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More problems for MSN Live!

Posted in: Google,Search Engine Optimisation,Search Engines,Security by Richard Hearne on November 21, 2006
Internet Marketing Ireland

If I told you that removing a page from MSN Live! was so simple that it was within the abilities of 99% of all Internet users, what would you think?

Microsoft Live! has a notoriously poor reputation. People think their search results pretty much suck (try finding a SERP without a blogspot entry), and their algorithm is easy enough to game. But for me, the strangest thing is the extreme measures Live! takes in order to ‘fix’ problems. Here’s a good example.

Just take ‘em out

A recent discussion on Search Engine Watch brought a new Microsoft Live! policy to the attention of webmasters. An email received by a poster from the Live! spam team contained the following:

Your site is acquiring links through posting to or exchanging links with sites unrelated to your site content. Techniques which attempt to acquire unrelated spam links in order to increase ranking are considered spam and your site has been excluded from our index as results.

Now, to be honest, I’m in agreement with Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal and applaud this measure. In theory it’s a proactive step by Microsoft Lives! to clean up their SERPs.

What worries me is the practical side of things. I just wonder if we are going to see collateral damage from this move.

Now before I go any further, I will hold my hand up and say that I don’t normally give a toot about MSN (or Live! as it’s now known). Yes, I still believe that Google executes somewhere between 80 and 90% of all Irish searches. But I do know that certain groups still regularly find their way onto Live! pages (picture all those office workers typing search queries into the address bar of IE :mrgreen:).

Ulterior motives?

Of course the Live! bans may be a defence against the MFA sites which Google is actively banning from their index. In what some believe to be a very cynical move, Google has been banning MFA sites but not disabling their Adsense accounts.

So while Google would prefer not to have their index polluted with MFA sites, they are quite happy to make money from these parasites polluting the indices of their competitors.

So I wonder if perhaps some of the new tactics over at Live! are more of a defensive measure to counteract the competitive postures of it’s biggest competitor?

But what about the gaping hoe in Live!s algorithm?

Well a very recently discovered bug in the way Live! handles duplicate content has opened up a real can of worms. It appears to be rather easy to remove pages from the Live! index simply by linking to the target page in a particular way. This came about because whereas Google just ignores the duplicate, Live! bans both the original and the duplicate (another example of extremes).

I wont link to the above tactic as I don’t feel that would be helpful at all (and it’s apparently so easy to abuse that I think it’s immoral to publish).

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