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Microsoft rigs Live Search traffic

The power of Dingbats

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Microsoft has successfully rigged its search traffic. The company recently introduced several online games than shamelessly bribe people to query its moribund Live Search Engine, and according to web research firm comScore, these games gave the engine a significant traffic boost last month.

In June, comScore says, Microsoft's share of the search market went up almost three points. That's a huge spike when you're struggling to maintain a 10 per cent share, and comScore claims the improvement was "due in large part to Live Search Club," the collection of online games Microsoft unveiled in May.

When users play games like Chicktionary, Dingbats, and Seekadoo, they automatically generate Live Search results. The more results they generate, the more points they win. And if they win enough points, they win prizes. Like a Microsoft Zune player. OK, it's not much of a bribe. But it's still a bribe.

And it's working. In the ever-important search market, Microsoft took a percentage point away from Google and a percentage point away from Yahoo!. According to comScore's latest study, Google controls 45.5 per cent of the market, Yahoo! 25.1, and Microsoft 13.2.

Hacker types have developed bots that can rack up points on Live Search Club - and search results - on their own, but comScore claims such cheating doesn't play into its studies. Microsoft confirms what comScore is seeing. "We attribute much of the spike to our ongoing marketing efforts around the Live Search Club," a spokesperson told The Register. "Games like Chicktionary are driving significant traffic to the site."

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