How to Analyze a Competing Web Site Using Their Microsoft Live Search Results

When you are analyzing a competing Web site, there is a difference between SERP research with Google and SERP research with Microsoft Live Search. For one thing, you might find the rankings quite different; the competitor you’ve been analyzing on one search engine may not even show up in the top-ranking Web pages for the other search engine.

Because Google has the lion’s share of traffic, many sites focus their optimization efforts there exclusively. Whether you want to examine your competitor's pages as seen through Microsoft’s eyes depends on how much your target audience tends to use Microsoft Live Search. Do you get enough potential traffic to warrant SEO efforts on multiple fronts? That’s up to you, but here’s how you can do it:

  • Backlinks. Although Microsoft hasn’t actually built a tool to check backlinks in their search engine, you can use a third-party free tool called the Link Popularity Check, available at www.marketleap.com. This gives you figures for Google, MSN (Microsoft Live Search), and Yahoo!, so you can pull out the MSN ones.

  • Different URL. To check for URL differences, run a search for your keyword on MSN to see the results page. Notice the URL that displays for the competitor’s listing. Keeping that in mind, click the link to go to the active page. In the address bar, compare the URL showing to the one you remembered. Are they the same? Are they different? If they’re different, how different? Although an automatic redirect from http://domain.com to http://www.domain.com (or vice versa) is normal, other types of swaps may indicate that something fishy is going on. Do the cache check in the next bullet to find out whether the page the search engine sees is entirely different than the one live visitors are shown.

  • Cached version. To check the cached pages, in the Microsoft Live Search results, click Cached Page below the competitor’s listing. The cached version of the page displays, showing the date the site was last indexed at the top (but with no highlighting on your keywords).

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