Perhaps due to the launch of Google’s Penguin update and the mounting fear of negative SEO, a tactic in which malicious competitors attempt to harm a site’s rankings through targeted spammy link building, website owners have become more and more worried about the potential harm a bad link could do to their site. Although Google representatives have stated that it is very difficult for a competitor to harm another site’s rankings, it still remains possible. Bing representatives and documentation, have also recently tried to calm webmaster worries by stating that Bing can detect a “sudden appearance of obviously spammy links pointed at your site.” After detecting these unusual spammy links, Bing is most likely to ignore them. Nevertheless, negative SEO still remains a possibility and links that have been built to a site in the past could be hurting the site’s potential to rank in the search engines now. In the face of this building concern, Bing has responded and offered webmasters a way to distance their sites from unnatural or spammy links that are currently pointing to their domains.
In order to give webmasters more control over which links they want to distance their sites from, Bing created and released the Disavow Links Tool in July. As a part of Bing’s Webmaster Toolbox, this feature allows webmasters to signal which links to their site they don’t trust. Links that appear unnatural or spammy can now be disavowed with this easy-to-use tool. By taking a look through your backlinks using tools like Bing’s own Link Explorer, Raven’s Backlink Explorer or the Open Site Explorer, a webmaster can identify spammy or unnatural links and submit them to the Link Disavow Tool simply by plugging in the URL, choosing a link type and pressing a button. Although Google has been talking about launching a similar tool for months, Bing has beat them to the punch and offered the tool to all users who have verified their site in Bing’s Webmaster Tools.
Bing has recently expanded the set of features in its Webmaster Toolbox to include: an expanded SEO Analyzer which provides SEO suggestions tailored to your site, a keyword research tool that offers keyword statistics and suggestions and a new link explorer tool which allows users to explore links pointing to any domain. With this expanded set of features, Bing seems to have embraced the fact that website owners want to improve their SEO. By providing innovative tools that arm webmasters and search engine optimization specialists with actionable data, Bing has provided what webmasters and specialists need to make websites better. The ramifications this improved functionality could have on Bing’s search results and the web at large could be immense. Additionally, by challenging Google’s Webmaster Tools product to do more, we could see reactive and competitive improvements within their set of Webmaster Tools – all of which could benefit webmasters and the web in general greatly. The strides that Bing has made in terms of search engine algorithm transparency and webmaster assistance have been huge. The Link Disavowal Tool is just another example of how Bing is changing the landscape of search and the web in general and how in some cases Google, the supposed industry leader, is now having to play catch-up.
Within the SEO department here at Leverage Marketing Agency, we monitor both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for our clients and leverage the data contained therein to improve our clients’ SEO. I would recommend that all webmasters consider verifying their sites in Bing Webmaster Tools, if they haven’t already, in order to use and leverage the free tools offered within the extensive toolbox. Also, stay tuned for a follow-up post explaining how and when to use the Link Disavow Tool and how to identify a negative SEO attack coming soon from the SEO team.