Search engines are putting extra effort to keep the internet safe and efficient to use. One of the recent efforts is Bing’s decision to penalise what it calls “inorganic site structures.” The penalty ranges from not ranking the sites prominently to completely delisting them from its index.
What is an inorganic site structure?
It is a linking technique that manipulates search engine rankings using sub-domains or cross-site linking patterns. The spam practice has existed for years, but only Bing has given a name to it. In its announcement on 4th November 2019, Bing defined the following violations:
Where a domain’s boundary ends
To explain the basis of the penalty, Bing introduced the concept of domain boundaries. It noted that the boundaries of a domain might extend to legitimate subdomains such as info.example.com. In such cases, the subdomains enjoy site-level signals.
However, some domains such as WordPress.com often create subdomains that are independent of the main domain; in such a case, the subdomains do not benefit from site-level signals.
Bing pointed out that the value of a link depends on whether the algorithm views it as internal or external. Having external links on a page improves the ranking of the linked site. Also, websites of subdomains that share boundaries with the root domain enjoy the same ranking boost.
Private blog networks under fire
The understanding of domain boundaries put link schemes and private blog networks on the spot. According to Bing, PBNs are notorious for artificially splitting a single website into many domains, then cross-linking them to each other. The manipulation boosts the ranking of these cross-linked sites.
The use of PBNs was already in violation of Bing’s link policy. Now it will violate Bing’s “inorganic site structure” policy also and will attract additional penalties.
Duplicate contents and doorway sites
Doorway sites are sites that are designed to look different but redirects to the same destination. The objective is to boost ranking for specific keywords and then redirect the readers to the main site.
These sites also have duplicate content. However, since duplicate content is common online, Bing promises to assess sites with similar content before flagging them for penalties.
Since the algorithm offers the same site-level benefits to related subdomains, highly-ranked sites often lease a subdomain or subfolder to other sites. It is a means of monetising the website. However, the sites hosted on the leased sub-domains often have nothing in common with the main site.
Bing pointed out the objective of this activity is to buy ranking signals, which is similar to buying links. As a result, it concluded that subdomain leasing violates the “inorganic site structure” policy if it brings services unrelated to that of the main domain.
Why website owners need to care
The violations listed by Bing may seem harmless for webmaster who utilise these techniques, the consequence might be dire. Besides low ranking, it can lead to delisting. Bing has promised to limit the penalties to the subdomains or subfolders. However, the penalties might extend to the whole domain in cases were a large percentage of the subdomains violate Bing’s “inorganic site structure policy.”