Microsoft claims that it's all part of a quality control effort, but a rising number of web masters is complaining that Microsoft is trying to inflate its Live.com traffic delivery by spamming websites.
As one website owner suggests:
IP addresses belonging to Microsoft are requesting pages from eKstreme.com and blogSci.com (my science blog) with HTTP referrer headers suggesting that the hits were from live.com searches. These referrer headers are spoofed as the keywords from these supposed searches are sometimes in no way related to the requested page. Additionally, for most of the other supposed searches, the requested pages do not rank in the top 10 (first page of results) in a way to send this traffic.
Some are suggesting that website owners should block Microsoft's IP addresses to hit back at Microsoft. Is Microsoft really doing this? If so, what should be done?
UPDATE: In response to this question, Microsoft's Jeremiah Andrick sent me the following response via email:
In response to your question, "Is Microsoft spamming websites to boost numbers?" the answer is no. None of the major tracking services use these numbers in their counts so this would not help us in that regard. The tool people are seeing is a cloaking detection tool. It checks to see if the crawled content matches the display content. We did a blog post last fall here.
And Vanessa Fox wrote this post on search engine land also wrote a post last fall.
What concerns me is that some of the comments made make me think there may be a bug in the tool that went previously unreported. We want to make sure this tool, doesn't cause site owners issues and we respect the REP but I need more detail to help us debug the problem. Any details at all would be helpful. We will also do another blog post once we have triaged any issues and I would be glad to answer any questions you may have for your blog.
Thanks for your help.
Conspiracy theories were so much more interesting. :-)