MSN Beta Search Engine Somewhat Launched
It’s finally happened, MSN has launched their new beta test of the autonomous MSN Search – their own search engine. No longer is MSN dependent upon Looksmart or Inktomi and other partners (wasn’t Direct Hit one of them in the past?) to produce search results for MSN network members and intregrated IE searchers. Some other sites have covered the new MSN Search and I went to do so this morning.
Granted, the new MSN Search is in beta and things like this are going to happen during testing, so I’ll wait patiently for them to be running again before hailing or bashing their new search service. However, in the meantime the Search Engine Journal will help spread the word about MSN Search by covering some reviews of their service (from those who could test it out).
From Chris Sherman of Search Engine Watch:
To set itself apart from the pack, the new MSN Search includes some features that differ from those found on Google, Yahoo and Ask Jeeves. The most prominent difference is the “Near Me” button appearing next to the “Search” button. Clicking the Near Me button effectively runs a local search for your query. In this release, the Near Me feature works only for searchers located in the U.S.
By default, your browser’s IP address is used to determine your location. You can override this by explicitly entering your current location using the Settings command. The “Near Me” function works quite well, primarily because Microsoft has tagged every web page in its index that has geographic information, using what the company calls an “overlapping tiles model,” starting with zip code, then including neighborhood, region, city, state and country information if available.
Microsoft is also offering an interesting hybrid approach to customization and advanced search. Clicking the Search Builder link opens up a window beneath the search form that provides explicit controls over many of your query variables. Most of these controls are similar to those hidden away on the advanced search page of other search engines. Having them available from any search form is a nice touch that should encourage more use of these refinement tools.
Randy from High Rankings Forum lends his impressions on MSN ranking:
* MSN doesn’t put nearly as much emphasis on links as Google, just like Yahoo! doesn’t.
* If you’ve got good on page content with proper use of your keywords you’ll be in pretty good shape.
* Weight being put on links, while reduced in the overall scheme of things, appears to be less prone “link spamming” and totally irrelevant links. I say this because in a few markets some of my competitors have a lot more incoming links than I have, with most of them being totally off-topic. All of mine are on-topic. Either theirs are being discounted for being off-topic or I’m getting some kind of boost for mine all being on-topic.
* The one thing I am noticing, which will be interesting though I can’t prove it yet, is that MSN seems to be looking a bit more at the overall “theme” of sites as a whole. Rather than looking at individual pages and discounting every other page.
On the eve of launching the new MSN Search in beta, MSN also started a weblog to keep in touch with search enthusiasts and loyal MSN users. In the same following of Yahoo’s YSearchBlog and Google’s Blog, MSN now has the MSNSearch’s Weblog, powered by .TEXT weblogs. The first entry was a welcoming entry to MSN Search by Oshoma Momoh (osh), the General Manager of the MSN Search Program Management.
Osh’s welcoming message:
On behalf of the MSN Search team I’m very pleased to announce that we’ve begun the worldwide rollout of our new algorithmic search service Beta release. I invite you to check it out at http://beta.search.msn.com and send us feedback via the “help us improve” links. You can identify the Beta version by the text “Search (beta)” next to the MSN butterfly logo.
This is an update of the service we started building in early 2003. We released it as a “Technology Preview” in July this year and more recently in early October at http://techpreview.search.msn.com to solicit early feedback. I want to convey a big thank you to all who sent bug reports and feedback on the tech preview… the feedback loop really helped, we learned a lot, and we made a number of changes in response to your suggestions. I hope you’re happy with the results.
We know still have a lot of work left to do. We’ll keep you updated here as we make progress.