Archive for the ‘MSN’ Category

Tool: What it’s Worth to Rank in Google, Yahoo and MSN

Want to know what it means to rank 4th in MSN? How about to rank 2nd in Yahoo? Or what about ranking 1st in Google and 3rd in MSN?

Well then grab the number of overture searches the term had last month and use our new “Expected Clicks by Rank in Google, Yahoo, MSN and Other Tool.

By combining the AOL User Search Data, Hitwise Search Engine Market Share and Overture Search Tool, you can now estimate with some certainty how many clicks to expect for ranking anywhere in any search engine for any term.

The AOL user search data has been harvested to determine the CTR (Click Through Rate) for ranking number 1 vs. number 2-10. The sample size is large enough and broad enough that we can infer that this average holds true across many verticals:

Results from:
Total Searches:9,038,794
Total Clicks: 4,926,623

Ranking Number 1 receives 42.1 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 2 receives 11.9 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 3 receives 8.5 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 4 receives 6.1 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 5 receives 4.9 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 6 receives 4.1 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 7 receives 3.4 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 8 receives 3.0 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 9 receives 2.8 percent of click throughs.
Ranking Number 10 receives 3.0 percent of click throughs.

The rest of the Long Tail (ranks 11-1000) = 11.3 percent of click throughs.

Search Engine Ranking #1: 2,075,765 clicks
Search Engine Ranking #2: 586,100 clicks = 3.5x less
Search Engine Ranking #3: 418,643 clicks = 4.9x less
Search Engine Ranking #4: 298,532 clicks = 6.9x less
Search Engine Ranking #5: 242,169 clicks = 8.5x less
Search Engine Ranking #6: 199,541 clicks = 10.4x less
Search Engine Ranking #7: 168,080 clicks = 12.3x less
Search Engine Ranking #8: 148,489 clicks = 14.0x less
Search Engine Ranking #9: 140,356 clicks = 14.8x less
Search Engine Ranking #10 147,551 clicks = 14.1x less

Search Engine Ranking 11+: 501,397 clicks

Now you may want to know the Market Share of the Search Engines Google, Yahoo, MSN and Everyone else: From Hitwise, we find:

The Search Market Share for Google: 60.2%
The Search Market Share for Yahoo: 22.5%
The Search Market Share for MSN: 11.80
The Market Share fore Everyone Else: 5.5%
(more…)

Prepare to Make a Killing with MS Live. Here’s How:

While checking out the details of someone who is referral spamming me, I noticed that Alexa’s results are no longer provided by Google. They now say “Powered by Windows Live.” Here’s a pic:

Alexa powered by Microsoft Windows Live

Now, I know that I’m probably 1 of about 15 people in the world that ever see alexa results, (they have about a 1.5% share) but still – 1.5% more for Microsoft is like increasing their searchshare by 15%.

Windows Live is looking pretty darn good these days and providing some relevant results that are HUGE improvement over MSN. I would say that they are on par with Google for relevancy. Some people complain about the scrolling Ajax SERPs bar – but I really like it. It lets you dig deeper much quicker. I like the interface and the bar that lets you remove descriptions, or add “Search within this site.”

My biggest issue with windows live now is that it is much slower at returning results than Google – often taking 6 secs to return a result page. Maybe I’m nuts, but could that be because people are hand coding the results in real-time? Is that what they mean by Windows “Live”? That there are live people giving me these results? //half in jest.

I like the Live results so much that I have added the Windows Live Toolbar to my IE7 browser. IE 7 is great, but that’s a whole other post . . .

Here’s what I noticed about the Live toolbar during installation:

Microsoft bundled Onfolio with the toolbar:

Collect, Save and Share with Onfolio
Easily save, organize and share your online research with Onfolio. Capture copies of pictures, text or Web pages to your PC for reliable access later. Organize your Web research and publish it in emails, blogs and documents. Search through your clippings anytime with Windows Desktop Search.

When I tried to install that component, it said you need to have the .NET framework installed to run it and where to download it. I didn’t bother – it should have said “Install .NET framework?” in a checkbox.

The toolbar also pushes the install desktop search (it’s bundled by default) which I went ahead and installed. The desktop search is using about 26 megs of ram in the background, so I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it. But they didn’t stop there:

The Windows Live toolbar includes a button linking to Microsoft Spaces . . . these guys thought of everything! Not that I use Spaces or want that stupid button, but that’s exactly why Microsoft is so successful. They are the masters of bundling and pushing their products into the market. Some people find it annoying, but I find beauty in business genius.

The “You making Money” Part

In the firefox spirit, the Live toolbar has a gallery of customized buttons submitted by various designers. The most obvious ways to search are by number of downloads or average user rating. It looks like the most downloaded one has only 1500 installs at the moment. Do you see the marketing opportunity yet?

Number of installs and ratings with such a small number of users are figures that are easily gameable. It’s not that hard to figure out how to increase the number of downloads and pump the rating (most plugins aren’t even ranked). So:

1. Develop a customizable button that doesn’t suck now
2. Develop a plan to monitize that button and
3. Pump that button towards the top of their results.

We know that Windows Vista will come out . . . eventually. Windows Live Search doesn’t suck and is improving. It will get more popular and will eventally replace MSN. All those old MSN toolbars are likely to be updated to Live toolbars through a push – It’s just the Microsoft way.

Even if they “fail”, they’re going to get at least 5% of the worlds computers to install this toolbar. Right now, that’s about 5% of 1 billion online computers. Imagine if they do what they always do and actually win. Then we’re talking 300 to 600 million people using that toolbar in 3 years.

So by creating and pumping a custom plugin/ button now, you will be getting in on the ground floor before Vista’s launch makes this toolbar use widespread. This could give you a significant first mover advantage that allows you to ride on the on the coat tails of Microsoft’s inevitable success.

Another way to skin that cat might be developing IE7 plugins or Vista Gagets right now.

Now the only question is what the hell to call this post:

A. “Alexa chooses Microsoft Live for SERPs”
B. “Microsoft: Still Writing the Book on Bundling”
C. “Microsoft Live Search – Supprise! It doesn’t suck.”
D. “Build you Business with Live Toolbar Plugins”

I guess I’ve been reading too much copyblogger lately, because I decided to go with:

E. “Prepare to Make a Killing with MS Live. Here’s How:”

Here’s the Live Beta Developers Guide.

Microsoft and Yahoo – Merger Preparations?

Here’s an interesting nuget frm Cringelys weekly column:

And speaking of phones, last week Yahoo and Microsoft supposedly connected their instant messaging systems in a move that will eventually allow full interoperability, which was viewed almost universally as a defense against the threat of Google. Not so. It is all about phones.

There are a dozen or more healthy startups that already enable users to send instant messages from one IM system to another. What MSN and Yahoo quite specifically announced was the interoperability of their VOICE chat products, which of course also include text capabilities.

Cringley predicts that eventually all the major IM clients will work together on Voice to reduce costs. But isn’t it also possiable that Yahoo and Microsoft are are getting their systems working together because of a potential merger? Yahoo has been taking a beating lately in the market; their stock is near a two year low. Maybe their shareholders would accept a 35% premium over the current price – roughly $45 Billion.

1 MSN Result That Isn’t Hand Coded

The top result for “search.msn.de” is one of Ice Blog’s Blogger accounts.

It took me 4 days, a blog full of personal bullshit and a few freebie backlinks to rank for search.msn.de. What will it take to rank for ebay.com or amazon.com?

The MSN hand coders apparantly haven’t gotten to that one yet.

How Real Time Hand SERPs Could Work in 3.9 Secs

I’ve giving some thought to how real time MSN SERPs could be delivered by hand coders. While it doesn’t seem pretty far fetched, what MSN could do is this:

They receive a query in real time and send it through a script that pulls the Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask Cache of their top tens for that query. That’s 40 Results. Since it’s the cache, they should come up very fast.

Those 40 results are sent to a total of 8 hand coders – 5 to each. A window pops simultaneously on each screener’s window and each makes a Blink Decision rating from 0-9 on the quality of the site: 9 being the best. After the rating is entered, the first window closes and the next pops in succession until a set of 7 results are found with these characteristics:

2 with a score of 7-9
1 more with a score of 5 or better
All with a score over 3

When there is overlap, an average score is used. They are then sorted by rating and delivered as results. Anything with a score of 0 is removed from the index as spam.

The “ratings” could then be used in later searches as a ranking component.

Of course, this does nothing to explain why they would need to type 149 words per minute.

It seems pretty unlikely but I think it could be doable with the right training. What do you think? Am I off my rocker on this or what?

MSN Hiring People to Hand Code SERPS

From http://search.msn.com/s/jobs/openings/search%20jobs.htm

Mirrored here.

It seems MSN is looking to hire people to hand code SERPs to improve quality. I’m sure all three search engines do it to an extent, but it interesting to see a job opening for the position:

Hand crafted results
When all else fails, and the ranking algorithms do not pass the confidence threshold, we fall back to delivering handcrafted results. Working on a team of approximately 132 other handcrafters in 26 worldwide markets, you will receive a user query, use all the available search engines to quickly scour the web for results, pick the top 10 results for this query, and send it on to the user. Successful handcrafters can typically find top 10 results for a real-time user’s query in less than 3.8 seconds. This is an opportunity to truly connect with customers, because the queries that get routed to you are precisely the ones that the engine cannot answer well. We will have adequate staffing to allow generous coffee and bathroom breaks.
If you are an expert at using at least 3 different search engines, well versed with American English/colloquial usage, and can type at > 149 words/minute as measured by the Simia-Lico method – come join us and delight users real-time!

All I can say is that for MSN, all else has so far failed.

On the other hand, I would be GREAT at hand coding results . . . maybe I should apply!

;)

Digg This story. It’s sorta anti Microsoft so it has a chance.

Cleartype on A Clearly Biased Web

I read hundreds of pages on my computer every day. The other day, I came across one of the best enhancements to user experience I’ve seen in a very long time, Microsoft’s Cleartype. If you run Windows XP on an LCD, this freebee is a “must have.” The difference is incredible.

I know it’s been out for more than a year already, but I hadn’t heard of it before. It never made front page of Slashdot or Digg. On delicious, cleartype is barely making a dent considering how good the product is and the size of the company releasing it.

In more than a year, technorati has 3,902 posts that contain the word “cleartype”. Compare that to “google spreadsheet” – 1,415 posts in 4 days, 10,724 posts with “An Inconvenient Truth”, 17,322 for “writely”, or 169,645 for “web 2.0″.

If Apple, Firefox or Google released this product, I’m certain that you would have seen it everywhere. In fact, Google wouldn’t have even had to have released it: If some 3rd rate blogger started a rumor about google thinking of maybe developing something kinda-sorta like it, it would have gotten more coverage.

It’s clear. Microsoft needs to get better at Astroturfing. Astroturfing is when you fake, push or help mold a “grass roots” movement. Right now, they have all the hate associated with being a winner without the fanfare that could have accompanied their success.

It shouldn’t be that difficult to do considering their resourses, their products, their lenient stance on piracy, and that their founder has given more money to charity than anyone in the history of mankind.

They need more Microsoft fanboy sites that appear unrelated to the Microsoft Corporation. They also need some good SEO and Marketing execution to help get their message across to the public. Imagine how relatively inexpensive it would be to create a separate corporation to buy up web properties and blog networks to reinvent their image.

With the right resources, I bet I could do it.

Alexa Data is Still the Most Reliable

Matt Cutts of Google on Alexa data:

there is some serious webmaster skew in the Alexa data. There is no way that I have 1/4th the daily reach of Ask. I think my site gets a little boost because tons of SEOs install the Alexa toolbar.

