Google Blogoscoped

Saturday, September 24, 2005

MSNBetter ThanGoogle

Tadeusz Szewczyk of is a freelance search engine optimizer, blogger and journalist born in Poland. He’s been living in Germany for two decades now. Tadeusz writes about art, design, and SEO.

MSNBetter ThanGoogle? No, it’s not a mistake. Well, I doubt that the statement is true, but whether MSN is better than Google is not really the point. “MSNBetter ThanGoogle” is a phrase that, obviously, can only stem from SEO circles. Indeed this is the key phrase a polish SEO contest wants its contestants to optimize for. The MSNBetter ThanGoogle contest even exceeds the by now infamousHommingberger Gepardeforelle” SEO contest running in the nearby German speaking area of Europe. We get over 4 millions results for MSNBetter ThanGoogle whereas the non existing Hommingberger Gepardeforelle has “only” a little more than 3.6 Million. For the winning parties, there are some small presents donated by the sponsors: an MP3 player, an SEO book, a cup, and the honorary title “Polish master of positioning internet websites 2005.”

Although Poland is the largest country of so called “new Europe”, with its 40 Million inhabitants the Internet and thus also the search engine market don’t seem as interesting for international companies as the bigger German one. Only a short time ago, Google entered the Polish market and gained a leading position with 70% of the market share, similar to elsewhere. Nonetheless the two strongest Polish search companies (not engines) and still have 14% and 11%. Yahoo and MSN are both below 2%. Then there’s competitor Netsprint, a new search service which concentrates on the polish market and doesn’t use other search engines results like Onet and Wp do.

In contrast, SEO is big in Poland. There are lots of seemingly professional SEO companies along with well-designed websites.

That in mind, it is perhaps no wonder that this SEO contest is a little provocative. Yes, the phrase is chosen on purpose. Why? In contrast to the “Gepardenforelle”, which was initiated by the renowned German Heise which runs at least three of the most reputable German news sources online, the Polish contest is an idea of the country’s most ardent SEO lovers. They call themselves “Friends of Positioning and Optimisation”, the two main synonyms for SEO in polish. The biggest polish SEO forum, the main supporter of the contest, thrives like any English competitor with literally thousands of posts.

Alas, it seems the friends of SEO are not really friends with Google. Roughly translated they say: “The message [of the SEO contest] is directed at the Google team. We presume that the emergence of this key phrase in the search results will not remain unnoticed. It is our intention that the critical and provocative message of our slogan attracts Google’s interest in the Polish internet market.”

And they go on, accusing Google of favoring AdSense customers over other webmasters. (This accusation is rather blurry, and I don’t really know whether it means that AdSense competes with SEO, or that AdSense customers are privileged in comparison with others that don’t use Google ads.)

One aspect of the contest is a little fishy, though; if you take part you must link to the organisers. At my SEO work I always avoid such obligatory linking schemes. Many of those are part of link farms – “bad neighborhoods”, in Google slang. These are the schemes which will discredit you in the ranking mechanisms.

Well, Polish history is full of rebellions and reasonable fights against tyrants and aggressors, but in this case I am not sure. Maybe they should have written Matt an email first? Whether or not Google notices, the contest will end in a few days, on October 1st. The winner is already certain it seems – – holding the top position for a while now. But to answer whether MSN is better than Google, we don’t need the contest, as the answer is simple: MSN is easier to trick because link popularity doesn’t count that much. Nice for black hat SEO, but bad for the users.


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