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MSN and LJ

MSN officially launched its search engine today. Vanity searches are one of the easiest tests to run on search engines: if it can't find my webpages, clearly it's not indexing thoroughly.

Colin's pages on CUPS printing and TalAggregator made the top hits, which is quite reasonable. The first especially is quite widely linked to. By the end of the first page, the Digital Medievalist had shown up, because she links to my Medievalist list. By the second page, my regular webpages had shown up. By the fifth page, spam referrers to my weblog had shown up (you know, sites that warehouse links to webpages of all sorts in an effort to up their search engine ranking). By page 18, I'd run out of pages to look through, and Livejournal hadn't shown up at all in its own right - only as something to be linked to.

Weblogs are difficult things for search engines to deal with. Updating frequently, having lots of content, and being linked to are all flags for a webpage's important. But weblogs are easily abused as well, set up by page rank manipulators, for example. And then there's comment spam, which is what Google (and Livejournal and all sorts of other major sites) are trying to work around with the new rel="nofollow" flag. (Although if LJ is disabling anonymous links, then what do they mean by "unknown links" in the news post?)

But even if weblogs are easily abused, that's a challenge that MSN needs to take on, because there are plenty of reputable sites inamongst them. And failing to index a site like LJ isn't a competent solution.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2005 05:03 pm (UTC)
At present, there are nine blogs/links pages that refer to the Phrontistery before my page actually shows up; I wonder what their algorithm involves. It also seems to list both my old URL and my new URL multiple times each, in vastly different locations in the search results. Ah well ... I'll give them a few months to get themselves up and running properly before making any sort of judgement.
Feb. 1st, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC)
If this were the search engine's trial run, I would be inclined to greater leniency. It was beta-launched in November, and now officially launched. First impressions matter when it comes to search engines. If they want to be a major player in this market (and oh, do they ever), then they need to improve their results quite a bit.

(It's not that I want them to do well, so much as I feel they ought to take the whole project seriously - which they do - but the results for both of our sites seem rather slipshod. I know it's difficult to tweak search results to be really helpful - it's an ongoing task for the ensconced search engines. )
Feb. 1st, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC)
The more I search, the unhappier I get. The Phrontistery is one of a half-dozen web sites that has been in the top five results for 'unusual words' and 'obscure words' on Google and Yahoo for a very long time. None of the major unusual-word web pages show up in MSN's first 50 results; the top result for 'obscure words' is a forum discussion from 2003, while the top result for 'unusual words' gives a 404.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )