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This is a heads up for my readers and clientele that MSN search applied an update that has significantly affected rankings. The client results we have reviewed so far have all done well by this update but we are continuing to review. So far it appears that MSN is still following the basic principles of good SEO but I have noticed the following elements appear important:

  • Title Tags: MSN appears to be placing a dubious amount of weight on Titles. When I searched a multitude of terms it was very clear that all of the top performing sites had clearly utilized the full key phrase within their title.
  • Domains: along with the Title tags another rather simple optimization technique seems to be affecting ranking – keywords in the domain. Here is a very obvious example; type in “Whistler Real Estate” and you will see the first site is doing exceptionally well, take note of the great domain (www.whistler-realestate.com) now do a search for “Whistler Realtor“, note the domain for the top ranking site is “www.whistlerrealtor.com”. Now this is not a silver bullet, you still have to have a good site to compete; however, I do believe that keyworded domains provide a sharper edge on MSN more than any other major search engine. Just remember they have little or no effect on Google so don’t go to any significant work to change your tactics unless you are focused entirely on MSN.

Here is an improvement worth noting have Adwords landing pages been removed?: It appears this update has removed many of those leader pages filled with Adwords links. I have tried many searches without finding a single page in the top 10. Have you found any? If not, then this update was well worth the shakeup… I hate those damnable leader pages.

More to come as I follow up on how MSN has affected rankings. If you see anything worth noting please post a comment, I am interested to hear your experiences with this update.