New MSN Out Of Beta, Driving Nearly 50 Percent Of Bing Queries

Microsoft is formally launching its much improved MSN portal today. I wrote about the preview version and the wide range of improvements when it first came out in November. There are lots of  interesting elements to the site, including the “local edition,” which is basically a collection of persistent Bing search queries presented in a structured and browse-able way.

Bob Visse, GM for MSN at Microsoft, told me that over the course of the beta period, the company had tweaked the Bing search box and its presentation at the top of the page — the blue outline; the subtle blue gradient at the top of the page — to make it more prominent, with good results.

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Microsoft previously told me in November that globally MSN has approximately 600 million users. In the US it falls between Yahoo and AOL  in terms of traffic.

It’s a tremendous asset, driving, according to Visse, almost 50 percent of Bing’s search query volume. It offers a way for Microsoft to expose Bing over time and get people comfortable with the brand and with trying it. To that end, Visse told me that Microsoft was going to launch a major online ad campaign for MSN (which is also indirectly a campaign for Bing) in the next few months.

Among the many things I discussed with Visse was the degree to which search queries coming from MSN were influenced by display ads on the portal and/or the content on the MSN pages from which the searches were launched. He didn’t have any specific numbers to share with me but said that there was a definite correlation and influence that they observed.

He said, humorously, that there’s often a Bing tile ad on the MSN homepage and that you see the query “Bing” in the Bing search box. But he quickly added that these were probably navigational queries — consumers trying to get to Bing.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Microsoft: Bing | Microsoft: Bing Maps & Local | Microsoft: Other | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • MelindaCorley

    It is interesting to see how Bing will change the SEO landscape over the next year or so. Even with their small market share, they’re growing fairly rapidly, despite the fact that they have a huge juggernaut like Google looming over them. These MSN changes will definitely help, since the MSN portal is the primary access point of the web for quite a few people.

    I’ve personally seen people use Bing through the MSN portal, even though they claim that they’re Google supporters. It’s just one less click to search straight from the portal. If nothing else, that’ll take a few bites out of Google’s market share. If MSN can build up their numbers of people using the portal by making more upgrades, they may just have a future.

  • http://IncreaseVisibility.com dbrennan

    The local needs some work. I set my location but was still getting non local related news headlines and stories from a few weeks ago taking 2 of the top positions.

    When I searched for a what I thought was a local business search, I was taken to the old interface, I’m guessing they are still sewing the pieces together…but to the same old I find, not so relevant search results…

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