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Here is a summary of that interaction (numerous emails)
BillyS: Why don't I rank in the US market for my website's name?
MSN: Ranking is automated, see our guidelines.
BillyS: I understand that, but why do I only have problems in the US?
MSN: Please give us the exact search terms.
BillyS: "mywebsite" on Live.com
MSN: Your website may have trouble ranking in markets other than its local market.
BillyS: But it's a .com and it's hosted in the US with a US IP address. It only has problems in the US market...
MSN: We are forwarding your problem to a specialist.
MSN: I did a search using the link: then your site address. You've got a large number of links and that can affect ranking.
BillyS: You show 2,000 links, but by page 3 you say 152. That doesn't seem like a lot of links for a site that's three years old. MSN has 1.5 million links.
MSN: Ranking is automated, see our guidelines.
And here was the kicker - each email has this: You are a valuable customer to MSN ....
Often the answer, when you see so many sites disappear such as has been the case in MSN is that they are just screwed up.
I seriously doubt there is any method to their madness or grand plan to drop or ban sites. These sites are not banned, they are just victims of the mess that has become MSN/Live search
It's a shame really, MSN was making some nice progress earlier in the year, then around August they rolled back a major update and have been rolling downhill ever since.
[edited by: Shadoze at 7:41 pm (utc) on Dec. 22, 2006]
I said it before and I dare to repeat it again. Microsoft has implementing a very shortsighted solution for addressing their spam problem. If there was anything to gain from removing top ranking sites from MSN they would all have tens of thousand of splog links by now. The reason why MSN's approach appears to work is because the pro spammers don't care much about MSN yet.
I just cleaned out about 20 link exchanges I had with other sites. It was just as well because most had stopped linking back to me anyway. But I must have about 200 outgoing links to a wide variety of sites - to help my visitors.
To suggest that 152 IBL is a lot is just plain garbage. My site has about 1,200 pages - so it's bound to attract links - including scrapers. I've never signed books, or dropped a signature in forums. To suggest this website does not follow their guidelines is rubbish.
Clearly there is something that triggers this penalty, but MSN's got a flaw in this logic.
Discussing Search algo's with anyone representing a search engine is a waste of time. You can pretty much throw out 80% of what they tell you and then take the other 20% and do the opposite and you'll be closer to the truth.
IBL's are not causing your sites to be 'banned' There are literally tons of spam sites in major markets in MSN with tens of thousands of IBL's, all spam, they rank well and continue to rank well.. IBL's are not going to get you banned.
Changing your entire SEO strategy based on what MSN currently is or is not doing makes no sense. Their algo is a complete mess, yes they tried to address the spam issue, but by doing so they created many other issues that they have yet been unable to resolve, and these issues are having effects on all kinds of sites, that should not be affected.
Don't try and form a conclusion on what is happening based on what has happened to your site or a few of your sites. There are folks who are testing thousands of domains with many servers under controlled conditions, and you're not going to find the answer, because right now you will find data that is 180 degrees opposite of what you thought to be true, and then data that contradicts that data.
I will repeat what I said above, not every thing you see happening with search results is by design. In most cases whan an engine takes an action, there are 20 unforseen actions that also occur. You are caught in one of these unforseen actions.
There are literally tons of spam sites in major markets in MSN with tens of thousands of IBL's, all spam, they rank well and continue to rank well.. IBL's are not going to get you banned.
My take is that those spammy sites rank for a while then fall out of favor and get replaced by new ones. "Search defender" is not quick enough to identify spam in real time. To help it do its job they slowed down ranking of new sites/pages and loosened the criteria of "spam signature" to such a degree that wide variety of sites now matches it.
If MSN had actually told me that I was under a penalty and what was causing the penalty I would have considered taking mitigation steps - if it didn't change the site's fundamental design.
But since they weren't able to really help me at all, I'm not changing a thing. My hope is that they will eventually realize there is a problem and they are filtering out high quality sites.
I've done without traffic from MSN for months now; I'm even considering banning their bot (nothing to lose...). The other majors (Google, Y! and Ask) are showing consistent growth and the siteís traffic has increased 300% since January 2006.