Microsoft Endorses Link Exchanges -- Or Do They?

Nov 21, 2008 • 9:44 am | comments (7) by twitter | Filed Under Bing Search

On the Microsoft Office Live Small Business Blog (and even in a second post), Senior Product Manager Skip Chilcott writes that link exchanges are a "popular way to generate more links." Blogger Saad Kamal has a problem with this. Citing several guidelines from Google, Yahoo, and even Microsoft itself, it's apparent that link exchanges to artificially inflate rankings is frowned upon.

But Saad Kamal goes further to say it's black hat SEO. Really? The idea that it's "black hat" might be a stretch; link exchanges themselves are sketchy. Most would consider black hat SEO to be a lot worse than a simple link exchange that thousands of webmasters do daily. I'm sure they'd argue that black hat SEO is a practice that only a fraction of webmasters even knows about and thus employs.

But while being equated with black hat endorsements, Danny Sullivan considers this "embarrassing" because the Microsoft Office Live team doesn't seem to be on the same page as the Microsoft Search team. I guess it's hard when Microsoft's initial project and core goal isn't search whereas a company like Google or Yahoo emerged out of their search services. In the latter case, the idea of search appears to preside over the entire company.

Forum discussion continues at Sphinn.

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11/21/2008 03:33 pm

Who cares what MSN say or think? The amount of traffic that a site gains from their search engine in comparison to Google is minimal. Excessive link exchanging can seriously damage your traffic - don't do it!

Saad Kamal

11/21/2008 04:17 pm

Well I guess when a big company gives out a "tip" its likely to be followed by many as people tend to 'trust' that information. Link exchange is certainly not bad as long as its done 'right' but if they don't let the community know what's right and whats wrong and plainly recommends link exchange schemes and use of automated linking softwares I think its 'blackhat'. But of course that's only my opinion...whats 'black' and whats 'white' is always debatable. But generally black = bad and this kind of advice coming from Microsoft is really "bad"..

Michael Martinez

11/21/2008 05:36 pm

Skip wrote a followup post acknowledging the controversy and promising some best practices linking tips from a colleague at Live Search.

Lenin Nair

11/22/2008 10:52 am

This particular opinion was first raised by Labnol: On 18th. I don' t know who Saad is or how come he have the same opinion. I guess you should check and see if the opinion is original before endorsing it. Lenin

No Name

11/24/2008 09:54 am

I was going to write a bit about this to explain it a little further, but here's my summary - building links is actually black hat by technical terms because your tampering with search engines ability to rank you. Anything that does that is technically gaming the system, but thats in loose thinking more logically we would know not to consider it that but some still hold this impression. It's best to let things build naturally - but that doesn't hold true because the best content isn't always the one to get credit.


11/24/2008 07:36 pm

So, the conclusion here is that link recips are bad ?

Tamar Weinberg

11/28/2008 02:16 am

Lenin, in case you were wondering how we operate here at Search Engine Roundtable, we follow the FORUM DISCUSSION (see our About page). Saad's post made it to Sphinn where a lengthy discussion commenced and consequently it was picked up by Search Engine Roundtable. I know Amit reads SERoundtable and never complained that we didn't give him the credit.

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