**This post was selected as one of the top digital marketing articles of the week by UpCity, a B2B ratings and review company for digital marketing agencies and other marketing service providers.**
As marketers and SEOs, the industry tends to focus most of its attention on Google. It is after all the search engine with the largest market share. According to Statista, in July 2019, it held 88.61% of the overall market share, while Bing accounted for 4.98%. However, failing to consider other search engines in a digital marketing strategy can prove harmful for many businesses.
That said, Bing has recently announced new link penalties that are focused on taking down private blog networks (PBNs), subdomain leasing, and manipulative cross-site linking.
Inorganic Site Structure
Bing wants to penalize what it calls “inorganic site structure.” Inorganic site structure refers to a linking pattern that uses internal site leveling signals with subdomains or cross-site linking patterns with external domains in an attempt to manipulate search engine rankings. These spam techniques have existed for years, but Bing introduced the concept of calling them inorganic site structure as a way to describe them.
Bing has noted that sites legitimately create subdomains to keep parts of the site separate such as support.domain.com or app.domain.com. The search engine maintains they will treat those domains as belonging to the main domain passing site-level signals to the subdomains.
Bing also said that sites like WordPress create stand-alone websites under subdomains. This is what happens when you create a site at WordPress.com. in this case, no site-level signals pass to those subdomains.
Having a definition of website boundaries is vital because algorithms assign different values to internal links than they do external links.
What Constitutes an Inorganic Site Structure?
An inorganic site structure happens when a company leases a subdomain to take advantage of site-level signals to increase search engine rank. Bing has included PBNs as part of an organic site structure.
“If your internal links are viewed as external, you can get a nice rank boost,” Bing says in its blog post, “And if you can propagate some of the site-level signals to pages that don’t technically belong to your website, these pages can get an unfair advantage.”
PBNs are scheme networks that exist to manipulate the search engines by artificially passing link equity to other sites so that the target sites rank higher. Participating in this type of activity is already a violation of Bing’s link policy. However, going forward, it will also be in breach of the inorganic site structure policy and may be subject to additional penalties.
Doorway and Duplicate Content
Bing has seen an increase in the creation of dozens of doorway sites trying to rank for different keywords sets.
The doorways are designed to look like multiple independent sites, but they redirect to the same destination, which deceives the users who click through. Because duplicate content is such a common occurrence, Bing has said they will assess the intent of the content before designating it a violation of the inorganic site structure policy.
Leasing a subdomain to a different entity makes it challenging to determine how involved the main domain owner is, which makes it hard to tell whether the subdomain should be considered part of the Moon website.
Bing noted that a lack of easily accessible and direct navigation between the main site and a subdomain was a common issue between all of the cases they reviewed. Therefore the intent was clearly to benefit from site-level signals even though the content on the subdomain had little to do with the content on the rest of the domain.”
Bing acknowledged that some consider allowing a third party to rent and operate a subdomain as a legitimate way to earn money from a website. They had this to say:
“However, in this case, the practice equates to buying ranking signals, which is not much different from buying links. Therefore, we decided to consider ‘subdomain leasing’ a violation of our ‘inorganic site structure’ policy when it is clearly used to bring a completely unrelated third-party service into the website boundary, for the sole purpose of leaking site-level signals to that service.”
In the majority of subdomain leasing cases, the penalty would only apply to the least subdomain and not the root domain.
Why This Matters
The violations mentioned in their blog post may be tempting shortcuts to achieve higher ranks. Apparently, enough site owners have begun to use them to warrant a new penalty. Regardless of what new black-hat search engine optimization tactics you may struggle across, understand that getting caught can have dire consequences for your organic visibility and may even result in delisting. In this situation, there is no shortcut for making a comeback.
As website owners, you may also be held responsible for the content hosted under your domain. If you were to offer free hosting on your subdomains and 95% of them are flagged as spam, Bing says they will expand the penalties to the entire domain even if the root website itself is not spam. Penalties may also be generalized for subdirectories or subfolders that thing suspect have been hacked.
When you hire a search engine optimization and digital marketing firm to handle your online properties for you, you must trust that they do not engage in black hat SEO tricks. Relying on these tactics, such as domain leasing and doorway content to boost your ranking, only hurts in the end. Here at Sach’s Marketing Group, we use only approved methods for increasing your ranking. That’s why you’ll see natural growth over time, rather than fast results.
We’re glad to hear Bing is making improvements to provide quality, relevant results to its users. Competition between search engines encourages innovation. As we see Bing continue to improve, we may see search traffic become more diversified as people leave Google in favor of Bing and other search engines.