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Microsoft Teaches Black Hat SEO

Microsoft Supports Link ExchangeToday I was pretty amazed to read an article by the Sr. Product Manager of Microsoft, Skip Chilcott who openly endorsed that webmasters should participate in Link Exchange as it helps to boost the rankings in search engines.

That totally contradicts with what I wrote in my complete Linkbuilding tutorial and most importantly it contradicts with Google’s Webmaster Guideline as well as Microsoft’s very own guideline.

This is what Google has to say about participating in Link schemes:

…some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results.

This is what Microsoft’s guideline says (Important part in Bold):

..Techniques that might prevent your website from appearing in Live Search results
The following techniques aren’t appropriate uses of the Live Search index. Use of these techniques might affect how your website is ranked within Live Search, and might cause your website to be removed from the index….. – Using techniques, such as link farms, to artificially increase the number of links to your webpage.

Yahoo also takes a similar stance about Link exchange

What Yahoo! Considers Unwanted: … Sites cross-linked excessively with other sites to inflate a site’s apparent popularity (link schemes)….

Now I wonder why would Skip Chilcott of Microsoft would publicly recommend participating in Link exchange scheme (a semi black-hat technique) and also endorse certain software/firms for that purpose.

Why Do I strongly discourage Link Exchange Schemes

Search Engine has become competitive and more useful for people (like us). We heavily depend on search engine to find useful & relevant information everyday. The reason we find ‘search engines’ useful is because – It allows us to find what we are looking for in a quick time. But as more and more people starts to ‘game’ the search engine, there will be more ‘spam’ and ‘low quality results’ in the respected engines. One way of stopping that spam is to, making sure that the Search algorithm doesn’t take ‘certain’ attributes into consideration that can be artificially manipulation (E.g. low quality links). Google (The primary engine that I personally uses) has taken several measures in past and has discounted those ‘bad links’ from counting. They have discouraged and taken necessary action to prevent webmasters from gaming the search ranking using those ‘shady SEO techniques’.

Even though I may not 100% agree to what Google does (they do have some strict ruling about a lot of things), I do agree that Reciprocal Linking or participating in automated link exchange program does not benefit the user at all and it just benefits the webmaster to game the whole system! And if search engines are gamed, then it will lose it’s usefulness.

And when such ‘shady advice’ comes directly from the Sr. Product manager of Microsoft, it just makes everything clear to me that why Live Search has been so far away in producing anything but good results!

Update: Skip Chilcott has created another post, identifying the mistake he made in his first post. This time He has asked a colleague over at Live Search to share some expert advice on linking best practices. [ I'm really looking forward to that post ]

What Kind of Link Exchange Are Possible White Hat?

  • Links that helps the user to find more useful information on that particular subject.
  • Links that are not promoting or giving Link juice to a site that is spammy in nature
  • Links exchange that are primarily meant for Traffic and not for “search engine ranking”
  • Links that you would want to recommend to the search engine because of their quality and value to you and your users

Natural Link building techniques that many Search Experts recommend:

8 Ways to Buy Links Without “Buying Links”, Rand Fishkin – SEOmoz.org

Should I Avoid Link Exchange / Link Trading Hubs?, Aaron Wall – SEObook.com

The definitive link building strategy, Web Credible

101 Link Building Tips to Market Your Website, Aaron Wall – SEOBook.com

Link Building Tutorial – A Complete Walkthrough, Saad Kamal

Five Link Building Strategies That Work, Brian Clark – Copyblogger


15 Comments

  • Reply Kneoteric eSolutions |

    Regardless of what anyone says, link building still is an important aspect of link building and feeds into search engine algorithms in a big way.

    I read the post you are referring to in your blog ["Say I have a veterinary practice and you run a pet store. I ask you to put a link to my vet business site on your pet store site and, in exchange, offer to put a link to your pet store site on my vet business site. This works well because we have complementary, noncompetitive businesses that target the same audience: pet owners."] and I believe that such link exchanges are perfectly alright.

    It gives more value to my website users and I don’t believe search engine crawlers should have a problem with it.

    The second part with talks about various tools and link exchange programs is debatable.

  • Reply Kneoteric eSolutions |

    Some good stuff under ‘Natural link building’ however quite cheeky of you to have included your post.

    Sorry for the extended post, I should have included it in my previous comment.

  • Reply Saad |

    @Kneoteric eSolutions – Thanks for your comment. Well If you read the full article from the source you would see that he is encouraging people to do the following — >>

    - Join an automated link-exchange program

    - Pay someone else to create your links

    And thats pure Black Hat SEO :) The article’s intended audience is Small Business owners who doesn’t have any idea about SEO. So when someone is writing a sort of 101 article it should contain only the ‘best practices’ rather then shady techniques that can have a bad result if done inappropriately or excessively.

    And about listing my article at the bottom of the post — I have added the top most articles in the link building arena (that I could find)… If I have missed yours…or any other just shoot me an email and I’d love to include it :)

    My objective is to give value to the user and this model works really well for my blog.

  • Reply Kneoteric eSolutions |

    My comment “Some good stuff under ‘Natural link building’ however quite cheeky of you to have included your post.” was just meant to be a teaser ;)

    “The second part with talks about various tools and link exchange programs is debatable.” I was not advocating link exchange programs. I was trying to imply that link exchange, if beneficial to your users, should be be done. It certainly does not mean that you do what is mentioned in referenced post.

    I am sure there are other ways of doing it.

  • Reply Ryan @ Linkbuildr |

    I’m quite shocked to hear this information being spewed from someone with such authority. I wonder if your post will help Microsoft realize that they’ve made a mistake in issuing this advice….or perhaps they were talking about it to influence live.com results?

  • Reply Cash Volume |

    Interesting topic absolute link bait material, but hardly black hat seo… you must keep in mind Google is not the only search engine on the block. Other search engines are allowed to come up with their own standards. I’m actually quite impressed that Microsoft embraces link exchanges instead of following suite with google and becoming link fascists.

  • Reply VandM |

    Thanks for the information. Our intern is working on building links and the last thing that I would want her to do is create bad links, hurting us in the long run.

  • Reply SEOP.com |

    Well, there are really some aspects that Google and Microsoft do search. This is one of them.

So, what do you think ?