Sep 27, 2007 114 reads by Navneet Kaushal

The first ever Microsoft Live Search Searchification Day was held yesterday. The purpose of this was to showcase the improvements made to LiveSearch, specifically in its core search technology. Also, changes have also been made in other areas like local, shopping, entertainment and health.

The event began with Satya Nadella, Corporate VP of Microsoft's Search and Advertising Platform Group who said, "We have made dramatic progress in delivering a better search experience to our customers. We know what kinds of things consumers are searching for, and we have invested in those key high-interest verticals, including entertainment, shopping, health and local search. With the core platform in place we intend to win customers and earn their loyalty one query at a time."

Below is a breakdown of some of the highlights of the event:-

An interesting mention was their admittance to falling short in search. Though Microsoft has 69 million monthly searchers (compared to Google's almost double 142 million and Yahoo's 104 million).

As seen on Webware, Satya Nadella said, "We basically crawled the entire Web, Amazon, Price Grabber, Yahoo Shopping, any other Web site, and really got to an algorithmically computed score effectively, which we call an 'opinion index,' which synthesizes what people are saying about this particular product."

This particularly has been caused by 6 things which they are tackling right now:- coverage, query intent enhancements, query refinement, Ranknet, Structured information extraction and Rich answers. Microsoft said it has bettered its relevance (measurement of how close the SERP is to the keyword/phrase typed). Additionally, its index has seen more than 4x documents listed. This total is over 20 billion.

Coverage: More than 20 billion indexed documents.

Query Intent: The engineers at Google have tackled about 30% of this problem the problems that stem from punctuation analysis, stop words, stem and the equivalence of terms.

Query Refinement: Now available is query refinement through which, Microsoft automatically corrects and suggests almost 8 percent of the searches.

RankNet: The architecture of RankNet is based on that of biological neural networks and brains. As for eg:- Putting together many words in many word queries.

Structured Information Extraction: This speaks mostly about different verticals and different grouping.

Rich Answers:

"new answers platform

answers and multi media are incorporated in main serp

main improvements to news, images answers, local and maps

Example – San Jose weather – results in page. Don’t need to click away.

Example – stocks – real time data.

Example – Barack Obama – integrated news

Example – space shuttle video – video in results

hmmmm – Universal Search?…Everybody remember that Ask did it first and better.

so how do you measure relevance?

Human Judged – uses trained judges to asses the results relevance

Blind Taste Test – judges don’t know which SE they are seeing results from

Positional – 1st results is worth more than 2nd which is worth more than 3rd etc

Scaled – perfect results worth more than excellent worth more than good etc.

Ongoing – measured continuously

how does msn stack up? 2005 not good. 2006 better. 2007 – they believe they are equal to Google for relevance and ahead of yahoo. they also think they were ahead of Yahoo in 2006 for relevance.”

Local & Maps: Microsoft takes great pride in local and maps. Apparently,

32% of map search is for local

67% of local search is an SERP.

42% are regular users who use this actively.

In terms of Virtual Earth, Microsoft is including a 3rd dimension to the world wide web. The company is creating 3D digital representations of major cites and they claim to be able to finish 500 done by end of 2007. Microsoft aims to better its search in four verticals. These include: entertainment, shopping, local/maps and health. With every LiveSearch, Microsoft intends to add more verticals. Based on knowledge, 10 % of search queries are related to entertainment while 3-5% have to do with health.

Shopping vertical: Also available will be a shopping vertical where 86% will be the number of online users who will shop or seek products via search engine; 16% of most search queries are shopping-related and 70% search queries related to products are only for categories and not specific products.

Health Vertical: Some of the major investments that Microsoft have made in their health vertical, include inline article results, topic dashboard, trusted sources (mayo clinic) and action modules. The 3 biggest health related queries are:

  1. Sex
  2. Pregnancy
  3. Diabetes

Diabetes: Massive information available on diabetes. From medicines, therapies to alternative therapies and everything in between.

The impressive feature about this is:-

  • inclusion of filtered SERPS.
  • Every 90 days, logs and cookies are deleted.
  • Microsoft takes a lot of steps and procedures to provide and safeguard online security and privacy.

Translation: Most impressive was the bit on translation. Now you are able to halve the screen and see both the translated and original version. Also, if you place the cursor on a non-English section, it shows a pop-up window with translation intact.

Chris Overd of LiveSide.Net said, “The important part of this is what shows on page 1 (of search results), and here Microsoft have made the advances in relevance they have been talking about for the past few years. This makes today’s beta release of Live Search a much stronger competitor to Yahoo and Google.”

Mary Jo Foley also writes that,

"Speaking of subsequent releases, Microsoft is sticking to its plans to do a major spring and a fall release every year of Live Search, with incremental updates coming in between. The spring release, according to Live Search General Manager Derrick Connell, will bring enhancements around “community.” (He wouldn’t elaborate.) This doesn’t sound like tagging/social bookmarking kinds of stuff, as Connell told me that Microsoft decided those features appealed to too small a percentage of the potential user base. Maybe we’ll see more peer reviews/recommendations across areas beyond shopping…? Just a guess…. And what about rumors I had heard regarding Live Search allowing users to search their Outlook e-mail? “There’s a tie-in there,” Connell said, and Microsoft will have more to say about it later."

Is better than Google? Not by miles. But, credit goes to for improving and making additions to its search engine. About all the tall claims, we can let them pass for now.

Present also were Todd Friesen, Vanessa Fox, and Greg Boser.

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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