[Editorial] Should You Use Bing’s Disavow Links To Report Spam Links Pointing Towards Your Site?

The Penguin update, Google’s latest algorithmic tweak takes over optimization very seriously. To be precise, Penguin has been addressed to answer the ever expanding issue of link spam; this algorithmic change lowers the ranking of sites who use unfair means to gain higher ranks in Google search results. (e.g there are sites who try to rob the so called “PageRank” through repetitive anchor texts.)

Penguin, apart from filtering over optimized sites, also scans for possible violations of Google Webmasters quality guidelines. If you have a website which has been intentionally over optimized, has a good number of paid links / reciprocal links, the chances of getting hit by a forthcoming Penguin update is very high. In fact, almost unavoidable.

Probably the worst thing regarding Penguin update is that there is no way you can prevent the upcoming massacre, as you don’t have control on who links to you. This has evoked the concept of negative SEO and many webmasters have this question – Can competitors harm my site through spam links? What is the procedure to tell Google that these links that point to my site are spam, I have not bought them and I dont want them to be associated with my site? I want to tell Google that I am not behind these links and my website should not be a victim of any algorithmic update.

Google: We Will Figure Out Spam Links On Our Own

Google’s classical reply is “You don’t have to worry about who links to you, we will figure it out on our own. We have our own judgement, methodologies and algorithms in place, as reliance on manual feedback from every single site owner is practically impossible. If some spam source is linking to your content and you see thousand of incoming links out of nowhere, you may want to file a spam report.”

However, Google Engineer Matt Cutts has recently said in a video that there are situations when a competitor can actually “behave like a competitor” and try to harm your site.

Matt said:

“Whenever we write an algorithm, e.g which looks at incoming links, we do think about what if a competitor tries to hurt someone else. We try to put in code to make sure that this practice is not easy to do, its not the case that someone can hurt someone else that easily. As a result, we haven’t really felt the need to add a feature in Google Webmaster tools which allows the webmaster to send us a list of links that Google should not trust or count upon. Maybe we will do it down the road but at least for the time being, we are not offering this feature.”

Bing: Tell Us About Unnatural Links From Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing has played white and made the first move, announcing a new feature in Bing Webmaster tools which allows webmasters to disavow links that are unnatural, spammy or completely created from “junk”.

Starting today, you can use your Bing webmaster tools account to tell Microsoft the sources who are maliciously linking to your website. There are situations when a spam site, a porn site or a low quality site rips you off and links to random pages on your site, so now you can tell Bing – “Hey, please do not count these low quality links, I don’t trust them and I have good belief they have been created by a spammer.”

An excerpt from the post:

Using the Disavow Links tool, you can easily and quickly alert Bing about links you don’t trust.  Using the drop-down, you can choose to input signals to us at the page level, a directory level or at a domain level.  We’ll note the “type” of location (page, directory or domain) and the date you told us of the action.

So if you’re paranoid about link spam and want to play it safe, you may want to send the entire list of spam sources to Bing. Please note that Bing team has clearly stated not to expect a dramatic change in search results, just because you’re using the “Disavow links” tools from Bing Webmaster tools. Your action will help Bing understand your intent and thoughts about links that are pointing towards your site, everything else will obviously be in Bing’s hand, not yours.

Verdict: Haters Gonna Hate, Spammers Gonna Spam – Just Do Your Thing!

If you ask me, I would not worry about it at all because this is something beyond my control. A hundred spam sites is okay but in reality, the number is quite high and keeps on increasing every single day. Reporting spam is a vicious circle and a complete waste of time, if your site is a bit old and has decent traffic.

But there can be situations when you’re left with no other choice. For example, your site got hit by a Penguin refresh, you analyzed the logs and found that organic traffic from Google and Bing has tanked. You can try and see if things work out but in general, I would not worry about it that much.  It is best not to worry about something which you can’t control but to make your own thing better, provide a good user experience and polish it until the shine returns.

Setbacks are part of the business, it is just a matter of time when you will take the right steps and the results will reflect on their own, without you having to knock doors of every other search engine on earth.

You know, Karma is awesome!

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Amit Banerjee

Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee