Microsoft and Rand Team up to Squash the SEO Industry
Last time I heard the powers that be in search engine land told us that manipulating the rankings is a no-no. In many ways, much of what SEO is about has never been looked on favourably by search engines. They certainly have some guidelines and the ever popular Terms of Service but ultimately there has been a them against us feel in the game over the years.
So, when I heard the Microsoft was getting into the Search Engine Optimization biz
. I had to rub my eyes.
Yup...thats right, I give you the; Microsoft ISV SEO Program
WTF did he just say?
You heard me
and I have to wonder if were crossing some line here.
Rise to the Top - Improve your search-engine rankings and start attracting more sales leads to your company's website. Contact Microsoft today to request details on how to sign up.
One could argue that it may legitimatize SEO, but then if all the engines did, what stops the ultimate creep into paid placement in the organic search results? I decided to download the PDF of services and some tidbits sure do seem interesting; let us review together shall we?
Search Engine Friendliness (SEF) - Examination of SEF factors, such as page titles, META and ALT tags, headers, keyword usage and density, indexable page copy, and search engine saturation, can help your Web pages best comply with an engines ranking criteria.
It sure would be handy if I knew the usage/densities that Live was programmed with now wouldnt it? As I would also LOVE to have the inside track on the ranking criteria. As you can see, this can get a bit sticky here. They can jump through all the hoops they want, but I am unconvinced that there is no interrelations between the search engineers and the SEO folks in this cozy little affair.
Link Popularity - A link strategy is a great way to grow your link popularity, traffic, and organic rankings. Youll receive a report on the quantity of inbound links to the Web site and suggestions for improvement.
Now thats the one I really want to know about
what exactly ARE the suggestions? Id also be keen to see what they consider the quality of an inbound link. Are they talking about link bait? Or are we talking about actual endorsements as far as suggestions are concerned? I would really LOVE to see what Microsoft suggest for my link building campaign and their valuations of existing ones
Keyword Research - The right search term could determine how easily customers find your business. Youll receive a list of relevant keywords and phrases, including search frequencies to target for optimization.
Once again, they have the access to some very valuable information as far as search volumes are concerned and this starts to make me queasy. I have from time to time had access to such types of data myself and can tell you
it is GOLD.
The Rand connection
. And this one kind of caught me
SEOmoz Online Premium Subscription Offer - Receive a free three-month subscription with the purchase of an annual membership. When you sign up, youll also receive exclusive access to SEO articles, Web tools, and insider tips and tricks not available to the general public.
So it would seem that Rand is along for the ride here. So am I to believe that the Search Engines are our friends and there is no real conflict of interest? I mean, come on
. Rand is involved it must be a good thing right? Or is Rand selling us all out to keep his partners happy with the bottom line? This seems interesting and I cant help but wonder if Rand and Co isnt somehow involved in the actual services being provided.
Is it just me or is there a slippery slope when the folks that are supposed to be serving up so-called natural organic search results are not only courting the SEO community but actively competing against them? I am not prone to using public figures as bait nor am I likely to play the sour grapes campaign; I merely find something unsettling with this. There is an inherent element of impropriety that tells me that a search engine cannot be unbiased when involved in both the ranking process and advising how to dominate the same.
I dub this the- RandGates Scandal (tongue entirely planted in cheek)
So what does it all mean?
The pricing ranges from $5 500 - $8 600 and does seem a tad exorbitant considering the services offered. Though, it could be argued that they have access to some pretty sweet data that I am certainly jealous of. I would love to see one of these reports as I wonder what would happen if a MS advised tactic broke anothers TOS (you know, those other guys) what would happen? I mean would Google BAN Microsofts SEO Service pages? Give the TBPR a hand job? Last time I checked Google now thinks that bartering for a link is bad ju ju (which is another rant altogether) If MS advises a widget for link bait, would Adam and Matt give em the smack down? Or would the client get their cash back? It is all just more than a little fuzzy here folks.
You could look at this from many angles as far as the death of SEO Shop
. A huge conflict of interest
unfair competitive practices and I dare say you could even wonder what role Rand has played in all of this. At the moment I am curious and concerned, I am not quite sure what to make of it and wonder how long it will be until the other Bigs are also actively in the game.
What do YOU think it all means?
(BTW- thanks to Brian for Pointing this out and Danny for leads on More of the Story the Office Package stuff --- If we hear from Rand I shall certainly annotate his comments here as well)
ADDED - ok, for the record Rand it is his last name is most definately 'Fishkin' and he has a Non Disclosure Agreement which means he can only add;
Microsoft is, obviously, a mammoth company. The group offering these services is the Microsoft Partner Program, which does not interact directly or indirectly with MSN/Live Search. Everyone reading this thread probably has a closer connection to Matt Cutts; the Google Search Team than anyone at Microsoft Partner has with the folks running the Live search product.
..hmmmm.... that could b reaching a bit and I am still not entirely convinced that all is going to play out as a level surface. Sure, Rand is not concerned and at 42 I am not all that worried; but what does it mean for the next generation of SEOs.... will they all work for the Search Engines?