Search Engine Showdown

Live Search Category Archive

Live Links Lost Again

At least it worked for awhile. The trick of using the plus for getting Live's link searching commands to work again (link:, linkdomain: and inurl:) that has worked since those commands were disable in March has stopped working. It looks like link searching is again unavailable at Live, it continues to be incomplete at Google, so Yahoo! is the best choice for link searching.

While I can understand that problems with "automated usage for data mining" caused Microsoft to disable the command in March 2007, it is really sloppy of Microsoft that all these months later, the advanced search still has a "links to" section that does not work, and their online help still has instructions on how to use this non-functioning "links to" section.

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[full story] dated Dec 19, 2007 in Live Search

Link Searching at Live

Back in March, Live turned off access to link searching commands (link:, linkdomain: and inurl:) due to their abuse by automated data mining tools. Since Google limits the functionality of its link: search due to similar concerns, that left only Yahoo! with robust link searching commands. And while I hesitate to post this for fear of this trick being turned off, Karen Blakeman has posted a way to get all three to work again. Searchers just need to put a + in front of the command. It's a clever trick, and one that Karen told me has worked since June, at least. While Microsoft has said that they hope to bring the commands back in one form or another, this provides a way to use the commands now against their existing database. Enjoy it while it lasts!

[full story] dated Oct 29, 2007 in Live Search

Microsoft and Yahoo! Update Search

For an overview of some of the recent changes at Live Search and Yahoo!, see my Microsoft and Yahoo! Update Search Newsbreak article.

[full story] dated Oct 9, 2007 in Live Search | Yahoo!

Customizing Search Engines and Searching State Libraries

For one of my upcoming columns in Online, I compared the various custom search engines and other tools for building a topical search engine from a subset of a major search engine's database. Tools like Gigablast Custom Topic Search, Google Custom Search Engine, Live Search Macros, Swickis, Rollyo, and Yahoo! Search Builder. I compared a number of features (including the maximum number of sites, whether they support subdirectories, and if they have usage statistics). This information can now be seen on my new Customize Your Own Search Engine page.

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Bowker, Live, and Geo Books

Last week, Bowker announced an agreement with Microsoft that its Global Books In Print database will be used for "basic and value-added data that will enhance descriptions of books incorporated in the new Live Search Books." Considering that Live Books are primarily out-of-print, out-of-copyright books and that Global Books In Print covers, surprise, in-print books, it would be interesting to know how many matches between the two are found. I have yet to see any examples. Today, Google announces the addition of geographic data to its books. Books are analyzed for place names and a Google Map with a list of names and text snippets appear on some books' "About this book" page. It includes some snippet, limited preview, and full text books. According to Google,

When our automatic techniques determine that there are a good number of quality locations from a book to show you, you'll find a map on the "About this book" page.
The only way to find out if a particular book has been so analyzed is to look at that book's "About this book" page.

More Geo Info from Virtual Earth

Microsoft announces that they will be updating the aerial imagery in Live Local. Over 400,000 square miles of U.S. aerial imagery are supposed to "enhanced with high-resolution coverage." Interestingly, Greg Sterling notes that the imagery provider, GlobeXplorer, "was acquired by DigitalGlobe, which is one of the primary providers of imagery for Google Earth." That may cause some shifting of source data among the various geographic search engines in the future.

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[full story] dated Jan 10, 2007 in Geo Search | Live Search

Live Search Books

Last Tuesday, Microsoft announced the launch of Live Search Books. Consisting of copyright-free works, Live Search Books launches with a considerable collection. I have a more in-depth review in Information Today's NewsBreaks. In working on this story, I came across an interesting example of how some books may only be found at one service or the other.

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[full story] dated Dec 11, 2006 in Book Search | Live Search

Live Search Boxes

With the transition from MSN Search to Live, Microsoft has not introduced the ability to create Live Search boxes to place on your own Web site. This site offers a basic search box and an advanced. The advanced includes the ability to specify that Live only search certain Web sites or use a specific search macro.

[full story] dated Nov 2, 2006 in Live Search

Cornell in for Live Book Search

Both Live and Cornell have announced that Cornell University is joining the Live Book Search project. As with such announcements from Google Book search, that means it will be awhile (perhaps a year or more) before any books from that library are available online. For that matter, Live Book Search is not yet available, although it is supposed to go live (no pun intended) later this year.

[full story] dated Oct 17, 2006 in Book Search | Live Search

LinkFromDomain: New Advanced Search Operator at Live

Live has a new advanced operator. This is an all to rare occurence, so I'm happy to see it available. The Live Search Weblog post describes the new LinkFromDomain: field search operator. Basically, for a specified domain, this will find what external links the pages on the site point to. The command can be all lower case as in or with initial caps It can also be combined with other field searches. site:hr finds Croatian links on the Library of Congress Web site's pages. Danny takes an in-depth look at it as well.

