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MSN Search

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Note: As of 2009, MSN Search is now Bing.

What is MSN Search?

MSN Search is a crawler-based engine put together by Microsoft and incorporating proprietary Microsoft technology in its search services. There are three factors (probably many more, but these are the main ones) that MSN uses to put together its search index:
  • MSN Search's spider, MSNBot, crawls the Web one link at a time in order to find pages to add to MSN's index
  • The index generator technology sorts pages into ranking, subjects, directories, etc. Think of a post office here, with every letter going into a particular box according to zip, address, mail class, etc.
  • "Query Server" - from the How MSN Search Works page: "The final piece of the puzzle is the query server that matches your search terms with the index's ranked sites. The query server analyses your search terms and compares them with each page's rank to determine how relevant each page is to your search terms."

MSN Search Home Page

There are actually two different places in which you can utilize MSN Search: the official MSN Search Home Page, or the Official MSN.com Page. There are quite a few differences between the two, namely that the main MSN.com page does not include a few of the advanced search and search building features that MSN Search does. For this article I'll be focusing only on the MSN Search service.

The MSN Search home page is pretty sparse, with the search bar squarely in the middle of the browser window. You have a few options available to you as text tabs above the search bar itself: Web, Desktop, News, Images, Local (still in beta at the time of this writing), and Encarta, Microsoft's online encyclopedia.

One very nice feature is the Local button at the end of the search box field. To use this, enter in your query and instead of hitting "Search", try clicking Local in the drop-down. You'll instantly be transported to a search results page with local results for your query. Now, you might be wondering, how in the world does MSN Search know where I live? I found a good explanation of this at Search Engine Watch:

"By default, your browser's IP address is used to determine your location. You can override this by explicitly entering your current location using the Settings command. The "Near Me" function works quite well, primarily because Microsoft has tagged every web page in its index that has geographic information, using what the company calls an "overlapping tiles model," starting with zip code, then including neighborhood, region, city, state and country information if available."

This article about MSN Search is continued on page two.

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