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All Windows Are Local: Microsoft Adds to MSN Search

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MSN took a local leap in their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts yesterday with the launch of the local search. The local search focuses on just that, local businesses and websites. When you go the Local (beta) feature, you also get a map with the option of an aerial view. This is a nice feature added to MSN’s optimization efforts gives them a leg up over the competition.

The search is pretty simple. Go to MSN’s website or you could work it from the tool bar as well. Type in a city or town. I chose Versailles, Kentucky. Several items come up but at the search box, choose the “local (beta)” option and search again. This time you get something different.

All  Windows Are Local: Microsoft Adds to MSN Search

First it lists a 10 business or other entities in the sleepy little town outside Lexington, KY. Listings for these businesses include phone numbers with options for directions. The map to the right tags the businesses for you and you can then switch to aerial views for closer examination.

One thing I did notice about the aerial view is that these photos come from the U.S. Geological Survey. I also noticed some of the photos were older and didn’t zoom in as tightly as I’d like. I’d like to see the photos a little more detailed but I’d say that’s coming. You also have the option at the bottom of the list to look at other businesses.

Down below the business listings are web sites for various entities in the local community. The first thing up for Versailles in this little experiment was the Rose Hill Inn. The bed and breakfast offers proximity to Lexington and the historic Keeneland racetrack. Other things that came up included real estate businesses, a link to Sylvania, which owns a factory in Versailles and several other points of interest.

Google’s Local option didn’t offer the same type of feature. The user has to be specific for what they’re looking for. It also has satellite map photos but the photos, at least for this experiment, didn’t zoom in as tightly as the MSN feature. The Google Local also didn’t give local websites. It was strictly business listings and phone number with possible directions. As far as websites for the restaurants, it just gave basically yellow page listings. Nothing dramatic. It provided links for whatever the user searches for but nothing else.

Yahoo was kind of the same way. Sure, I can search for Subway restaurants. It gives me a distance and allows users to rate the Subway but it doesn’t include a map feature on that page. Users must click on a directions link to get the mapping option. One again, links for whatever the user was searching for but nothing else.

Overall, based on my initial scan of these Local products on the Big 3 SEO companies, MSN looks to have the best Local feature. It took some aspects of the other two and then added in their own items to make it a stronger and more interesting Local search. It’s possible the other two will expand. The nicest feature by far was access to websites in the town one is looking through. It lets the user really see just what might be going on in the town one is visiting via the Internet.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

All Windows Are Local: Microsoft Adds to MSN Search
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