Link building is one of the most important deliverables of any ongoing search engine optimization plan. All three major engines are known to assign some value to a page based on the links pointing to it, and many SEOs research high ranking competitor backlinks to find the ones that they feel may be helping those pages rank well for desired terms. The problem is, even though search engines advise site owners to get relevant links to their pages, they also frown on linking schemes designed to gain links at a rapid pace.
So the "game," for SEOs, is to build links to a page without arousing suspicion on the part of the engines. Unfortunately, there are many so-called SEOs out there that build links with no regards to relevancy or to the link-host's probable reputation, and end up causing their clients or their own websites to fall in the rankings. The easiest ones for search engines to detect include obvious link schemes such as "free-for-all" link directories or buying links from highly visible networks. However, some people claim that some links are built to their content without their permission, bringing to mind the old argument of whether or not one can be penalized by someone else’s actions.
MSN has recently taken the forefront, carrying the standard for the other engines when it comes to banning or penalizing sites for linking practices, and being very specific about the reason in their communications with affected webmasters. This has caused a rush of posts at WebmasterWorld with members complaining of being penalized or banned due to what MSN terms as unacceptable linking practices- and claiming innocence. Is MSN throwing proverbial babies out with the bathwater?
On January 15, one webmaster claimed:
I was banned from MSN very unfairly , i am not into illegitimate affiliate network or link exchanges...A thread started 3 days later purports that:
It seems that if one site on a shared IP gets banned, then ALL SITES GETS BANNED!This was followed by another thread 3 days after that started with the assertion that:
In December, if I read my log files right, MSN changed their way of handling links, the quality of incoming links and if they are natural or not. Sites that have been in an "illegitimate link exchange" were banned from MSN, and if you have more than one site on the same IP and/or own more than one site ALL sites were banned.So is MSN handling this problem a little too heavy-handedly? Share your thoughts, experiences or opinions at any of the three WebmasterWorld forums threads linked above.