The giant Microsoft Corporation has made a renewed entry into the search engine fray with the launch of its new MSN search engine. Microsoft has achieved rather limited success, up to this point, in its quest to compete with the dominant search engine Google. This new and revised MSN search vehicle may place Microsoft back in the race for the hearts and minds of the search public.
Should a significant portion of the search traffic choose to log onto the MSN Search interface, you will want to be certain that your site gets a piece of the action. You will want your site to ranked highly in MSN Search. Along with practicing strong Google and Yahoo! Search optimization, you will want to add MSN Search optimization to your list of priorities.
Gaining added Internet search traffic via MSN Search could add huge dollars to your online business bottom line. To receive that much sought after visitor traffic, you will want to know a little about what works, and what doesn’t have much impact, when optimizing for MSN.
Gaining high rankings in MSN Search might add some much appreciated additional visitor traffic to your site. What you need to do is consider, is why MSN has become a growing search engine power, and how to take advantage of that future traffic flow.
Why is the MSN Search Engine Important?
While many search engine optimization experts discount the relative importance of MSN Search, no one should ever forget the potential marketing power that the Microsoft Corporation can bring to the search engine business. By bundling MSN Search into the home version of Windows XP and in the proposed Longhorn application, many new Internet users will be searching via the MSN search engine option.
It’s dangerous for an online business to scoff at the new and inexperienced Internet users who might simply use the bundled MSN Search box. Many of the searchers might be Internet shoppers from their first month on the Internet. Unlike previous Internet novices, new users arrive on the Internet already knowing that online purchases are a standard shopping choice.
Because of the enormous potential, especially in the burgeoning online consumer market, it would be a mistake to overlook the MSN search engine. To take advantage of the MSN Search possibilities you need to know how to achieve high rankings with that possible future search engine powerhouse.
When planning your MSN Search optimization plan, consider placing heavy emphasis on using on page techniques. Like the Yahoo! search engine algorithm, the MSN algorithm appears to favor on page optimization efforts. On page content is truly king with MSN. The search engine algorithm examines your web pages very carefully. The importance of keywords and keyword density to MSN Search’s rankings cannot be stressed heavily enough. Keywords count for a major proportion of the MSN algorithm.
Other on page optimization techniques also score well with the MSN algorithm. Pay close attention to your choice of URLs, page titles, and site description. All appear to be very important to achieving high search engine rankings with MSN.
As with most other search engine algorithms, including Google and Yahoo!, you must pay close attention to your incoming link anchor text. Strong keyword rich anchor text provides a solid foundation for all search engine results. Taking care with your anchor text will pay off with all of the major search engines.
Be sure to mix up the anchor text because over-use of any one anchor text keyword phrase will cause alarm bells to go off. In any case, splitting your anchor text between two or more different phrases will provide high search engine placements for more than one search term phrase. That variety of search phrases will benefit your website by drawing traffic from unexpected quarters.
If your site contains a forum component, MSN will index its pages. MSN will also index and credit a blog, should you choose to maintain one on your site. Because forums and blogs are so rich with keywords and incoming links, their inclusion in your site will pay dividends in the MSN search results.
With keywords being so vastly important to MSN, it’s essential to explore the many ways that you can use judicious keyword placement techniques. The MSN algorithm rewards a heavier level of keyword density than does the Google search engine. Not only are keywords in the on page copy important but also in the page titles and even the website URL.
In your written on page copy, you can make use of more frequent keyword placement than in Google. It is quite likely that MSN will reward up to triple the keyword density preferred by Google. You have to be careful here, however, as you want to strike a balance between MSN and Yahoo!, which elevate higher keyword density pages and with the lower density levels preferred by Google. Fortunately, there are other ways to do well in MSN without packing your page copy full of your most important keyword phrases.
A proven technique that will offer benefits across all search engines is the wise use of keywords in your page title tags. As with Google and Yahoo!, MSN prefers a separate and unique title for every web page on your site. Include one or two of that page’s most important keywords in the page title. Don’t simply list strings of keywords, however, or the search engines will discount your pages for spam tactics.
