A Search Engine Watch thread reveals that Microsoft is banning sites for participating in spammy link exchanges at MSN and Live.com. This type of reciprocal linking is usually conducted with the attempt to artificially inflate the link popularity of a site and as such, assist in improving its rankings in the organic search results.
While this is not the first time a search engine has taken action against link exchange schemes, it is the first that I have seen where the engine clearly explains why the site was banned.
Microsoft’s direct response to the banned site:
Your site is acquiring links through posting to or exchanging links with sites unrelated to your site content. Techniques which attempt to acquire unrelated spam links in order to increase ranking are considered spam and your site has been excluded from our index as results. Please contact us once you’ve removed these links and we will reevaluate.
I have seen Yahoo do the same although they will not necessarily tell a site owner the direct reason why they were banned. Rather they provide a generic explanation stating that their guidelines have been compromised leaving the site owner the chore of trying to figure out what they did to get banned in the first place (although most of the time they already know).
Google on the other hand does not necessarily ban a site (unless the abuse is extreme) but instead simply discounts those links so they are worthless in adding to the site’s link popularity.
I commend Microsoft for not only taking steps to combat this type of web spam but for being very specific as to why the site was banned. This type of response will allow site owners who do get caught at breaking the rules the opportunity to remedy the situation.