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MSN Duplicate listing patent

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Thursday March 1, 2007 )

Bill from Search Engine Land has posted about a newly granted patent to Microsoft relating to minimizing duplicate listings. It has the potential to have rather huge consequences in organic results if the algorithm were applied; especially if you also have PPC (Pay Per Click) ads on the same results page.

Organic search results are the “free” listings which many of us depend on; even when utilizing PPC. According to Bill, the “Systems and methods for removing duplicate search engine results” patent, if applied, has the potential of knocking out an organic search listing if that page is also displayed as a pay per click ad listing. You can imagine this would be making many PPC players a little nervous.

Something that struck me as an even nastier side effect are competitors taking advantage of this scenario. For example, let’s say you’re listed as no.1 in MSN Search’s organic results for a key phrase – what’s to stop a competitor for bidding at spot number 5 on the PPC results relatively cheaply with an ad for your site? If this algorithm were applied, bang, you’re not only out of the first spot but the first page. Sure, you could appeal and point out a competitor did this on purpose, but appeals processes with any large search company are often time consuming and drawn out.

I would have thought that this would be fairly obvious to those people with their high fallutin’ university degrees; and as Bill points out, a patent being granted doesn’t mean it will be applied. Still, it’s a little unsettling and if were to ever occur, I’m sure there would be quite an uproar.

Read the post on Search Engine Land

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