Aug 5, 2007

Is Live Search Really Gaining Search Share?

Recently – I came across a post on the Compete blog – regarding changes Search Share gains for Live Search at the expense of Google. According to the data provided by Compete, increased their query volume by 67% from May, and 48% from a year ago.

Search volume was up all across board in June, with the 3 main search engines gaining or holding share. However a large portion of the incremental Live Search Queries are coming from the Live Search Club, where the lure of great prizes is clearly encouraging users to play games for points.
All of the games involve using Live Search – and naturally, this has lead to a significant increase in Live Search Query Volume. This sounds like great news for Live Search and for Microsoft – however, there’s been some speculation that “Bots” helped boost Live Search gains.

Apparently a portion of Live Search Query gains can be attributed to bots, though the exact percentage isn't clear. Some Live Search Club users have asserted that automated searches account for a significant portion of Microsoft's search share gain. You can’t argue with the value proposition of the prizes – which include Microsoft including Microsoft Xboxes, Zunes and even Windows Vista. Interestingly, Internet Opportunists, not content to game the system, are now selling Live Search Club accounts on ebay. There's even an instructional video on YouTube to teach would-be scammers how to beat the system. So, now I’m really curious about Bots – and decided to do a little research of my own.

A Bot is derived from the word robot and is commonly used to describe a program on the internet. It is so named because it interacts with people as though it were a real person. Generally used by web crawlers and spiders on the web. These web robots interface with web pages to gather information. Internet bots, also known as web robots, WWW robots or simply bots, are software applications that run automated tasks over the internet. Typically, bots perform tasks that are both simple and structurally repetitive, at a much higher rate than would be possible for a human editor alone. The largest use of bots is in web spidering, in which an automated script fetches, analyses and files information from web servers at many times the speed of a human. Each server can have a file called robots.txt, containing rules for the spidering of that server that the bot is supposed to obey. In addition to their uses outlined above, bots may also be implemented where a response speed faster than that of humans is required (eg gaming bots and auction-site robots) or less commonly in situations where the emulation of human activity is required, for example chat bots.
Search engines use Bots to spider websites with and online games such as Quake use Bots as artificial opponents. Bots do not need to eat, drink or sleep and will relentlessly do their masters bidding until told to stop. The Live Search Club is a brilliant promotional & marketing campaign for Microsoft -becuase it leverages the use of key Microsoft Assets, Products & Services - to promote a Search Engine which is clearly already growing in popularity. Now if only they can get rid of all those pesky bots....................

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