No Comments

How Microsoft Can Improve My Live Search Experience

SEO digest

If you’re studying search market share analysis, then you are undoubtedly aware that Microsoft is actually the second most visited search destination on the U.S. Web. Okay, you would know that if you weren’t being bamboozled by the nonsense that comScore, Compete, Hitwise, and Nielsen publish every month.

Still, the fact that Microsoft’s MSN and outperform and that receives more traffic than should be a wakeup call to all the Google-Hoo snobs in SEO.

While you’ve been sleeping on your broken ranking reports, Microsoft has been building its search audience and it now qualifies as a major powerhouse in search. It’s time people started developing Microsoft search strategies AND Live search optimization techniques.

But before you can optimize you need to be able to search. Many SEOs are actually poor searchers because they don’t bother to use the query tools analytically — in fact, a lot of so-called “A List” SEOs have demonstrated a poor grasp of query operator fundamentals. You can’t just see that a search engine offers, for example, a date-range search function. You have to know how to test the search function’s effectiveness.

For example, a lot of people in the SEO community think that Google’s date-range search function is so cool. It’s a pity the thing doesn’t work. You can find more documents for a given day by manipulating regular Web search results than you can find from the date-range search. Why? I don’t know. Many it depends on Google Alerts or something.

Date-range indexing should be a no-brainer, but I suppose there is a lot more going on with Google’s date-range query than meets the eye. Unfortunately, it’s a useless, worthless tool.

Still, people found Google’s date-range search function, and that says something good about Google’s communication with Webmasters. When I search Google’s help pages, I usually find what I am looking for (but I have to use main Web search to get there).

I can’t say the same thing about Microsoft’s help pages. I have to use Live’s Web search to find the Microsoft documents I’m seeking, but I almost have to know what I am looking for before I find it. And the URLs are a nightmare. Look at the URL for their Live Search Advanced Query Operators (they call them “advanced search keywords”). There are four dynamic elements in that URL and the last one makes it pretty clear that we’re actually searching for a static document.

Microsoft, here is request number 1:

Please simplify your help system toponomy

Now, let’s talk about “advanced search keywords”. Maybe SEOs comprise only a small part of the searching public, but we have pretty much laid down the law on what a “keyword” is (borrowing the concept from information retrieval science). If you search for query operator you’ll find that Live provides very relevant results to the expression (which has several similar uses or meanings), including at least one front-page reference (for now) to the Google query operators.

“Query operators” is standard terminology and it won’t be confused with “query topics” (which is what we normally use “keywords” to refer to).

Microsoft, here is request number 2:

Please use more standard terminology

Yeah, it’s cool to invent your own terminology but you’ve done that in so many other ways you don’t need to be a bully and push your way to the front of the line with the non-standard Microsoft search terminology. People will engage in the Live search optimization experience (and bring Microsoft much more money through advertising) when they speak the same language as Microsoft. Getting the SEO community to shed its misconceptions about search is hard enough; asking the SEO community to learn a whole new language about search is just plain mean.

Microsoft doesn’t want to be seen as following Google’s lead, but one area where Google has taken the lead is in blogging about search. There are a lot of Google search-related blogs, but there is only one Microsoft search blog. And it’s not updated very often.

Microsoft, here are requests number 3 and 4:

Please create more blogs about your search services

Please blog more often (daily would be great)

And don’t be coy with the search optimization community. If someone wants to know whether Live search supports the linkdomain: query operator, they won’t find a definitive answer about linkdomain on I can find pages in every language but English. What’s up with that?

Either you’re supporting linkdomain: or you’re not. I assure you, there are SEOs in Israel so leaving your linkdomain: help page in Hebrew isn’t hiding whatever it says from the SEO community (besides, I might try to run it through some online translators).

Here is request number 5:

Provide consistent help across your language groups

Those are just a few thoughts. I think Microsoft needs to make the exploration of Live Search’s resources easier in order to foster growth in Live search promotion.

published @ September 4, 2008

Similar posts:

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.