5 Reasons Microsoft Search Still Sucks

All the talk about Yahoo, Microsoft, and Google reminded me that I hadn’t checked to see if Microsoft has made any improvement to their search results in quite a while…

I know one term doesn’t make a rule, but I’ve found the term [Seattle Real Estate Blog] to be great for testing out the search engines over the years. Over the past three years, Google has always delivered relevant results for the term, while it used to be full of spam for both Yahoo and Microsoft. It’s interesting to note that Yahoo has made great strides over the past few years, while Microsoft is still lost in the dark.

Here’s the top five results by search engine:

Google [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Rain City Guide
  2. Seattle RE Prof
  3. Seattle Bubble
  4. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog
  5. Guide to Seattle RE

All of these are great blogs and worthy of being in the top five.

Yahoo [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. Seattle RE Prof
  2. Redfin Corporate Blog
  3. Rain City Guide
  4. Redfin Sweet Digs
  5. Ardell’s Seattle RE blog

Again, all of these are great blogs worthy of being in the top five for the search results.

MSN Live [Seattle Real Estate Blog]:

  1. “Seattle Real Estate Blog”
    • Spam site that’s been around for years… A few years ago the webmaster got very pissy with me when I told him he had to stop republishing EVERY Rain City Guide article in full on his site. There’s nothing original on the site as it is all republished articles from Seattle blogs and news sources.
  2. seattle-real-estate-blog.com
    • Parked domain with no content
  3. “Real Estate Blogs”
    • Landing page with links to actual blogs. This is the best of the top five results, but still not a Seattle real estate blog.
  4. “Seattle Real Estate and Puget Sound Real Estate – A blog”
    • Account suspended by BlueHost. This normally happens when someone is posting spam.
  5. “Real Estate Blog”
    • Takes you to a landing page that says “This blog currently has no posts.”

There results are horrible. Two spam sites, two sites with no content, and one page with a few links. There are some great real estate blogs in Seattle, but Microsoft can’t seem to find them as their search algorithms are still so easily gamed by spammers.

Scoble thinks Microsoft should buy up Facebook and keep it closed to all but their search engine. Personally, I think they’d find a way to screw that up.

UPDATE: NYTs says Microsoft is getting ready to PAY people to use their search. How sad.

Going way back before I took my job at…

…Move, I landed a 30-minute meeting with Dan Rosensweig (COO of Yahoo at the time), where I tried to convince him that I should lead up a team for Yahoo to build a platform that would help real estate professionals market themselves at a local level using the various tools Yahoo had in-house (at the time, it was something like Yahoo 360, Flickr, upcoming, local business reviews, maps, listings, etc.).

Dan’s strongest argument against such a platform was that I should prove out the concept first by doing it myself since almost all of these platforms had APIs (and theoretically, he was right, but I was looking for a regular paycheck!).

Anyway, I only remembered this story after reading Joel’s post about Seth Godin’s new product: SquidZipper.

Even two years after my call with Dan, the market for providing a free, quality, and local marketing platform for agents is still largely undeveloped… and while one of the real estate focused verticals like Trulia or Zillow could theoretically fill this niche, it still seems like such a no brainer for one of the big guys like Google, Microsoft or Yahoo to take a page from Seth’s playbook and create a niche-specific platform for their various tools!

Seth’s platform is a great idea… but it is still missing the one thing that could really make a platform like this work: an abundance of consumers!

Highlights of the Hitwise data for real estate traffic…

Inman just published the latest Hitwise traffic data for the month of January: Yahoo up, MSN down in latest Hitwise real estate site rankings

My commentary:

  • The fact that Hitwise had Move.com bouncing up to #2 last month only only to fall back to #8 the following month says less about Move.com’s traffic and more about the erratic nature of Hitwise data.
  • MSN real estate is dropping like a dead weight (below whitefence???). The homepage of MSN probably accounts for a substantial amount of the traffic to MSN Real Estate, so maybe they just put such a large emphasis on election news this month at the expense of real estate stories.
  • Trulia got bumped out of the Top 10 by HUD. 🙁

Hitwise Top 20 real estate sites

Finally, in reading over the fact that Hitwise is giving stats all the way down to real estate websites ranked beyond #1000, I can’t help but wonder where traffic to my websites stand… As bad as Alexa is, some data is better than no data, so I thought I’d plot out a few sites to give me a better perspective:

Alexa Real Estate Traffic

Here’s what I learned (permalink) about the “Alexa Reach” of some real estate sites:

Armed with the realization that I run two sites that should be included, I can’t help but wonder how I get my sites on the radar of the Hitwise people.  It would probably never amount to much, but I figure that sites like RCG and BHB definitely deserve to be included in this list!

I spent some time on the Hitwise website and I can’t seem to find a way to submit a new site for inclusion in their list.   Does anyone know what it takes to get a site included in their “real estate” data?

(Also, there’s a small chance that sites like BHB and RCG are already on their list, but unless someone with access to the full list wants to check that for me, I’m assuming we’re not.)

I’m with Joel in wondering what…

..MicroHoo would mean for online real estate…  (and especially for Move who did not renew the contracts to run the listings behind AOL Real Estate AND Yahoo Rentals last year).

My guess is that it would be a good thing for Move as it would provide at least another year of breathing space while senior execs at MicroHoo focused on trying to synergize their future online ad platforms.

On a REAL wild speculation…  I think best thing this combined MicroHoo could do in the real estate space is would be to write a big paycheck to one of the big players (probably Zillow, but even Trulia or Move) and let them worry about real estate while MicroHoo sorts everything else out!  🙂

RE.net Acronyms

Jim got me thinking about some of the acronyms that I use on 4realz and other common terms I’ve seen others use:

  • AG: AgentGenius.com
  • AR: ActiveRain
  • BR: BlueRoof
  • BHB: Bloodhound Blog
  • CB: Coldwell Banker
  • CH: Cyberhomes
  • CL: Craigslist
  • CMS: Content Management System
  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management
  • FBS: FBS Blog
  • FOREM: Future of Real Estate Marketing
  • FORET: Future of Real Estate Technology
  • FD: FrontDoor
  • G: Google
  • GDH: Garage with a Detached Home
  • HV: HouseValues
  • HG: HomeGain
  • IC: InternetCrusade
  • KW: Keller Williams
  • M: Microsoft
  • MBL: MyBlogLog
  • MLB: MLBroadcast
  • MLS: Multiple-Listing Service (this means different things to different people!)
  • MLW: MyLevenworth
  • NAR: National Association of Realtors
  • P2A or P2: Point2Agent
  • RCG: Rain City Guide
  • RCV: RealCentralVA
  • RDC, R or R.com: Realtor.com
  • RE.net: The real estate blogosphere
  • REB: The Real Estate Bloggers
  • RES: Real Estate Shows
  • RET: Real Estate Tomato
  • REW: Real Estate Webmasters
  • REZ: Real Estate Zebra
  • RF: Redfin
  • RT: RealTown
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization
  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing
  • TP: Top Producer
  • TPG: The Phoenix Real Estate Guy
  • T: Trulia
  • WM: WellcomeMat
  • WP: WordPress.org
  • WP.com: WordPress.com
  • Y!: Yahoo!
  • Z: Zillow

UPDATE: Based on suggestions in the comments I added a few more names to the above list and decided to alphabetize them. (I also went back and added links to the various sites, which I should have done from the start!)