Dear Microsoft (cc: black hatters),

If you don't fix this problem, I promise to make a sport out of getting people I don't like delisted from your index.  It's just plain irresponsible.  And the problem is compounded in scope by another defect in your product — the failure to handle redirects properly.  This one is quite embarrassing, as any site that has a successful affiliate program may be subject to an undeserved penalty.  It's not just an edge case, and it's not a sophisticated process to follow redirects, either.

In short, simply by sending a bunch of links to existing URLs with useless contrived parameters, one can have a penalty slapped a web site in MSN Search.  I suppose that it creates so much duplicate content that MSN Search perceives the said site as spam.  The URLs need not even be internally linked by the "offending" web site.

Barry blogged about it here, but I knew about it earlier.  One of my clients, YouNeverCall, has a web site with such an affiliate program.  Like many affiliate programs, he uses a parameter called "offerid" to track an affiliate, but any parameter name would do.  Responsibly, the programmer of the the site in question, AmericanCell.com, sets a cookie and redirects to the same page without the parameter.  Unfortunately, this is useless as aforementioned, because Microsoft does not follow 301s.   Here's a screenshot of the beautiful SERPs:

 

… and a URL

Wow, that was easy.  Now his home page isn't even indexed — great.  Can anyone else think of something that can be done on purpose to effect a similar result?  Yes, that's right!  With a bunch of mediocre links from a few web sites, we can knock web sites out of the index.  I have a counters web site that would do the trick.

I also may have a solution to mitigate this problem; I'll post that tomorrow.

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