TITLE: Banned By MSN, And Back Again.
SUMMARY: How my site got banned by MSN, and how I got back in.
AUTHOR: T. O' Donnell
ARTICLE BODY follows:
Early January 2007 I did a routine check on my site in MSN. To my surprise and horror I found only a few odd pages listed. Over the next few days these disappeared also. The command 'site:www.mydomain.com' returned no pages.
"Not again!", I thought. My site had also been banned by Google
in 2005. "Mercy!"
I hit the webmaster forums. Sure enough, there were threads like 'Help, my site is no longer in MSN!' and 'Am I banned?' (Answer, yes).
Various causes were put forward. The root was that MSN Live was being developed to coincide with the release of Windows Vista. A change in the MSN algorithm and 'poof!', your site disappears from the index. MSN had been noted as being easy to spam. Now it was fighting back.
One of the tiresome things about these algorithm changes is wading through the acres of griping, whining and special pleading by webmasters to find clues as to what the cause is, and what can be done. After some research, here's what I found, and what I did. Note, it may not help you at all. Read on to find out why.
Reported causes of problems with MSN:
Too-high keyword density;
- Sharing an IP number with a banned site;
- 301 redirects;
- MSN now aggressively going after spam;
- Reciprocal link exchanges are bad;
- If you delete your links _to_ the exchange, but your partners links _to you_ remain, you're still scr*wed;
- If your site looks low quality when reviewed by a human, you'll stay out;
- Spammed bogus pages by a competitor.
And a solution: http://www.webmasterworld.com/apache/3174971.htm
The 'official' way to get back in MSN:
Go to http://www.msn.com and type:
in the search box. If no results returned ...
They reply by asking you to read this:
The nub of which is to send a (succinct) re-inclusion request to
webspam @ microsoft.com
You should whitelist 'microsoft.com' if you're using SpamAssassin on your emails, as their emails sometimes trip spam filters.
- Joined MSN Adcenter
- Suggested my site to MSN http://beta.search.msn.com/docs/submit.aspx
- Banned MSNbot for a few weeks, using robots.txt
These tactics didn't work. Here's what did:
I saw a post somewhere about contacting 'MSNDude' at webmasterworld.com
forums. Did so. He kindly sorted it out. That worked, sort of. The MSNbot
came back and started spidering a lot more pages. Got about twenty-eight
pages re-indexed, then they dropped out again. I was left with one odd
page in the index. That page was full of English place-names. So I wasn't
totally banned, unlike before.
Inference: unless you make changes to your site, a hand-reinclusion
won't help. You'll only trip the filter again. In my case the
problem was over-optimisation, I believe. I dialled it down, and
got back in.
MSNDude is not now contactable because his WebmasterWorld inbox is full;
I wonder why?
So how to make such changes without losing your rankings in Google or
Suggestion: Ban the MSN bot using robots.txt, then set up a
mirror site just for MSN, and another for Yahoo while you're at it.
Wait at least one month, then let the bot back in. Because my own site
was unbanned by hand, I can't guarantee this will work.
Set up what I call 'transparent cloaking': All visitors from Google, Yahoo or MSN get separate versions of your site. 'All visitors' means bots _and_ humans; then not even your competitors can complain about it. The bots and the humans get the same pages.
The idea is, the MSNBot comes to your page. Using Apache mod_rewrite,
you deliver '/msn/keypage.html' for 'keypage.html'. The bot sees 'www.yourdomain.com/keypage.html'.
The site is indexed. Later, human visitors arrive from MSN, by clicking
on a result there. Your .htaccess mod_rewrite rule checks the referer
and serves up the same page the bot got.
No one is deceived, and you can make changes to one version of your site, without affecting your rankings for that page in the other engines. Saves having to set up three different sites.
How to make different versions of your site, on the same server?
Copy your main pages into subdirectory /msn/. Get a freelance programmer to make a Perl script which rips through this, using Regular Expressions, to tone down the optimisation e.g. substituting H2 for H1, removing ALT tags, etc.
To be absolutely safe, make it so all versions
of your site look almost exactly the same. You can change the optimisation,
without radically changing the look.
This is not technically easy, but I think it might be the future of search
engine webmastering. I'd say you can't rank highly for the same terms,
for the same content, in the Big Three, unless you have a lot of
really good, high quality backlinks. Making separate sites is a chore.
This is a simpler alternative.
About the author: T. O' Donnell http://www.tigertom.com/blog/
is an ecommerce consultant in London, UK. This article may not be reproduced
in any way without the prior written permission of the author.