The MSN PageRank 2 Controversy & Search Engines Needing To Offer Domain Management Tools

As part of the current
Google update
underway
, it’s been noticed that MSN now has a PageRank score of 2. What’s
the deal, Google — decide to pull a little love away from MSN? Not so, says
Google’s Matt Cutts — they’re actually a PR8. Then why do you see a PR2 score
when you go to MSN? Let’s break it down, as well as revisit the oft-desired need
for search engines to allow site owners to tell them directly which domains
should be treated as the same.

  • Visit MSN at http://www.msn.com with the
    Google Toolbar installed, and you’ll see a PR2 score reported.
     

  • MSN.com down to pagerank 2!
    at WebmasterWorld has some of the discussion
    this sparked, where the anonymous GoogleGuy from Google puts the blame on
    redirection that MSN is doing. Look at http://msn.com,
    and you’ll see a PR8 score is reported, we’re told.
     
  • OK, but if you try that, you get redirected to
    http://www.msn.com, where it’s still PR2.
     
  • Answer? You need to get the Google PageRank score for msn.com in another
    way than trying to reach that page, since the redirection will send you to
    what’s technically a different page, the home page of
    www.msn.com
     
  • How? Google’s Matt Cutts, posting over Threadwatch and sounding pretty in
    sync with GoogleGuy,
    explains that
    msn.com is a PR8 site and points to the
    Future PageRank
    checker at SEO Tools as a way to see this.

    (At this point, you’re asking "Isn’t Matt Cutts GoogleGuy?" For the record,
    Matt’s never publicly laid claim to being GoogleGuy. But since Matt’s more
    active on commenting with things these days, I think it’s well time that
    GoogleGuy step forward with a real name, so that if they are one and the same,
    there’s isn’t confusion that two different people are talking.

    Honestly, at some point we’ll have someone citing GoogleGuy, then someone
    citing Matt against GoogleGuy, which is absurd if they are the same. I and
    many others do know the real identity of GoogleGuy. I think it’s well time
    everyone knows and hope GoogleGuy will step forward).
     


  • Run
    a test for msn.com using the checker, and you’ll get a list of the
    PageRank scores reported by various Google datacenters, including the server
    that feeds the toolbar display. All of them are PR8.
     
  • Again, you can’t see these scores showing up in your browser when trying
    to go to msn.com, because you get redirected to
    www.msn.com
    , which has a different PR score.

All this brings us back to the issue of redirection. MSN is doing a
302 temporary
redirect
from msn.com to www.msn.com, which
can confuse search engines into knowing if they should be treated at the same
site. A 301 permanent redirect would be preferred.

But more preferred than that, life would be a lot easier if site owners could
simply register all the various domains that may resolve to their "main" domain
with Google and other search engines, rather than them having to guess.

People have been wanting this for ages. C’mon Google and Yahoo! You’ve both
made moves to let us submit sitemaps and URLs to be crawled. Let’s get with it
so we can register domains with you and how they should be treated through some
type of program. It so long overdue. That’s especially so given that after the
last indexing summit, as I’ve
written, the
search engines were unable to unify on any common treatment of dealing with
redirects.

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