MSNBC.com touts status in search box, still comes up short in results

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MSNBC.com has added the text “Search America’s #1 News Site” to the site’s main search box. The box also grew in size recently.

This is a clever way to both label a search box and get some bragging in.

MSNBC.com also seems to have revamped the search results pages themselves, though there is still some to be desired. While the pages now match the redesign’s look and feel, the page layout is a bit scattered and, based on a few of our tests searching for recent stories, the search itself isn’t very accurate.

The lack of good search has always been a weakness of MSNBC.com as well as other online news sites. MSNBC.com’s search  is now prominently labeled as “Powered by Live Search,” Microsoft’s search engine.

CNN.com’s search is a bit better (possibility because it uses Google as a backend) but still failed to turn up some recent news stories in our tests.

With news sites changing so frequently, a good search tool is very important so users can easily locate a headline they saw earlier. News sites should starting taking a closer look at search, including making sure keywords found in headlines that users may remember are spidered correctly.

In addition, I’m waiting for mainstream news sites to start grasping Web 2.0 featuers such as tagging better. CNN.com does this to some extent with its “Topics” feature but the feature could definitely be beefed up with more extensive labeling and perhaps user contributed tags.

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