MSN Showing Less Organic Listings

Until recently I’ve not followed MSN Search very closely. For that matter, I take the general philosophy that one should spend the bulk of their time focusing on their own site, rather than the engines… but that’s another post. Anyhow, I was doing a product search and noticed something quite interesting. I then went to confirm this with another non-commercial search (which had no paid ads listed) and the phenomenon did not repeat. I then tried a search for “search engine optimization” and voila, back again. Unless I’ve been under a rock this is something fairly new:

MSN appears to no longer be displaying 10 results per page for searches that have ads bidding on those search phrases. Rather, they show roughly 10 results for the first couple of pages, and then scale back on the number of organic listings. Why? My guess is b/c they wish to increase the ratio of paid ads to organic ads on those pages without significantly messing with the bulk of the traffic (first couple SERPs aka results pages).

Here’s some data I found on my search for search engine optimization:

SERPS Page # of Organic Listings
1 10
2 10
3 9
4 8
5 6
6 10
7 9
8 5
9 8
10 10
11 6
12 9
13 7
14 9
15 5
16 8
17 6
18 5
19 5
20 7

After 20 pages I got tired of looking :) There doesn’t even seem to be a real set logic to the pattern – at least not in the first 20 pages or so. I’d imagine it eventually fits some sort of pattern or levels out… Anyone else notice this before? I realize I still have comments closed – but feel free to email me if you like. Eventually I’ll get a decent comment spam filter installed!