Landing pages can be a critical part of user experience. MSN.com is ranked number 17 globally by Alexa. Pushing a revamped, sleek news service to the front of its portal means Microsoft could eat away at people who use Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) as a comprehensive portal. Yahoo’s turn-around story is still in progress, but redesigning the homepage has been identified as one of the key areas to work on. Yahoo’s portal is ranked number 4 globally by Alexa, but if it doesn’t keep pace, it can lose users.
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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) also has a competing landing portal, ranked at number 2 by Alexa. Google News, like Yahoo’s news offering, is largely an aggregating service like the new MSN will be. Microsoft does plan to produce some original content, but has not yet said how big its news team will be.
With much of the news coming from the same Rolodex — Reuters, the Associated Press, NBC — experience gets pushed to the top of a user’s priority list. A superior news offering could turn into a reason for people to use the MSN portal. A more popular portal could also translate into more use for Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, which hasn’t gotten a lot of love recently.