Optimization Tips for the New
MSN Search Engine
Donald Nelson, copyright 2005
The great and often-quoted
baseball player Yogi Berra once said: “You can observe
by just watching.” That’s what I have been doing with the new
MSN search engine that was recently launched with a lot of
I observed two interesting things which I would like to pass
on to you.
If you put a keyword rich paragraph near the top of the page,
either in the first or second paragraph, then your page “may”
do well in search requests for the keywords in that paragraph.
I put “may” in quotation marks because it is not guaranteed.
If a page is well optimized in all aspects, this initial
paragraph can give you the oomph that is needed to make a good
showing at MSN. That is what happened in the case of a few of
my new client’s sites.
Stating exactly what you are doing and describing it plainly
right at the start is good practice in any case because most
people spend only a few seconds on a web site. If the first
paragraph is clear then it is to your advantage if you want to
keep a restless surfer on your page.
I did some more keyword searches and then noticed another
preference of the new search engine. When searching for some
keywords I found one or two sites highly placed in the
rankings, but their main contents had little to do with the
keywords. However, at the very bottom of the pages they did
have links to another site with those keywords in the
clickable link text.
There are two things that can be learned from this:
1. keywords placed inside link text are considered important
by search engines, because they indicate that your page is
genuinely dealing with those keywords by giving more
references to them.
2. keywords placed at the very end of a page are important
because it tells the search engine that a page which started
out describing a concept such as “search engine optimization”
is still talking about it even at the very end.
Putting keywords in a strong paragraph at the beginning,
putting keywords in link text, and repeating keywords near the
end of a page are not new ideas. This has always been part of
good optimization practice, and it also makes good sense in
terms of providing solid information for website users.
However, it is the emphasis on these elements in the new MSN
search engine that is interesting. In any case, try your hand
at it and see if you can tweak your pages so that you do well
in the MSN engine, and the others as well.
Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has
been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the
director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com),
a firm providing low cost search engine optimization,
submission and web promotion services.