MSN Search Now Taking Submissions

Continuing on its new path of openness and transparency, the MSN Search blog last night posted some hints on how a site can be listed in MSN Search’s index, along with links to a new help page for site owners

“Now that we have a beta, people are starting to pay attention to whether their sites are in our index,” wrote Eytan Seidman, MSN Search program manager, in the search team’s blog. Seidman said the two most common questions from site owners are “Why did MSNBot not crawl my site?” and “You crawled my site, so why can’t I find it in your search index?” Seidman goes on to explain, in detail, the complexities of query parameters, leaf pages, and Web spam.

While this is hardly groundbreaking information, it reflects a level of detail and timeliness that wasn’t there before MSN launched the blog last week, concurrent with the beta launch of MSN Search. The team set the tone early with a blog post explaining (and apologizing for) the site’s opening day jitters.

The MSN Search blog also points out the new Web site submission page, along with other tips for site owners in its new Site Owner Help section. In addition to the information about how to get indexed, topics include controlling which pages get indexed, using site descriptions, and troubleshooting issues with MSNBot’s site crawling.

“The site submit tool is not a big deal — others offer add URL pages, and these are typically so overrun with spam that the search engines don’t depend on them. In the end, it’s going to come down to sites having a search engine friendly URL structure and getting good inbound links to help them get spidered,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch. “Glad to see the MSN info out there, though — and the blog so far has been really refreshing.”

To alleviate some of the spam submissions, MSN Search requires users to enter a string of characters from an image during the submission process. This should help prevent most non-human, automated entries from getting through.

Other topics addressed in the blog so far include “search bombs,” which led to MSN Search returning Google as the top result for the query “more evil than satan” and Microsoft for “evil corporation.” This was the result of the algorithm scoring the sites based on inbound links. Apparently, lots of sites use the word “evil” near the word “Microsoft” on their pages. The same thing happened with Google a few years ago.

The MSN Search blog also refutes rumors that MSN built its index by taking links from Google’s search results, and even linked to leaked images of MSN’s own desktop search product found on another site. A beta of that product is expected by the end of the year.

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