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Can Websites Get SEO Penalties on Bing Too?

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The short answer? Of course. Bing is a search engine that uses an algorithm to rank websites based on relevancy and quality. So it of course has measures in place to penalize those sites that try to game the system in their favor.

One way to look at this question is if you should bother optimizing your site for Bing. So much of the focus in SEO land is on optimizing for Google that Bing tends to get lost in the shuffle. That being said, it’s becoming increasingly important to optimize for Bing. Many mobile devices come with Bing integrated — that means users are going to opt for this search engine over Google. And that means more searches for your industry related terms through Bing. You can guess where this train of thought goes next, right?

So yes, you must use all of your SEO know-how for Bing, too.

Penalties on Bing

It can be difficult to discern if you have a Bing penalty unless it’s severe. I’m talking the having all of your pages removed from the Bing index sort of severe. A significant breach of the Bing Webmaster Guidelines will net you this result. What constitutes a penalty is actually pretty easy for anyone familiar with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to guess:

• Malware and spam
• Duplicate or thin content
• Keyword stuffing
• Link schemes
• Social media schemes
• Cloaking and hidden content

All of these are serous issues that could lead to your site being delisted from the search engine results. While duplicate content is not explicitly stated as a reason for a site to be delisted, it has been reason enough in the past, so it’s best to avoid.

Let’s spend some time now to look at each of these types of violations, why they result in a penalty, and what you can do to rectify the situation.

Malware and spam

articleimage347Malware and spam

Malware is a tricky little devil. It can pop up for no apparent reason. And what makes it so frustrating is that malware can infect your site through no fault of your own. There was a security breach somewhere and a hacker or spammer found a way in. Often, the malware poses no risk to the site owner. But it can pose a danger to site visitors. That’s why Bing warns visitors in the search results if a site is suspected of containing malware or spam. As the site owner, you will also be notified of the malware if you’re logged into Bing Webmaster Tools.

Once you clean up the malware and prevent the vulnerabilities that cause the issue, you can submit a malware re-evaluation request. Of course, if malware is left on a site too long without any intervention on the part of the site owner, it could result in delisting.

Duplicate or thin content

articleimage347duplicatecontent

Duplicate content is bad, bad, bad. You probably know that already but it bears repeating. When you have more than one page on your site with identical content, it causes each instance of that content to lose value. Unique content—so long as it’s high quality—is inherently valuable in the online space. Duplicate content, as you might assume, falls on the opposite end of that spectrum.

Instead of adding value, this content detracts from the overall value of your site. And if the problem is severe enough, it can result in your site being knocked back considerably in rank.

The simplest solution is getting rid of the duplicate content. Often, this means writing new, original content to take its place, which can be a time-consuming process, especially if it was a widespread problem. Some people try to take a shortcut by adding rel=canonical to all pages with duplicate content. And yes, this is useful if it’s a minor problem. Still, your best bet is to just get your hands dirty and fix the actual problem. Bing also recommends using its Ignore URL Parameters tool if a lot of parameterization is causing the duplicate content problem.

Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is a very 1998 SEO tactic but it’s still worth noting that it’s not an acceptable way to boost search engine rank. Primarily because people still do it! However, keyword stuffing can cause your site to suffer significant penalties, including demotion or delisting of your site in Bing’s search results.

“Don’t keyword stuff,” is about the most obvious advice we can offer but it’s apt, just the same. In fact, your best bet is to create content for real people. That means using natural phrasing and avoiding awkward or forced syntax just to get the keywords to fit.

Yes, you should still do keyword research and yes, you should still optimize for specific keywords. But that refers more to the overall relevancy of your content to your target audience these days than it does literally including a keyword a prescribed number of times per page.

Link schemes

A number of link schemes exist and they all produce a detrimental effect for your site in the long run. Link spamming and linkbuying will definitely get more links pointed to your site. So in that way, they work. But the failure of the scheme is twofold. First, the link quality is poor so no one that’s in your target demographic will actually click through. And second, if Bing catches on, your site could be delisted.

So many people think they can “fool” the search engine with all these fake backlinks but it’s just not going to work. Bing will notice. And you will suffer the consequences. So it’s best to avoid being penalized in this way in the firstplace.

Social media schemes

articleimage347socialmediascheme

Social media has a direct influence on your site’s rank on Bing. So, as you might imagine, participating in some sort of scheme to artificially increase the number of likes, shares, followers, friends, or what have you on your social accounts, can result in penalties.

Participating in “like farms” and automatically following anyone who follows you indicates you have a relatively small influence on a given social network. This means your associated website won’t be viewed as influential, either. There are exceptions to the auto-follow back rule, of course. Ted Coiné, anyone? But in general, it’s important to build a genuine following based on your ability to capture attention.

At this point, it doesn’t appear participating in social schemes will get your site delisted but one has to assume that’s where we’re headed.

Cloaking

Want to get your site delisted really quick? Then use cloaking. This tactic presents a different version of your site to your visitors than what’s presented to the Bing crawler. This is spam-tastic and generally not recommended. I can’t think of a reason why you’d want to cloak content to the search engine bot anyway. So maybe just don’t do it, okay?

Getting Your Site Reindexed

If your site has been delisted due to one of the issues mentioned above, not to worry — there is hope for you! However, it will take some time. Whether your site was removed algorithmically or manually, you’ll need to submit a reconsideration request offering a detailed explanation of what you did to fix the problem. Seriously, don’t leave a single detail out. The process is similar to Google in this way.

Having your site re-listed can take several months so repairing the damage is definitely a part of your long-term strategy. There is no short-term fix here. With that in mind, wouldn’t it be a much better idea to avoid these tactics in the first place and just go the legitimate route from the get-go?

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James Parsons

I'm an avid blogger on SEO, social media, and design. When I'm not working with the awesome guys at AudienceBloom, I'm writing for my personal blog at JamesParsons.com or working on my next big project.

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