Bing has announced a new configuration area in Bing Webmaster Tools called “Disavow Links.” The tool is for submitting URLs of spammy or low-quality sites that link to you or links to your site that seem “unnatural.” The new tool can be found under the Configure My Site area of Bing Webmaster Tools.
The tool allows you to provide Bing with signals that alert Bing to links you don’t trust, according to Bing’s blog post. There are no limits to the links you can disavow. Doing so helps send signals to Bing that suggest you want to distance yourself from the site providing the link to you.
The tool is merely a way of letting site owners tell Bing what they think of some of the links pointing back to their sites. Regardless of the reason you’re choosing to disavow a link, the mere fact that a webmaster communicates with Bing is what’s most important to them.
“Webmasters have been asking for a way to disavow links for years now,” said Bing’s Duane Forrester. “This tool starts that conversation. It can help Bing understand a webmaster’s intent around links pointed at their site.”
But what happens if you disavow a link you think is shady, but really isn’t? Will that hurt your site’s ranking? Forrester said no, the act of disavowing a link is merely a signal to Bing.
“Given there are hundreds of signals at play when determining rankings, telling us to ignore the value from some links, in most instances, won’t have a dramatic effect.”
Everything is a signal. For example, many sites improperly use rel=canonical markup. However, Bing is flexible how they react to these signals.
You won’t see major fluctuations in rankings in some sort of knee-jerk response from merely one signal. Forrester said the overriding a signal to protect a website is an important aspect of their flexibility. If you activate a signal that would be detrimental to your site – for example improper canonical or disavowing a good link – Bing can choose to ignore that signal.
The question has become why? There’s been a lot of hubbub regarding links over the past few months since Google’s Penguin update. But penalizing for unnatural backlinks was a Google thing, right?
Forrester suggests that the ability to disavow links has been an ongoing topic for years. After the recent redesign of Webmaster Tools, Bing was in a position to be able to create this tool. So they did.
Forrester said the timing of this update isn’t correlated to Penguin. The tool was part of ongoing developments in Webmaster Tools based from ongoing feedback they have received from webmasters.
Bottom line: while these tools are provided for helping to make Bing a better engine, don’t dwell on the be all, end all nature of every act you take.
“It’s very important folks keep an eye the bigger picture,” said Forrester. “Everything is about signals and balance. This new disavow tool, like all the rest of Bing’s Webmaster tools, helps Bing to understand a webmaster’s intent around its site, and its links.”