[full story] dated Oct 17, 2006 in Live Search

MSN Search Not as Dead as I Thought

Back on September 15 I noted that MSN Search was gone, fully replaced by Live Search on all of my searches, at least. However, today I found some exceptions. I had only been using computers with Windows XP. Using IE6 on a Windows 2000 computer today, I found that I could still search at MSN Search with the old MSN Search interface when using the browser search button (assuming that the button is still set with the default of MSN search).

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[full story] dated Oct 7, 2006 in Live Search

MSN Search Gone, Replaced by Live Search

On Monday, when Live Search launched out of beta, MSN Search still worked as a separate site. Now, all the MSN Search links I have tried now just redirect to Live Search. So it looks to me like MSN Search has been retired in favor of Live Search. Even MSN sites in Canada and the UK redirect results at least to Live Search, although I would be curious to hear if some people still get MSN Search with the old design.

[full story] dated Sep 15, 2006 in Live Search

Live Launches out of Beta

Live Search, Microsoft's upgrade to MSN Search, has now officiallly launched out of beta. Introduced back in March, the version then included the ability to scrol through the first 200 or more results. That option is gone (except in the Image and Academic databases), but the whole interface does work more quickly and smoothly. Other significant changes as Live moves out of beta includes the addition of the advanced search form from MSN Search, where it was called Search Builder. The default list of other databases below the search box are Web, Images, News, Local, and QnA. The QnA, or Questions and Answers, is a new, free, public question and answer service. After running a search, these databases are listed in tabs near the top along with a "More" link that includes various additional databases that are still in beta, including Windows Live Search Academic, Video, Feeds, and Products. The Macros link or creating specialized search subsets is also under this More tab. The Image search now has a scratch pad for creating personal collections of images. Suggested related searches show up on the right above the ads.

One major absence from Live Search that was one of the great benefits of MSN Search is the link to the Microsoft Encarta encyclopedia. On MSN Search, Encarta was one of the tabs at the top. Encarta makes some articles available free on the Web while others are only available for those who paid for a subscription. When an article is found on MSN Search that is part of Encarta, users get a two-hour free pass for viewing even the fee-based content. In addition, every time a new search from MSN Search leads to another Encarta article, another free pass (with a full two hours) is available.

So is the free access to Encarta gone? With a little search ingenuity, the free pass is still available via Live Search. Just search for encarta plus some subject terms or plus the query terms. Go to any of the links and note the yellow bar on the top that shows the free pass still works on searches from Live.

[full story] dated Sep 11, 2006 in Live Search

Live QnA

With all the success and growth that Yahoo! Answers has seen, it should be no surprise that Microsoft is now trying a similar product: LiveQnA (beta). Their blog post announces a QnQ blog, tagging, integration with Live Spaces, voting, email and RSS updates, and a forums. It will be interesting to see if this has similar success to Yahoo!'s endeavor.

[full story] dated Sep 1, 2006 in Live Search

Dump ODP Description in Google

Google's sitemaps blog, Inside Google Sitemaps, reports a change in its More Control Over Page Snippets posting. Previously, some sites that appeared in the Open Directory would have their Open Directory description show up after the page title in Google results listings instead of the more common keyword-in-context extract (or as Google calls it, a "snippet"). This could become a problem for sites and searchers when the Open Directory description no long accurately reflected the content of the page. Now, site owners can determine whether or not the Open Directory description is used by inserting a meta tag. This is not a new idea. Microsoft introduced the possibility (back on May 22. And both use the same syntax of META NAME="ROBOTS" CONTENT="NOODP".

[full story] dated Jul 13, 2006 in Google | Live Search

MSN Drops Yahoo! Ads

According to Yahoo! itself, MSN Search will drop Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) ads as of July 1 and start using its own.

[full story] dated Jun 30, 2006 in Live Search | Yahoo!

Google Traffic Breakdown

Bill Tancer from HitWise has several fascinating posts derived from their analysis of Internet traffic patterns. He has one on The top 20 most visited Google sites along with their relative percentage of traffic to each. Due to the interest from that post, he followed up with a similar one for MSN and Yahoo! and then compared each of those three within specific categories. At Google, their Web database got about 80% of the traffic among those top 20 Google properties for the week in quesiton while image search had about 10%. That left only 10% for the remaining properties. Google Directory had more traffic than Google Local. Many other interesting points can be seen in these charts and graphs.

[full story] dated May 19, 2006 in Google | Live Search | Yahoo!

