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Thursday, December 7th, 2006

Microsoft Book Search Beta

Following in the steps of Google, Microsoft has launched a Beta version of its non-copyright book search. Live Book Search doesn’t look like much, and when visiting the site there are no immediate indications that there is anything different here than the regular live search, but performing a search will reveal book results, and a change in the title tag to “Live Search Books: ”

The new Live Book Search will include more than 25 million pages from the British Library which had received funding from Microsoft to transfer the out of copyright material into digital format. It will also include collections scanned from the University of California as well as the University of Toronto.

Sometime next year these book search results will be integrated into the regular windows live search results after the beta period has ended. Book search will also be integrated as a category in the main Live search engine.

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Google, Yahoo and MSN Market Share

Danny Sullivan recently posted the latest search engine market share stats in the SearchEngineWatch Blog . The order of the big three, has without much surprise, remained the same with Google the clear leader followed by Yahoo, then MSN.


Since this time last year Google has seen a noticeable increase in their
overall market share as they continue to grow in popularity. Its a slow
and steady climb with no apparent end in sight. With the launch of new
tools and features and the recent acquisition of YouTube, its ever increasing
online presence is likely a leading contributor to this consistent rise
in market share.


Yahoo remains in the middle. Having had some dips over the past 12 months
they have risen slightly according to NetRatings and dropped slightly
with comScore; however, overall, they have remained fairly static. This
is not necessarily a bad thing as it does show stability over the long
term and retention of return users. It will be interesting to see if by
this time in 2007 they remain flat or if an increase in market share will
be seen.


Since this time last year Microsoft has seen dips across the board and
is now at its lowest point in the last 12 months. Currently hovering around
the 10% mark it falls in third place and while 10% may sound low when
considering the vastly increasing number of people performing searches,
that figure still represents a significant piece of the pie. Certainly
MSN would like to be higher, and with the launch of the new Windows Live,
probably expected an increased share, but many people are afraid of change,
and they just may have scared off some of their loyal users. That said,
I would personally expect Windows Live, as it is further refined, to help
MSN over the next 12 months.

What does all this mean for website owners? What it really comes down
to is, yes you will get the most traffic by ranking #1 in Google, but
you should not discount Yahoo and MSN, as they can still deliver a substantial
number of visitors to your site. General optimization and responsible
link building campaigns will help out with all three engines. Stay away
from anything that looks fishy, continue to build quality content and
incoming links, and keep your pages well optimized and you will stand
the best chance of success.

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: Read more… has released a great new search option for webmasters which allows you to see just how many links point to other websites from within your own. To use it simply search using the following syntax without the quotes and replacing “” with your domain (do not use ‘www.’):

“” Read more…

Welcome the new Microsoft… the media mogul and software giant

Google has proven it works, so guess what? Microsoft is now jumping on board and I expect they will be astounded by their positive reception because this is a great addition of quality advertising territory. Microsoft has launched a powerful advertising solution called Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions that will allow advertisers to get exposure across the following brands:

  • MSN
    Engage up to 380 million users with your advertisement on this popular portal.
  • XBOX
    Advertise directly to the gamers while they surf their XBOX Live sites.
  • Windows Live
    This new brand will gain a significant following over the next few years and as Microsoft puts it this “is a highly desireable audience” packed full of confident online consumers.
  • Microsoft Office Online
    Microsoft is targeting enterprise advertisers for this site that is designed as a technical extension of the popular Office suite of applications.
  • Windows Mobile
    Send text ads or interactive images direct to handhelds through this portal for mobile users.
  • Microsoft TV
    Here is an opportunity for exposure across Microsoft’s new age IPTV system that will provide broadcast-quality video and television to users.

So what does this all mean? Microsoft has finally clued in to the online advertising revolution and opened the doors to becoming much more than a software manufacturer. Now you can advertise across Microsoft’s considerable network in areas that you never could before.

Hmm, I wonder if they will start to buy up newspapers soon? :-)

While it is currently by invitation only, Monday night, Microsoft released a beta version of Soapbox to compete with the highly successful YouTube. Currently you can request an invitation; however, when clicking the link I was presented with an error “Oops. It’s not anything you did–it’s us. Our site’s down. Please try again later.” No real surprise here, after all it is a Microsoft Beta.

YouTube is the ultimate video sharing venue attracting 34 million visitors in August according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Users worldwide can upload and share their videos in just about every category imaginable. Read more…

I know this was happened while back (2005 in fact) but a friend of mine (thanks Quentin!) showed me this link to Microsoft’s job post board and I couldn’t resist sharing it with you.

In 2005 MSN’s search results were infamous for their less than optimal relevance. Well, as a result, Microsoft posted a job for fast typers to help them create Hand Crafted Results when “ranking algorithms do not pass the confidence threshold”. Read more…

A few short months ago Microsoft quietly introduced adCenter, their Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising platform. My first impressions of adCenter are relatively positive. Based mostly on the setup process here are my thoughts on the newest player in the PPC industry.
Signing up for a new account is quite simple. There is a $5 sign up charge though, so take note, you won’t get a look at the inner workings unless you are willing to spend a couple bucks. Years ago when I first looked at Google AdWords, I loved the fact that you could create an account, and go in and play with everything and look around. You didn’t pay a dime until you were ready to have your ads go live, that is when the setup fee of $5US or $10CDN (not sure where this exchange rate came from?) was charged.

Over the years we have answered many a phone call where a prospective client is frustrated with the poor performance of their website(s). Obviously the business profile for each website is unique, but common to many of conversations is the following scenario that we would like to share with you. For the purpose of this example we will use a site owner by the name of Sam.

The question from Sam (the caller):
“ My site is 2 years old and well established online; it is well indexed on the major search engines and has a couple rankings here and there. Unfortunately after so many years of work on the site the rankings and traffic for the website are still not where I need them. I am just not sure if I should commit my limited budget to reworking a website that has been so difficult to promote; it is becoming a bigger money hole than my boat. Should I continue to invest in my current website or try launching another site with slightly different content and a new domain?” Read more…

Founder Bill Gates will be stepping away from the bulk of his duties at Microsoft in two years time. Starting in July 2008, Gates, aged 50, will devote the majority of his time to the management of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest charitable organization.

Gates made the announcement yesterday afternoon at a news conference held after the markets had closed for the day. Gates will remained involved as Chairman of the corporation and will retain his vast stock holdings. “I always see myself as being the largest shareholder in Microsoft,” Gates told reporters. He holds about 9.5% of all Microsoft stocks, estimated to be worth $21.6 Billion. Read more…