I tried out Microsoft's new search engine (beta version) the other day. They have been working on it quite secretly now for almost a year. It has been rumored to be a Google killer once in full public release. They say its accuracy and ability to return relevant results will far surpass any other search engine on the Internet. That remains to be seen. I tried various combinations of single, double, and triple word/phrased searches to inspect the results.
To the casual observer I suppose a certain percentage of the results would seem to be accurate, but upon closer inspection and with a trained eye, the results for the most part ranged from poor to outright terrible.
I then attempted a series of searches on the same combination of words. "custom designed screen printed t-shirts" I was attempting to determine how much the results and rankings changed (or did not change) within the same set of query words. I searched with a variety of spellings on a particular keyword In this case, I selected the word "T shirts" then t-shirts (with a dash) and finally "tshirts" (no dash, all one word)
One web site had very consistent results across all three spelling methods. This intrigued me so I clicked on the link to analyze the site. i.e. Why was this one so well optimized or more specifically why did this new Microsoft beta search engine find this web site so tasty.
The site was completely broken. None of the graphics loaded properly. (in Internet Explorer) It was devoid of any contextual content on the home page and scarcely little throughout the rest of the pages. Some scrolling Java script overlapped the button for a drop down menu. No outside links. Nothing. Excuse the pun but this was not a pretty site. How then could Microsoft possibly rank this site one, two and three for completely different keyword phrasings and spellings on a soon to be major release for a search engine?
The answer revealed itself as soon as I took a look at the web site's HTML source code.
Guess what folks, meta tags are back! At least as far as the Beta version of Microsoft's new search engine is concerned, especially the keyword Meta Tag. Above all, this tag seemed to account for the heaviest weight in determining the aforementioned rankings. I will err on the side of caution here and assume that Microsoft has not finalized all their algorithm parameters yet, but the keyword tag was definitely what their spider had been eating.
The problem However, (beside the horrible site) was that this particular keyword tag, by all SEO standards, was an abomination! Nearly every rule and guideline we've come to know and love ALL thrown out the window! It looked like a tag from 1995. Multiple repetition. Too many characters, way too many words, broken lines, poorly weighted keywords, bad spacing, and completely useless keywords. What's a "rinsger" anyway?
Have a look for yourself. Here it is. (Without formatting changes)
KEYWORDS CONTENT="tshirts, tees, tee shirts, tee-shirts, printed t-shirts, blank t-shirts, eshirts, ishirts, short sleeves, sweatshirts, long sleeve, v-necks, tank tops, jerseys, screenprintings, screen-printings, custom t-shirts, custom designs, custom printing, custom embroidery, michigan, fraternitys, sororitys, sportswear, artwork, typesetting, imprints, engraves, emboss, stamps, pocket tís, ts, rinsger tiís, ringers, ladieís tís, designs,
designing, apparel, clothing, clothes, screens, printers, silkscree embroidery, embroidered, customs, fraternities, sororities, golf, towels, logos, promotional, fundraisers, personalized,
company, tailgates, formals, footballs, blocks, carnivals, circus, pledges, bid
day, rush, halloween, christmas, easter, thanksgiving, halloween t-shirts,
christmas t-shirts, easter t-shirts, thanksgiving t-shirts, floors, dormitory, churches, clubs, sports, sport teams, choirs, schools, businesses, fundraisers, intramural, hanes, jerseys, fruit of the looms, universities, michigan state university, MSU, msu, university of michigan, U of M, UofM, u of m, eastern
michigan university, EMU, emu, western michigan university, WMU, wmu, central
michigan university, CMU, cmu, colleges, universitys, universities, shrits,
tshrits, t-shrits, desings, te-shirts, teshirts, sirts, shits, shitts, custums,
Yup, pretty darn ugly, but the Microsoft Beta search engine seems to be eating it up. Granted this engine is still in beta version but let's review. Broken, useless site. Broken useless tags. Number one ranking! What's wrong with this picture?
Most search engine users will try a new search engine only a few times. When they do not get the search result accuracy and relevance they expect, they will soon dismiss it and move along. Beta version or no beta version, one thing is for certain. The Microsoft coders have plenty of additional work to do before releasing this search engine to the general public. Google coders, take the weekend off.
Robert McCourty is a founding partner and the Marketing Director of Metamend Software and Design Ltd., a cutting edge search engine optimization (SEO) and web site promotion and marketing company.