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Google and MSN search experiment with titles

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.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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