On November 11, 2019, Bing announced an algorithm update that could put an end to manipulations of website structure. New penalties will prevent unscrupulous domain owners from exposing their pages to search robots in misleading ways. These measures are tailored to combat shady practices, both old and new.
Bing-Approved Website Structures
To give website owners a chance to fix errors and avoid penalties, the search giant’s administrators provided two structure samples that conform to their expectations.
In the first case, all content on a single website belongs to a common domain name that separates it from the external webspace. All pages and categories make up a single site.
In the second case, a number of websites belonging to a single company are subject to common hosting and function as subdomains. Each website has its own original content and design, and does not intersect with other subdomains.
Why Website Boundaries are Important
It is well known that external links bring more ranking benefits than internal ones. It is assumed that anyone can advertise themselves on their own website. Search engines do not perceive self-praise as a merit that should be rewarded with high positions in SERPs.
But it is quite another thing when external websites link to your resource, adding stars to your reputation and building your good name. Such mentions are considered to be unbiased and more helpful to users seeking trustworthy companies.
Bing rewards online platforms with strong backlink profiles by pushing them higher in search. If you want to outrun your competitors and jump to page one, it seems reasonable to focus on external link-building.
Where Trouble Can Arise
It takes a lot of time and effort to build niche authority and establish favorable relationships with partner websites who are willing to sponsor your backlinks. With a solid backlink profile, it will not be long before your search positions begin to improve.
To up your ranking in search, you will have to create high-end content that is compliant with the requirements of popular contributor platforms. Some pieces will be criticized and rejected by editors, and you will need to spend even more time correcting them.
To work around these challenges, some companies try to trick the system. They launch clone websites with duplicate content and exchange links among their own platforms.
Let’s say an essay writing agency launches several similar websites targeting users in the US, Canada, Australia, and the UK. They use the same design and content, offer the same services across all four locations, perform assignments in a single US office, and deliver them online.
These local websites will have only slight differences, mainly boiling down to keyword endings (buy essay in the UK, buy essay in Canada, etc.) This approach is very convenient, since they can spend four times less on web development and content marketing while enhancing the backlink profiles of subsidiary websites by exchanging links.
Bing perceives such behavior as cheating. This essay writing company has a higher ranking advantage over other niche firms who struggle to build relationships with reputable platforms to get genuine backlinks.
In fact, it is not prohibited to host subsidiary websites. But to avoid Bing’s penalties, each website should have a unique design and content. It is important to show that a UK essay is not the same as a Canadian essay. Simply changing keyword endings does not make a new website. If you have nothing original to say on each subsidiary, it makes more sense to create a single website that serves clients in all four locations, than to clog up the webspace with clones.
Of course, Bing is unable to check the borders of all sites manually. That is why their algorithm was augmented with a feature for detecting inorganic structure. The move is intended to clear the web of shady link building practices and inspire companies to boost their rankings organically.
If you are tempted to expose your internal links as external ones, think twice. Bing’s algorithm is becoming smarter and increasingly fool-proof.
Website Structures Penalized by Bing
Some manipulative practices had already been identified and featured in Bing’s guidelines, while others are new. Let’s consider three examples to help you understand which tactics Bing perceives as severe violations.
Doorways and Duplicate Content
Our example of an essay writing company creating clone subsidiary sites falls under this category. The only distinctions between the websites are different domain names and local keywords (term paper in Australia, dissertation in Canada, etc.)
The US website may be the primary site that serves as the final destination, while the other three sites satisfy its promotional needs and serve as doorways through which link juice flows.
In fact, all the above domains represent the same website and share the same content.
Bing perceives such structures as cheating and punishes those who use them.
In this case, several website sections are located on different domains. For example, product pages are placed on domainA.com, the blog is found on domainB.com, FAQ, Contacts, and About Us pages are on domainC.com, while landing pages are found on domainD.com. By exchanging links between sections positioned as separate websites, the company gains an unfair ranking advantage.
All the above domains make up a single website.
Bing is very strict about such misuse of links and applies penalties to those practicing this approach.
Subdomain or Subfolder Leasing
Some companies make money by leasing part of their hosting space to partner brands. Let’s say a legal firm leases a subdomain to a clothing store. Both benefit, since the legal firm charges leasing fees, while the clothing store saves money by not having to buy and promote its own domain.
Bing would find this partnership suspicious. Placing pages dedicated to legal services and fashion trends in the same domain seems awkward and illogical. In such situations, the partners do not acknowledge their relationship. They simply exchange a few links and hide them while functioning as two independent organizations. Their collaboration clearly brings no benefits to users and intentionally misleads search robots.
A domain accommodates the main website and leases a subdomain to a partner brand.
Bing intends to punish mainly leased subdomains and, in some cases, domain owners.
Your Content is Your Responsibility
Before leasing your subdomain to a third-party company, consider whether this collaboration is risk-free for you. Potential problems often outweigh profits, so be very cautious.
Even though Bing directs most of its wrath at subdomains, your primary domain can also suffer. If you lease 90% of your space to spammy websites and run your own website on the remaining 10%, the entire site may be perceived as spam and penalized.
Bing is also adamant about hacked websites. If hackers create spammy subfolders on your domain, it could be quarantined. Website owners are often unaware that malicious activities have taken place on their platform. Bing notifies you about them so you can take action to clean up your domain. It is recommended that you leverage advanced protection measures to avoid such situations.
Respect Bing’s Rules and Do Not Play With Fire
Some people think they can out-smart search robots. But algorithms are constantly evolving, and every month advances are made to eliminate unfair practices. Using shady practices today can cost you money in the long run.
Adhere to Bing’s instructions at every stage of your promotional campaign and you will gradually push your site upward in search. Organic website structure will attract valuable organic traffic, help you build a trustworthy brand image, and increase your online sales.