Why you should optimize for MSN (Live Search)

Site Reference has a good article about Optimizing for MSN: Is it worth the effort?”.  In short, yes it’s worth it.

While there’s no argument about the higher quality of results that Google provides, MSN is still a valuable search engine when it comes to getting visitors that are going to purchase something from you or fill out your lead form.

The article makes a few points about what makes MSN’s results different from Google’s:

What about MSN? In this case, things tend to be a little smoother. MSN seems to really like new pages, and it has no sandbox. It doesn’t use an “age filter” and classifies sites much faster. Therefore, it is highly probable that the amount of results that a Web user might get for a given search to be significantly higher than the one obtained from Google. Also, it appears that the search speed is higher with MSN than with Google. This may be because their index is considerably smaller than Google’s.

The biggest difference between the two engines is obviously the sandbox effect and the fact that MSN’s Live Search tends to rank newer or recently updated pages more favorably. Not to mention they pick up your incoming links a lot quicker and calculate the link weight in their algorithm much faster.

Ok, so that doesn’t explain the issue of getting visitors to buy from you or to contact you for services.  They go on to detail that the conversion rates for MSN are much higher than from Google. It’s believed that Google users are more prone to looking at many sites very quickly, while MSN users are likely to stay and complete a desired action for you.

Reports show that Google is already a saturated search engine. Its users see so many websites that they don’t have the patience to spend much time on any given site, but still want to visit others as quickly as possible. On the other hand, it appears that MSN users are more likely to produce conversions (sales). This probability is 48% higher for MSN users than for any other Internet users.

Based on this information, optimizing for MSN is very important to any business.  Unfortunately, the same optimization strategies that you use for Google or Yahoo may not help you in MSN.

Here are some of the key strategies to improving your MSN rankings:

  • Create a large site, full of valuable, well organized, and resourceful content.
  • MSN is a little more vulnerable to higher keyword density; be careful about increasing yours, however, because Google is adept at identifying spam (& possibly applying a penalty).
  • MSN is more vulnerable to quantity (spamming) than the other engines, since they tend to count new pages & links more quickly. This is a pretty easy concept – add a lot of links, move up in MSN.
  • Ensure you site is clean, coding-wise.
  • Have a well optimized Title tag

While it might seem like a good idea to start doing all these things to optimize your site for MSN, keep in mind that some of these strategies could get you in trouble in the others (Google & Yahoo).

Additional resources on MSN optimization: