Can MSN Search Best Google?

    November 1, 2005

Competition in the search engine world is fierce and none more fierce than the big three. Google rules the roost by far. There’s no question. MSN runs a distant third. One question floating around is what could MSN do to catch up or perhaps beat Google?

Many are thinking without going any further, it could never happen. You may be right. Google established themselves as THE search engine. But others are competitive and are looking for ways to improve. One thread of discussion over MSN’s Channel 9 is what can MSN do to improve their own search engine to compete more with Google.

As La Bomba, the person starting the thread, pointed out, the simple answer is to make the search engine better. But then mentioned something else, clutter. Both MSN and Yahoo have search screens loaded with content and are essentially directory portals. Many people like a less distracting, minimalist approach and those to portals are anything but minimalist.

He quoted another poster, Beer28 as saying:

The way to defeat google is simple. Make a cleaner, more strait forward search engine than theirs, and put links to it on all your other sites, like say a social networking site, and maybe oh, who knows, an online document database site with pdf and other doc server side conversions.

Google won because theirs is clean. People don’t like clutter on the screen. is clutter. The human mind can only focus on so much at once. People go to google because they know they’ll get accurate search results that they can read without being distracted by excessive colors and unrelated texts. It’s as simple as that.

As others point out though, Google could start integrating some other features into their page without being cluttered. Poster Michael Griffiths said, “You are not going to beat Google at its own game. Simply eliminating everything from the page except the search box was a fantastic idea… when Google first did it. Now, however, it’s time to explore adding some functionality. It’s possible to add features in such a way that they don’t add up to “overwhelming clutter.” is not an example of this.”

Of course this could be a mostly moot discussion, depending on the outcome of the negotiations with Time Warner over AOL. AOL provides significant numbers in both revenues and searches and if Microsoft were able to pull that out from under Google, then the odd would be much closer to even.

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