It’s big news when Google changes anything. Google is constantly tinkering with making results appear more relevent—they were the first to extract text from your page to show the snippet under the title on the results screen. And Google is now starting to pull descriptions and even titles from your Open Directory (DMOZ) listing. Garnering less attention, however, is MSN’s use of LookSmart for some titles and descriptions.
Some say that Google has used descriptions from Open Directory for a while, but I have to admit that I was unaware of it. But everyone agrees that Google is now taking titles from ODP at times, which is definitely new behvior. The Search Engine Roundtable has a good synopsis of what Google is up to.
Less discussed is the way MSN Search uses LookSmart for titles and descriptions. I thought MSN dropped LookSmart back in 2003, but there must be some relationship still afoot. Check out this query for “IBM” and look at the title and description. They are both taken straight from the LookSmart directory.
Google changes get a lot of attention, but MSN Search carries about 15% of all search traffic, so what it does is important, too.
If you are interested in more information on how search engines construct titles and snippets, check out my Biznology Newsletter this month.