The following are some recent odds and ends in the news related to Microsoft’s Live Search that did not get a post of their own.
Microsoft is really pushing Live Search cashback with the latest being the announcement of a “Back-to-School Deal Days” promotion featuring up to double the cashback which will run for some unspecified time during August. Admittedly, Live Search cashback is a different site than Live Search, but supposedly the golden dollar signs will also appear in the latter location signaling a cashback deal although they oddly seem to be very hard to find that way.
Speaking of oddities, have you noticed that search.live.com redirects to live.com which is usefully the home Live Search page, but then all results and subsequent searches are delivered at search.msn.com? I suppose that’s not really a problem, but there’s a related general problem according to major Yahoo investor Eric Jackson:
“I had never used Microsoft search before a couple of weeks ago. I sat down to try it and then realized I had no idea what to type in. I tried Microsoft.com, but the only search bar was to help me search MSFT internal directories. I then remembered seeing some advertisement for ‘Live Search,’ so I tried Livesearch.com. It was some spam site. Finally, I tried Live.com, and the results were no good. I will never use it again. When I want to Google or find Yahoo, I know what to punch in. Simple as that,” Jackson said.
Of course, Jackson thinks Microsoft still needs to buy Yahoo to fix Live Search, but to my mind Live Search does indeed have a branding problem, largely inherited.
As for the quality of the search results, here’s an odd Live Search factoid from SEO consultant Scott Jason at SEO News:
We need some reliable inside information to help us plan for search engine optimization and search engine marketing strategies. So we turn to a leader – the UK based company Neutralize.com. They confirm that users of Google versus those of MSN are almost exact opposites when it comes to clicking on natural versus pay per click search listings. Here’s what their extensive research has revealed:
On Google, 72.3% of visitors rely on the natural listings that SEO helps you get.
Only 27.7% use the paid links you purchase as part of your SEM plan.
On MSN, the opposite is true. Only 28.8% of their visitors go for the organic listings you get from SEO.
But a whopping 71.2% can’t wait to click on those paid links.
Jason’s interest is understandably in what this stark difference means for his clients, but what is more interesting to me is the broader question of why the difference exists in the first place. My guess would be the quality of the Live Search results is such that despairing users throw themselves on the ads, but there could easily be more at work here.
Whatever the case, the Live Search folks still want to play in the big leagues and to that end announced an update to the Live Search Webmaster Center beta bringing the features up to the level of or surpassing those offered by Google and Yahoo to webmasters in their similar free offerings.