Alexa & A9 Switch from Google to MSN

It looks like both Alexa and A9 have switched from using an abbreviated Google Web database to using MSN's (although it is labeled which is more of a different front end to the older MSN Search database rather than a different underlying database). At the moment, there is no longer any image search at A9 (previous one was from Google). Nor do I see Google text ads on Amazon anymore.

At this point, there is no official word about the change on A9's press release page nor at Alexa nor Amazon. (Nor does Google mention it in their blog. Surprised?)

[full story] dated May 1, 2006 in A9 | Google | Live Search

New Relevancy Study

Danny has a summary of a French relevancy study which compares Google, MSN, Yahoo!, Exalead, Voila, and By one measure (best relevance of top five results), Google and Yahoo! tie for top relevancy scores. Using a different measure (at least one good result in top five), Yahoo! beats Google by a bit with MSN and Exalead not very far behind.

MSN's Live Search Beta

Yesterday, MSN launched its new Windows Live Search interface in beta. It features a personalizable home page. The search results interface has the most significant changes. Users can scroll through the first 200+ results without clicking next. A slider (upper right corner) changes the amount of information for each record. The image search results also scroll, have a slider for changing the number of results (and size of thumbnails), and has a zoom in mouseover effect for each image. Unfortunately, no advanced search form is available on either page. Nor are there direct links to the other databases. There are some cool user interface tricks here, but the initial launch was rocky, and it needs more debugging.

[full story] dated Mar 9, 2006 in Live Search

MSN Search Cosmetic Changes

MSN Search made a few changes yesterday. As noted in their blog, the background color from blue to a "steely grey." The search box has been lengthened to allow seeing more of the search query, and hit are now highlighted in the title as well as the extract.

[full story] dated Feb 16, 2006 in Live Search

MSN Calculator Does Algebra

As seen on Digg, MSN Search's calculator function can handle differential equations. Enter something like ((122.78+(x^2))/190)=.93 into the MSN Search box and have it solved for x.

[full story] dated Oct 17, 2005 in Live Search

New Syntax at MSN Search

MSN Search explains its new operators for finding specific file types, advanced link searching, pages containing certain file types, and more. Here is the list of new prefixes:

  • filetype: for non-HTML files like PDFs and Word .docs.
  • linkdomain: for link pointing to any page in a specified domain
  • contains: for pages with certain content types
  • inurl: for terms within URLs
  • inanchor: for words with anchor text on linking pages
  • intitle: for word within the HTML title element
  • inbody: to specify that the word should be in the body of the document

Note that after the prefix, multiple terms can be ORed together by putting them in parentheses. The example given is contains:(rss xml rdf atom). Also note that phrases are not allowed after the prefix. Online one word or the ORed set.

[full story] dated Jun 24, 2005 in Live Search

Infospace to Add MSN Search

Dogpile and other Infospace search properties will add MSN Search to Google, Ask Jeeves, and Yahoo! this summer according to a company press release. With that addition, Dogpile (and other Infospace brands like Webcrawler and Metacrawler) will be the only major meta search engine to include the four primary search engines. Most meta search engines do not have contracts with all four.

[full story] dated Apr 18, 2005 in Live Search | Meta Search

Editing Encarta

MSN's Encarta encyclopedia is following in the footsteps of the upstart Wikipedia by allowing readers to suggests changes and additions to articles with Encarta. The suggested changes go through the editors to fact check before they will be added to the page. Encarta does ask contributors to provide their source of information when possible. Remember that a 2 hour free pass to the commercial Encarta content is available when using MSN Search.

[full story] dated Apr 13, 2005 in Live Search

MSN Search Review Updated

With MSN's new database and search engine, I've finally updated the MSN Search review to reflect the changes. I also left up the old review of MSN Search when it was using the Inktomi database from Yahoo! for the sake of comparison.

[full story] dated Mar 13, 2005 in Live Search | Site Updates

MSN Search Now Live with Own Database

MSN has been working throughout 2004 on creating its own search engine database rather than continuing to use the one from Yahoo! (formerly Inktomi). First with their technology preview and then the beta version launched in Nov., MSN has been testing out their new database and interface. Today the beta version has fully moved to the main MSN Search site. It is pretty similar to what has been available from the beta site over the last few months. Danny has a detailed overview.

[full story] dated Feb 1, 2005 in Live Search

MSN Desktop Search

MSN Search Beta now has a desktop search product available within its beta MSN Toolbar Suite with Desktop Search. Chris has a review.