Yea, I can’t think of a less reliable search metric than Alexa data. Oh wait! Yes I can . . . How about page rank? Who do you think has more traffic? The page rank 8 with a 100,000 alexa rank or the page rank 4 with the 3000 alexa rank? I bet there are almost no sites with an alexa rank from 1-5000 that have less traffic than someone over 100,000. The same cannot be said comparing page rank 9s with page rank 3s.

If you are reaching webmasters, you are reaching the important people on the web – Malcom Gladwells ” Connectors”. I use the Alexa Toolbar – it’s the most reliable data any search engine will give us. Until MSN, Yahoo or Google want to provide some better metrics for us, Alexa will continue to be used by people in the know. How many of you would instantly download the MSN toolbar if they gave us their best guess on reach? I know I would. Hey MSN Live Search and Yahoo – are you listening?

Maybe Alexa is only a reflection of how many webmasters a site reaches . . . but isn’t that just one step removed from how many people you can reach?

SEO No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament

On Saturday, May 27th at 12:15 Eastern, SEO Black Hat will be running a private No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament at Party Poker for the SEO and Blogosphere Community. The entrance will be $110 and prizes will be paid out based on the number of entrants.

Some big names in SEO have already agreed to participate including: Jeremy Shoemaker (AKA shoemoney), Jim Boykin (we build pages), David Naylor (AKA DaveN), and Jason Duke (Strange Logic). You can listen to DaveN and JasonD on Strikepoint and shoemoney here.

As we SEOs are always battling the search engines, I invite Matt Cutts, Jeremy Zawodny and Robert Scoble to play: I will pay their entrance fees should they choose to participate and, if I am knocked out of the Tournament by any of them, I will donate $10,000 to a charity of their choice. (note: They must accept in the next 7 days for the bounty to apply).

No limit means there is no limit to how many of your chips you can bet on a given hand. It will be a $110 dollar buy-in and everyone will start with the same number of chips. So, $110 is all you could loose. If we get more than 100 entrants, 1st prize will be more than $2,500 with payouts down to 20th place or more.

If you would like to play poker with some of your favorite Bloggers and SEOs – here is your chance. Everyone who signs up will be put on the Tournament Participant list along with a link to their websites. This way everyone will know who they are playing against.

It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m sure they’ll be some colorful table talk, some great networking and I expect a healthy turn out. So what are you waiting for? Sign up now.

Update: Tournament Moved!!

Tournament Moved here.

When: Saturday May 27th June 13th at 12:15 Eastern (9:15 AM Pacific, 4:15 PM UTC/GMT, 5:15 pm BST) Worldclock

Where: Party Poker< - the World's Largest Online Poker Room.

Buy-in: $100 +$10 entrance fee (entrance Fee Goes to Party Poker)

Who can play? Anyone with a website, $110, and a Party Poker

Tournament Structure: No limit Texas Holdem. Each Player starts with 3000 chps. The blinds go up every 15 minutes.

Who’s already signed up? Tournament Participant list.

How to Sign Up to play. You need a Party Poker account with at least $110 in it. Once you have one, e-mail me with your party poker username, your name and the website you would like linked to from the participants list.

My email address = quadszilla {at] seoblackhat.com

How to Play No limit Texas Hold’em Poker

No Limit Hold’em Poker Starting Hand Statistics

Is Online Poker Illegal?

Respected No Limit Texas Hold’em Poker Books

Poker Forum

Poker Calculator

We need all entrance by May 21st and the names will be posted on the Tournament Participants list in the order they are received. Again, Just e-mail me at quadszilla [at} seoblackhat.com with your partypoker Username and the site you would like me to linked and you too will get the chance to play poker with your favorite SEOs.

Spammers Paradise

After a frustrating battle with the Adobe DRM for the e-book I . . .gasp! . . . Bought, Cryptonomicon, I decided to search for cryptonomicon.txt on MSN and . . . behold! there it was at #1. (Yes – I tried the Gmail trick. No – it doesn’t work anymore.)

While checking out the directory, I also found the song Spammers Paradise – it’s kinda funny even if the guy couldn’t hold a tune with a bucket.