Microsoft Updates Live Search

A group of journalists, bloggers, and advertisers spent the day Wednesday at Microsoft's Mountain View offices for a view of several improvements to Live Search. We'll have more coverage of the "Searchification" event itself later today, but I wanted to briefly mention some of the improvements to Live Search that have been made both to its core search technology and in the vertical search areas of entertainment, shopping, local and health. Most of the changes were made to improve the relevance of Live Search results.

"We have made dramatic progress in delivering a better search experience to our customers," said Satya Nadella, corporate VP of the Search and Advertising Platform Group at Microsoft. "We know what kinds of things consumers are searching for, and we have invested in those key high-interest verticals, including entertainment, shopping, health and local search. With the core platform in place we intend to win customers and earn their loyalty one query at a time."

To improve the quality of its results, Microsoft has increased the size of its index fourfold, aiming to serve better results for long-tail queries, which it says account for one in five searches. Microsoft also claims that Live Search now better understands customer intent, and offer more relevant query refinements and query suggestions, to help users get to answers more quickly.

Live Search now uses more clickstream data in its algorithms, in order to return more relevant answers. It is also making use of data extraction to gather information around a topic from unstructured data from multiple sources, like ratings and reviews of products, data and reviews of businesses, and celebrity gossip, photos, and video clips.

An interesting move by Microsoft is the expansion of its Instant Answers product. Because "sometimes people are just looking for a specific fact or answer," Instant Answers provide responses to certain queries that have a clear answer. Examples include weather, stocks, Yellow Pages data, recent sports scores, or facts from Encarta.

We'll have more coverage from the Searchification event later today. You can also check out some responses from other attendees:

About the author

Kevin Newcomb joined ClickZ in August 2004, covering search marketing and other online marketing topics. He has been reporting on web-based businesses since 2000.

Before the bubble burst, Kevin was a marketing manager for an online computer reseller, handling copywriting, e-mail marketing, search marketing and running the affiliate program.

With a combination of real-world marketing experience and years of business journalism, Kevin brings to ClickZ a unique ability to deliver news and training materials that help online marketers do their jobs better.