Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the Google vs. Bing competition. Bing, the massive underdog, has definitely been stepping up their game.

And it’s been showing. Recently, they reported a 5% increase in search users from Google. A huge deal, considering where Bing started from. But now Bing has another victory under their belt: user satisfaction.

A recent ACSI survey rated Google and Bing at approximately the same position. This means users are just as satisfied with Bing as they are with Google.

Bing’s doing a lot right. Webmaster tools, emphasis on the user experience, giving SEO’s the ability to denounce links – the list goes on. Their only hope against Google was to listen to the market, and they’ve been doing so with excellent results.

Is Google going to answer?

We think they’re in the process of doing just that.

Recently, Matt Cutts announced a new feature in the Google webmaster tools:

“You can now download links from Google *sorted by date*. Nice. Look for “Download latest links” in console UI. Pass it on!”

Google caught a lot of flack for the Penguin update. Not only did it seriously mess up the rankings, but many webmasters felt they were unjustly penalized. Sure, they may have had one or two bad links in their link portfolio, but what could they do about that? The reality was, Google hadn’t provided us with any tools capable of helping webmasters who had bad links what wanted them removed.

So if your site got hit by Penguin, your only option was to dig through your webmaster tools, try and find bad links, then contact whoever linked to you and ask them—politely—to remove it.

As you can imagine (or maybe you know from experience), this wasn’t easy. And it got even worse. Many beginner SEOs use black hat techniques, to begin with. They want their site ranked and they want it ranked today. So they use techniques that give them short-term rankings.

Then, as time goes by, they realize that may have been a bad idea. But what can they do at this point? They already have a link profile saturated with black hat links. It’s not easy getting these removed.

Recently, though, Bing added a feature that allows SEOs to “disavow” links. So if you have bad links pointed to your site, instead of having to contact the person who created those links, you can simply disavow them.

Now, to answer Bing, Google’s released a similar tool. With their latest feature, website owners can now go into their webmaster center and download the latest links pointing towards their site. The links are downloaded in spreadsheet format, making them relatively easy to sort through.

If you find a link you don’t approve of, you can now report that link to Google.

Sure, it’s not as easy as disavowing a link. But at least we have options now. Also, the ability to download your latest links is very useful for daily SEO work.

Because of Bing, Google’s been forced to make changes to their own webmaster center. This is what we like to see – two companies duking it out for our business. Although Google’s been the massive leader of search for quite some time now, it doesn’t make them invincible. If Google wants to retain their #1 spot, they’re going to need to continue doing what put them there in the first place – focusing on the user experience.

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