The dominant search engine is Google. That is well understood by the average Internet searcher and by search engine optimization professionals (SEOs). Google currently is the largest volume player on the search engine landscape. With the recent announcement of new search technology, the giant Microsoft Corporation plans to make inroads into Google’s search leadership position.
Most optimization efforts by website owners and search engine optimization experts have been geared toward achieving high search engine rankings in Google. With the marketing and financial muscle of Microsoft behind the revised MSN Search, some thought should be given to ranking well in that search engine too.
The question faced by SEOs and by the many millions of website owners is whether their Google optimization techniques will play well with MSN Search as well.
The good news for most website owners is much of the website optimization value for Google is also helpful in MSN Search. The differences are more those of component emphasis between the two search algorithms rather than diametrically opposed techniques. While many standard Google optimization methods will also work well in MSN, there are many other optimization applications that require more attention.
By understanding the similarities and differences between the MSN and Google search algorithms, it is possible to secure high rankings in both search engines.
Should you care if your Google optimization does the job in MSN?
MSN Search has a much smaller share of the search engine market at the present time. That is a given,understood by website owners, search engine optimization professionals, and search engine users alike. The current state of affairs is not written in stone for all time, however.
Change in the search engine user patterns can happen almost overnight. The switch from one dominant search engine to the currently dominant Google took place almost in the twinkling of an eye. It could happen again. Webmasters must be prepared in the event of a dramatic alteration in searcher preferences. Not having all of your eggs in a Google labeled basket is a good place to start.
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 in their very 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.
You need to know if your Google optimization efforts will be rewarded by the MSN Search algorithm as well. If there are some major differences in the algorithm preferences, it is a good idea to know the MSN biases. Your online business success might depend on it.
It’s well known by search engine optimization professionals that the Google search algorithm places heavy emphasis on incoming links. It also places a premium on strong link anchor text.
That is not to say that Google lags behind in giving value to on page content and proper website internal design features. MSN values links and anchor text as well. That said, the MSN algorithm places a much stronger importance on keywords and content, both on and off the page.
Concentrating heavily on links will certainly provide additional benefits for Google. Placing added emphasis on content of all types will pay dividends in MSN Search. By understanding the importance of links and content, to both search engines, your site can be successfully optimized for both. A balanced approach to links and to content will result in high search engine rankings in both Google and MSN.
Maintaining a Balance
Whatever optimization efforts are employed, it’s essential to avoid going to one extreme or the other. By thinking all content or all links, the all important balance is lost. Each search algorithm values content and links, but to varying degrees. By making certain that a site has strong keyword rich on and off page content and incoming links displaying good anchor text, the proper balance can be maintained.
It’s not a given that using an overall optimization program will result in lower search engine rankings. In fact, taking care of the link requirements of Google will pay off in MSN. Making sure of the need for keyword rich content will be rewarded by Google. The only tradeoffs are on the levels of importance in the techniques utilized in both directions.
Too much of a good thing for one search algorithm can do harm in the other one. For example, keyword on page keyword density tolerances for MSN are much higher than for Google. With MSN, heavier keyword usage is encouraged by its search algorithm. The same higher saturation of keywords will not be treated well at all by Google. Moderation is the best policy for all search engine optimization if cross search engine power is to be achieved.
When optimizing for Google, SEO professionals recognize the value of employing keyword rich page titles. Each page should be given a title that is unique to the content of that page and that includes the keywords found within that page’s copy. As with Google, MSN values page titles highly in its algorithm. Your Google optimization efforts regarding page titles will pay off with MSN very well.
Fresh content pages are highly regarded by the Google algorithm. By constantly adding new and freshly updated pages to your site, the Google search results will reward your efforts. Perhaps even more than with Google, the MSN search engine values on page content. Freshly added created content will serve you very well with MSN, where content is extremely important, and fresh content even more so.
An additional form of constant fresh content can be created by placing a blog component in your site. As the blog is updated on a very regular basis with keyword rich content, the search engine spiders from both Google and MSN will crawl it often. Every search engine algorithm is written to give special benefits to fresh content. The differences between the search engines, in that regard, are minimal.
Blogs are possibly the easiest method available for creating that continual flow of new keyword laden web pages. A blog is usually written with a specific topic in mind. As such, its highly themed copy will score very highly for the site’s most important search terms. High search engine placements, in both MSN and Google, will be the result.
Google’s search algorithm is legendary among SEO professionals for the heavy weighting provided for incoming links. The same high search placements are given for having strong keyword rich and theme related link anchor text. Without a doubt, links are important to the Google search algorithm. Of course, the added link related Google PageRank calculation accounts for even more link value.
MSN places importance on links as well. The main difference is the MSN algorithm appears to be more concerned with content than with sheer linking power. While it’s true that all incoming links have value, and all provide link popularity boosts to a site, the MSN algorithm seems more concerned with the quality of the link than the quantity. Link text is very important to MSN. It’s part of the MSN algorithm’s heavy weighting in favor of content.
Because most SEO experts already understand the strength of anchor text for Google, there is no need to worry about MSN. The link text is just what the MSN spiders like to eat. With Google, the anchor text is apparently valued for how it powers the incoming links and with MSN by the supplying of additional content. On the other hand, both algorithms are making website owners happy with the results.
Along with external links, don’t neglect internal website links and easy to navigate site maps. Smart webmasters make certain that all pages are properly linked to one another, ensuring the addition of keyword rich links to the receiving page. A good site map not only aids the search engine robot spiders, but also enhances the value of the site to visitors. The great thing about ensuring strong internal linkage and text is it works for Google, MSN, and the online business’s potential customers.
Inclusion of the website in the many Internet directories provides important inbound links for any search algorithm’s taste. Google has a strong preference for the Open Directory Project, better known as DMOZ. Inclusion in that important human edited directory will enhance a site’s MSN Search rankings as well.
MSN Search had previously had an agreement with Looksmart/Zeal to provide directory listings. While the formal part of that agreement has ended, MSN continues to hold an option to utilize those listings. Inclusion in that directory will enhance any site’s standing with MSN. Being included in any directory holds value with Google. Looksmart/Zeal is certainly not an exception to that rule. Directory inclusion holds tremendous value in all search engine algorithms.
Optimizing for the Google search engine will not hurt a webmaster very much with MSN Search. If the site contains an abundance of keyword rich pages, it will certainly score high rankings in MSN. Simply maximizing the allowable level of keyword saturation for Google will ensure solid results with the MSN algorithm.
Having many incoming links that feature good anchor text is a plus in every search engine. While inbound links are paramount in importance in Google, they are required for every other search engine as well. MSN is certainly no exception. Maintaining a solid on site internal linking system, important to Google, will pay real dividends with MSN Search as well.
Each web page should have its own unique title tags, rich in keywords that are found on that page. Making sure the title tags and the on page content match will provide a major boost in all search engines. MSN Search and Google will both reward those efforts.
Overall, by optimizing a site for Google, strong results will usually happen with MSN Search as an added bonus.
Keeping fresh content and good linking practices in mind will make all search engine algorithms happy.
That joy in achieving high rankings, as a result, includes both Google and MSN Search.