The last thing you want for your site is to trigger any sort of filter or be assessed a penalty of any kind. Careful usage of keywords in your title tags will provide benefit in all search engines, not just MSN.
When you create your website URL, it’s important to MSN Search that your Internet address contain your important keywords. While changes are probably impossible for most websites, it is something to consider for the creation of new sites. MSN likes keywords in your URL, but be careful not to overwork them. Judicious use of the most important search phrase within your URL could find real rewards from MSN’s algorithm.
It’s well known in the search engine community that Google’s algorithm gives only very minimal weight to meta tags. On the other hand, the Yahoo! search engine seems to value them fairly well. As with Yahoo!, the MSN algorithm appears to place some solid weight on the use of meta tags. To take full advantage of meta tag use, be sure to have some unique meta tags for every page. Do not use the same meta tags for all of your web pages.
Use only the three to five most important meta tags for that web page. Make certain that those meta tags actually appear as keywords on that page as well. Any use of meta tag keywords that have no connection to the web page will probably be counterproductive and result in lower search rankings.
Be certain to have an accurate site description in place. MSN appears to place importance on that factor. Be sure the meta description tags accurately reflect the content and are not simply keyword stuffing in disguise. If all of your on page content, including copy, alt tags, descriptions, titles, and page headers match, your page will do well in MSN’s rankings. In other words, giving each page individual attention will pay off for you.
While the main focus of the MSN algorithm appears to be on page content, you shouldn’t forget to improve your off page content. Off page content includes mainly link anchor text for incoming links to your site. While not as link oriented as heavily as Google, MSN does stress some importance on properly created incoming links.
More important than the links to MSN is the accompanying link anchor text. Make certain that the anchor text contains keyword phrases and that are theme related to the page to which the link is pointed. By careful use of that page’s most important keywords, the receiving page gains in keyword usage and even keyword density value.
MSN is a very content and keyword sensitive search engine. Your use of link anchor text should reflect that keyword preference. Because anchor text is the most difficult content factor for a webmaster to manipulate, the value of link text is high for all search engine algorithms. MSN is certainly no exception to that rule.
MSN Search formerly had an agreement with the Zeal/Looksmart Internet directories to provide their results. While that formal agreement is no longer in place, MSN continues to maintain a less formal arrangement with the directories. Instead of displaying the directory listings on a regular basis, MSN Search is able to utilize the directory listings at its discretion. In other words, the Zeal/Looksmart directory listings may be part of any search results; or they might not.
In the past, under the formal agreement with Zeal/Looksmart, it was a very wise choice to have your site include in the directory listings. Inclusion in the MSN endorsed directories would boost your site high in the MSN search results. While that advantage has lessened, it has not disappeared entirely. There is still some solid benefit to being included in the Zeal/Looksmart directory.
Inclusion in the Looksmart directory is not free. It’s up to the individual website owner to determine if the potential for higher search rankings in MSN and a few visitors straight from the directory are worth the inclusion fee. A cost and benefit analysis is essential for making that decision.
If the higher MSN ranking and potential customer value outweighs the cost of inclusion, then it’s worth your while to include your business in the Looksmart directory. Inclusion in the Zeal directory is free for non-profit websites, but requires some time effort for the site to become listed.
Optimization for the MSN search engine requires careful attention to both on page and off page factors.
On the page, MSN will reward the frequent use of your keywords. Be careful not to get too carried away, however, and risk reaching the level of spam. MSN looks very closely at your web pages, so attention must be paid to your page titles, your meta tags, page descriptions, and keyword density. Even proper keyword usage in your page URLs are important points to consider.
Off page factors to consider are the use of keyword rich anchor text for your incoming links. MSN values link text very highly, as it is the least manipulable of the content factors.
Inclusion in the Zeal/Looksmart directories may have some value for your online business as well. Even if only for the link and the potential boost in the search engine rankings, directory inclusion is worthy of consideration.
If you pay close attention to your keywords and content, MSN Search will reward your website with strong search engine rankings.