In the wake of Penguin, many webmasters were searching for a way to recover from the damage of spammy links back to their site. Previously, we explored some of the hardships people faced from both Google Penguin and Panda updates. Google has taken steps to help webmasters recover from Penguin updates by reporting through webmasters tools links that Google views to be spammy. Now that you know which links are “bad” for your site, the next step is to remove them. But how? Sure you can go to each site and request your link to be removed, but there are no guarantees if it will ever come down or how long it will take. Many people have been asking Google for a way to “disavow” a link. This system would allow us to inform Google that we no longer wish to accept the credit (Positive or Negative) from a given link. Well the waiting is over, sort of….
Bing has beaten Google to the punch. Last week they announced a disavow program where webmasters can report links to their site that they no longer wish to associate with. But why Bing? Have we heard anything about Bing penalizing websites for poor link quality? While more control over your internet presence is always a good thing, what benefits does this provide us?
The new Bing quality control link system allows us to discredit links to our sites through the Bing Webmasters tool. Users can go through link by link to determine which links are “quality” and which links they would rather not associate with their business. This seems like a rather time consuming process and one would think that this would counter act any negative link impacts, right? Not so fast. Bing states:
These signals help us understand when you find links pointing to your content that you want to distance yourself from for any reason. You should not expect a dramatic change in your rankings as a result of using this tool, but the information shared does help Bing understand more clearly your intent around links pointing to your site.
So Bing doesn’t penalize your website for poor quality links and notifying them of these types of links provides no noticeable change in your search results. So why take the time to do this? One thought is that Bing could be close to updating their algorithm with a Penguin type program in the future. While this seems to make the most sense, I think that Bing will hold off on that for some time. Google bowling has become a growing concern in the past few weeks and has many webmasters and SEO experts asking Google how they plan to combat this new threat. This alone might have Bing waiting to roll out a similar system. For those of you not familiar with Google bowling, this is the process by which your nearest competition buys poor quality links on your behalf, thus penalizing your website while moving them further up in search engine results.
Bing may just be posturing to appear more thoughtful to the needs of webmasters than Google. People have been asking Google for this type of control for years and here is Bing releasing the tool to the public before they even have an algorithm that requires such a tool. But this tool is not perfect and has one glaring flaw. When reporting a link you cannot simply click a check box next to the link but rather have to type in the link manually into a different section. The time consuming process currently resides in a system that seemingly does not need it. So what is Google to do? Providing this type of system makes the most sense. In webmasters tools one can receive reports from Google about poor links and then remove them. It seems like a simple solution but it is?
Some have suggested that this type of system will only encourage people to go back to building out poor links and then remove the ones that Google finds. This seems like an easy way for people to work the system. On the other side of the scale we have to weigh the negative effects that Penguin has caused. Penguin cannot be a death sentence for your website and Google needs a simpler way of allowing users to correct their mistakes. In my opinion, creating a similar system to that of Bing will be the best move for Google. While there will be those who try to cheat the system, those people will always exist. Penguin acts a warning shot to those engaging in poor SEO tactics. Today more than ever business owners are reading about SEO and realizing that they need to invest time before they make the same mistakes. I think that less people will try to cheat the system given the stories from the first Penguin update.
I find the idea of Google bowling to be very scary. The idea that people can submit your site to poor sites and cause penalties against your business is scary. With control of your links through your webmasters tools this would not be as scary. Right now we can still check webmasters tools for odd links and attempt to remove them but that it not always a simple task. Currently Google has not fully explained how they plan on combatting the practice of bowling but have gone on record:
Matt discussed how Google deals with this. In the session he said:
The short answer is we try really hard to make sure that one person can’t Google bowl another person. You try to include it in your algorithm so much that you don’t want those links to count, but you don’t necessarily want anyone to be in a position where somebody else could try to hurt you….
We try to make it so that it doesn’t cause a drop in your rankings (if a competitor tries to hurt you). We try to do stuff algorithmically, we use manual means…we’ve been pretty clear that we do not like paid links and we take action on it, but at the same time, we try very hard to make it so that just because somebody else doesn’t like you, they can’t submarine your rankings and things like that.
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