Search Engine Optimization For MSN Search
Recently, Microsoft officially launched their
highly anticipated 'new' search engine to the
general public. It can be found here at: http://search.msn.com.
Although most of the search engine optimization
(SEO) guidelines presented here may be similar
to other engine requirements and may not come
as a surprise to most online marketing professionals,
it's important to note some of the subtle differences
in SEO requirements unique to MSNBot as the engine
strives to have its own identity.
Buried within the help files of the site, there
are several wonderful clues to assist web site
owners, web site marketing and promotion firms
and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals
in gaining visibility within MSN search, for themselves
or for their clients.
It's quite refreshing to note that Microsoft
has documented recognition of the importance of
a well designed and optimized site. They even
went so far as to state that, if you want a better
chance of being indexed properly within this engine,
then perhaps you should look into hiring a reputable
SEO firm to assist you.
This makes complete sense from MSN's point of
view. A professionally optimized site will allow
their aptly named spider, MSNbot, to easily read,
navigate through and thus relevantly index the
web site properly. By optimizing your web site
in accordance with MSN's guidelines, you stand
a much better chance of being found when it counts
the most - when someone is searching for your
goods and services.
Here are a few guidelines suggested by MSN to
help you out. First and foremost, MSN readily
admits that MSNbot will actively be using Meta
tags for part of its web site analysis. Yes, meta
tags are still relevant pieces of code (despite
all the nay sayers out there), and with this new
Bot they seem to play a very important role within
the indexing algorithm. Similar to other search
engines, the 'title tag' again appears to be the
most heavily weighted within the algorithm, followed
closely by the Meta Description Tag and if you
read between the lines, it is suggested that your
best 'keywords' should be included in both places.
MSN does not come straight out and say that the
'keywords meta tag' will be utilized, but by reading
between the guidelines it strongly suggests the
keywords in all areas (title, description and
keyword tag and content) should adhere to each
Content of course is still king when it comes
to MSNbot's ability to put the entire puzzle together.
Apparently, at this stage, the Bot does not read
text within a graphic, so if you have important
keywords contained within a graphic (especially
on your main page), they strongly suggest you
move those keywords into plain old text format.
And here's a tip; the closer to the top of the
page, the better.
MSN Search calls for pages to be under 150K in
size, suggesting the Bot will either simply stop
reading after this point or in a worse case scenario,
may measure/weigh the page size before reading
and simply skip the page all together. This point
is not made entirely clear, but it should be of
enough concern to have every SEO firm scampering
to measure their clients web site's index pages,
just in case. In actuality, a page size of 150k
could contain a lot of relevant text content,
but add a few fancy graphics in there and the
total can add up quickly.
An interesting point within the guidelines suggests
that words (even keywords) within headers, footers
and tables will not be read. Again, simple text
is the rule of thumb. This may cause some web
sites to need a complete redesign. Graphics with
long or non-content supported ALT tags will also
be dismissed. This is very similar to the rules
from other major search engines, as it provides
somewhat of a safeguard against sites that stuff
keywords in an attempt to fool or 'spam' the engines
into thinking they are something they are not.
Redirects will not be read either.
Linking, as per usual, will be an important part
of MSNBot's equation. They offer two suggestions
as to which links will be deemed the most important:
links from the main page and links no more than
three levels deep. This means all hyperlinks on
your site should be accessible within three clicks
or less from each other for maximum effectiveness.
Very interesting. Larger web sites may have a
problem adhering to this rule, but it should be
kept in mind that the MSNBot is still feeling
its way through the web. A three deep scenario
is probably the beginning of the parameter. It
will surely offer a deeper crawl as it becomes
Submitting Your Site.
Good news! Submission to MSN Search is offered
freely by Microsoft but two rules must be followed.
First, search to see if your web site is already
contained within their database. There is no need
to resubmit if they already have you indexed.
Second, the submission procedure is manual and
is not accepting automated submissions at this
time. Therefore you must enter a presented code
into the appropriate field along with your URL
before being allowed to submit (http://search.msn.com/docs/submit.aspx).
According to MSN Search online documentation,
some sites may have been deleted from the old
index. Web site owners, SEO firms and other online
marketing professionals take note: It would be
time well spent to double-check your inclusion
status or run through your entire client roster
to ensure each client is contained within the
MSN Search database. They may have been ranking
high in there before but completely absent now.
Resubmit where necessary.
This engine is already a major player and if
the search industry rumors are true, MSN Search
will be taking on the Google and Yahoo!'s of the
world for dominance within the marketplace.
By following a few simple guidelines and MSN
specific SEO procedures, your web site will be
showing up with the best of them.
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Robert K. McCourty, is a founding Partner and
Director of Marketing for Metamend Software and
Design Ltd. The firm specializes in the development
and implementation search engine optimization
technologies and solutions for the improvement
of web site placement within the Internet's top
search engines. The company is regarded by many
to be the world leader in its field, with clients
in 57 countries around the world.
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