Live search referrer spamming

November 13, 2007 by reuben | Filed under MSN, Tracking.

I don’t usually take much notice of Live search traffic to this blog because they usually don’t drive much if any traffic at all. But I decided to look today and noticed a few weird entries in Google Analytics. I had a bunch of referring keywords from live.com with 1 visit, 2 page views and 0 time on site. Click on the thumbnail to see the full size image:

Live Search Referrer Spam

When you see patterns like that, you have to assume that it’s a bot that’s hitting your site. I downloaded my logs for the past week and took a look. To my surprise there were entries like this:

65.55.165.26 - -
[29/Sep/2007:12:12:45 -0400]
"GET /black-people-on-ebay-again/ HTTP/1.0"
200 25905 www.reubenyau.com
"http://search.live.com/results.aspx?q=people&mrt=en-us&FORM=LIVSOP"
"Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 7.0; Windows NT 5.2; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)" "-"

If you’re not used to reading raw logs, the important items here are the IP address in the first line and the referrer in the 5th line.

Using whois.arin.net you can see that the IP address belongs to Microsoft:

OrgName: Microsoft Corp
OrgID: MSFT
Address: One Microsoft Way
City: Redmond
StateProv: WA
PostalCode: 98052
Country: US

NetRange: 65.52.0.0 - 65.55.255.255
CIDR: 65.52.0.0/14
NetName: MICROSOFT-1BLK
NetHandle: NET-65-52-0-0-1
Parent: NET-65-0-0-0-0
NetType: Direct Assignment
NameServer: NS1.MSFT.NET
NameServer: NS5.MSFT.NET
NameServer: NS2.MSFT.NET
NameServer: NS3.MSFT.NET
NameServer: NS4.MSFT.NET
Comment:
RegDate: 2001-02-14
Updated: 2004-12-09

RTechHandle: ZM23-ARIN
RTechName: Microsoft Corporation
RTechPhone: +1-425-882-8080
RTechEmail: noc@microsoft.com

OrgAbuseHandle: ABUSE231-ARIN
OrgAbuseName: Abuse
OrgAbusePhone: +1-425-882-8080
OrgAbuseEmail: abuse@microsoft.com

OrgAbuseHandle: HOTMA-ARIN
OrgAbuseName: Hotmail Abuse
OrgAbusePhone: +1-425-882-8080
OrgAbuseEmail: abuse@hotmail.com

OrgAbuseHandle: MSNAB-ARIN
OrgAbuseName: MSN ABUSE
OrgAbusePhone: +1-425-882-8080
OrgAbuseEmail: abuse@msn.com

OrgNOCHandle: ZM23-ARIN
OrgNOCName: Microsoft Corporation
OrgNOCPhone: +1-425-882-8080
OrgNOCEmail: noc@microsoft.com

OrgTechHandle: MSFTP-ARIN
OrgTechName: MSFT-POC
OrgTechPhone: +1-425-882-8080
OrgTechEmail: iprrms@microsoft.com

This type of behavior is certainly not in the spirit of the internet and something that’s definitely quite annoying.

So why is Microsoft referrer spamming me? I start searching on forums and I start finding that I’m not the only one being targeted here.

http://ekstreme.com/thingsofsorts/blogging/yell-if-microsofts-livecom-spammed-you-too

http://www.webmasterworld.com/msn_microsoft_search/3424476.htm

http://www.seo-scoop.com/2007/11/13/past-time-for-msn-to-pony-up-to-the-real-truth-about-referrer-spam/

http://smackdown.blogsblogsblogs.com/2007/11/13/microsoft-needs-to-quit-fucking-with-my-adsense-scripts/

So as it turns out, msndude from webmasterworld apologizes and basically says “don’t worry, be happy – and btw, if you block it, you might get banned”. Here’s the actual quote:

The traffic you are seeing is part of a quality check we run on selected pages. While we work on
addressing your conerns, we would request that you do not actively block the IP addreses used by this quality check; blocking these IP addresses could prevent your site from being included in the Live Search index.

HUH? Excuse me? You have a bot that’s not exactly being very nice but I’m not allowed to block it? What kind of practice is that? I don’t run a spammy MFA site. I don’t do anything shady, so why should I have to sit here and have my stats polluted for absolutely nothing in return. If Live was sending me traffic I could perhaps turn a blind eye, but considering that they’ve been on a pretty good downward trend recently, you’d think that they’d want to do a better job of appeasing webmasters. Here’s their traffic over the past few months according to quantcast:

live.com traffic by quantcast

As of tonight it’s being blocked. I really don’t want to play this game, but this type of behavior should not be tolerated by webmasters.


4 Responses to “Live search referrer spamming”

  1. So what’s the problem with them hitting your site?

  2. reuben says:

    David

    If it’s a bot it should comply with the robots exclusion standard. It also doesn’t need to download the adsense javascript code, as that leads to fake impressions. It also doesn’t need to put extra load on everyone’s server and junk up their referrers. I recommend you read the articles I linked to.

  3. [...] and traffic logs, and potentially fucking with their AdSense earnings? My guess is that once the community bitching about them doing all this got loud enough, someone in their legal department got wind of it, and [...]

  4. Live never brings much traffic to my website either, even though I’m on first result for a certain keyword.