Friday, October 19, 2007

Shoemoney vs. John Chow RSS Contest - I Won

I never win anything - ever! Well, today my luck has finally changed. I received an email this afternoon stating that I had won two prizes. After receiving the email, I went to Shoemoney's site to see if he had posted anything yet. Sure enough, I made it into his blog post. Woo-who!!!

News Gator Winner - Terry Smoley
$99.95 - 1 “Sponsored Listing” - From
Site Sift Web Directory
$67 - 1 license of
Backup Platinum - From SoftLogica

Both prizes are very cool! I have settled on which site I'll submit to Site Sift and look forward to the bump I'll receive in organic rankings for having the additional directory listing!

MSN Redemption

It took a great deal of persistence by way of multiple emails, but MSN finally provided a response that satisfactorily explains why many of my sites suddenly fell of the face of the earth.

Thank you for contacting Live Search technical support. We understand that
you are having a problem right now with your site < a) not being indexed in
Live Search or b) not being found in Live Search when looking for it using key

We are aware of this problem, and it is not affecting
your site alone. We discovered an error in the programming that submits
URL's to our search engine and we are in the process of fixing it. In the
next few days you will be to go to the site
and submit your URL again. We will process the site through our anti-spam
and content filters and include the site and rank it appropriately. The
entire process should take about 2 weeks to complete, but may take longer
depending on the number of pages in your domain, the content, how the page was
written, and other factors.

We thank you for your patience while we
resolve this issue, and invite you to contact us again if your site is still not
indexed in our results after 2 weeks. You can check if your site is
indexed by going to, and typing
"site:" into the search bar. You don't need quotes, and
you should replace with the name of your site or URL that you
are checking.

Thanks again for contacting Live Search support.

Thank you MSN! I look forward to the seeing my traffic levels return to normal.

Monday, October 08, 2007

MSN Live's New Algo Should Be Named Site Sniper

MSN Live is anything but subtle when it comes to algorithmic tweaking (a.k.a., site sniping). About two weeks ago I noticed they bumped one of my new sites from their index. I figured it was a short-term "adjustment" and would correct itself. It never did. Early last week they erased one of my large sites - a site that has been indexed for nearly a year and that dominated positions 1 - 5 for several keywords.

After they sniped my large site, I contacted them using their email form. I received an automated response stating:

"Occasionally, a website may disappear from search results as we change our website-ranking algorithms. In some cases, search results may change considerably as we test new algorithms. If the placement of your web site changes you should check back in two weeks. It can take a couple of weeks for changes to stabilize...We may remove a website from the index if the website was reported as spam. If you think your site may have been mistakenly marked as spam, please reply to this message."

Following their advice, I replied to their automated message with a brief email stating, "I think my site(s) were mistakenly marked as spam and removed."

The next day I received a response from Arlene with Live Search Technical Support stating, "I want to let you know that your inquiry is quite isolated and unique. I will be forwarding this case to our product specialists, who will then engage additional resources to further investigate this matter."

Three days later I received a response from James with Microsoft Global Escalations stating, "I have been assigned to help you with your issue, and my records indicate that the issue you are experiencing is with Live Search and indexing of your page...We are aware of this issue and are diligently working to resolve this. Please check back in 48hrs."

Although I initially thought I was the only target, it appears others have been sniped as well.

I'll provide a follow-up once I've been re-indexed.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Unique Blog Designs - Or Broken Blog Designs?

Today I was listening to the first of two podcasts in which John Chow hosted the Shoemoney Show. One of his guests was Nate Whitehill from Unique Blog Designs. Nate is known for redesigning both Chow and Shoemoney's blogs. Although his work is unquestionably great, I was a bit shocked to discover that many of his designs render horribly in IE6 (see pics below). Based on stats from my own sites, the majority of my visitors are still using IE6. Given the $750 price tag Nate charges for a new skin, I would expect the design to be cross-browser compatible.