[full story] dated Dec 13, 2004 in Live Search

MSN Search Beta Release

Following up on the previous test technology preview release, MSN has launched its new, unique search engine database at As opposed to the previous tests, this version has advanced search features under the "Search Builder" link including site limits, link searches, selected country and region limits, 12 language limits, and three slider bars for adjusting the ranking. The beta version results page includes links to MSN's own cached pages, providing yet another source for cached copies. The cached versions' headers note the date the page was last indexed, but they do not highlight search terms. Nested Boolean searching is supported with the +, -, and | symbols as well as with AND, OR, NOT operators which must be in uppercase. Phrase searching with "double quotes" is available as are the site:, link:, language:, url:, and location: command line options. With this launch, MSN claimed a database size of 5 billion pages, prompting Google to increase its count from 4.2 to 8 billion pages just hours before MSN launched this beta. In conjunction with the beta launch, MSN has also launched an MSN Search blog.

New MSN Search Preview

Microsoft is offering another Technology Preview of its new search engine. While initial search number estimates look large, clicking through to the second page makes that number drop for the few searches I tried. I would be far more interested if they included more advanced search features.

[full story] dated Oct 4, 2004 in Live Search

MSN Search Toolbar

Joining most of the other search engines, MSN announces the launch of a beta version of a toolbar. It offers search, keyword highlighting, pop-up blocking, and access to basic MSN services.

[full story] dated Jan 26, 2004 in Live Search

MSN Drops LookSmart

As announced last year, MSN Search no longer uses results from LookSmart as the first results for most queries on its simple search. Instead, the search results are primarily from Inktomi, which used to follow the LookSmart results. Some internal MSN content (and ads) may show up before the Inktomi results.

MSN Search Exploring News Search

MSN Search is finally starting to add a news search. However, it is only in beta and is only available at the MSN Search site for the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain. Powered by Moreover, it claims more than 4,000 sources. Read about it from the MSN Newsbot site or try the UK version. To search, look for the "Search news" box in the middle of the left margin rather than the regular MSN Search UK box at the top right. It searches many news sites from outside the UK (including US sources) and seems to go back about one month. It would benefit from a date sort option.

[full story] dated Nov 17, 2003 in Live Search | News Search

LookSmart Leaves MSN and Introduces New Ad Program

Yesterday, LookSmart announced that their results will no longer show up on MSN Search after Jan. 15, 2004. According to a SearchDay report, MSN will move up Inktomi results (which already display when no matches in LookSmart are found or when you use the advanced search) when LookSmart results are gone. Eventually, Microsoft plans to also replace Inktomi with its own custom-built search product, but that product is not ready yet.

So will LookSmart survive? Today, LookSmart announced that it is getting into the ad bidding engine business with what they call a "bid for placement" program. This will compete with pay-per-click ad bidding programs at Google and Overture. LookSmart continues to have several partners including CNET, Road Runner, InfoSpace,, Cox Internet, and others, but MSN delivered over half its income from such sources. They also still have the WiseNut search engine, but there has not been much publicly-visible development of WiseNut and it tends to have quite old data.

[full story] dated Oct 7, 2003 in Live Search | LookSmart


MSN Search has used ads from Overture, first results from LookSmart, and Inktomi for secondary results for years. Microsoft now is preparing a new database built by its own crawler. The new MSNBOT is actively crawling the Web, but it is only a prototype. None of its retrieved records are directly feeding the current MSN Search database. However, the FAQ does state that “Although we have not set a date, it is our intention to eventually integrate the crawled contents into MSN Search results.” So look for a new MSN Search sometime in the future that may (or may not) replace Overture, Looksmart, and/or Inktomi.

[full story] dated Jun 19, 2003 in Live Search

New File Formats at MSN Search

MSN Search has launched their new version (in beta testing since at least Feb. 11). On the basic search page, there is less clutter and no banner ads. The advanced search has added limits for PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents, and the underlying Inktomi database via both interfaces now includes those kinds of files. Note that the basic search goes to LookSmart directory hits first and then Inktomi while the Advanced search goes straight to Inktomi results.

[full story] dated Mar 8, 2003 in Inktomi | Live Search

More File Formats from Inktomi

I am starting to see PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets indexed at some Inktomi partner sites. HotBot now has PDF, doc, and xls files. These records also show up at About, Overture, and Overture-powered sites like None of the partners have a specific limit for the new file types, except for the Position Tech form. But THE major Inktomi partner, MSN Search, does not seem to have any of the extra file formats at this point.

[full story] dated Dec 23, 2002 in HotBot | Inktomi | Live Search

Updated Reviews

I've made minor updates to several reviews including HotBot, Lycos, MSN, Fast Search, and Inktomi. Changes include updates on which Inktomi features work at HotBot and MSN, and a note on how to get the MSN advanced search to work without a search term. (Thanks, Gary, for that tip.) I've also added the Postion Tech Inktomi search to the Inktomi review.

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