Posted by Nate Somsen, Website Performance Engineer on January 22, 2015
Is it possible that Bing Webmaster Tools is a common tool attempting to mimic Google Webmaster Tools, or is it in reality an up-and-coming secret weapon in dominating Search Engine Optimization? Is Bing Webmaster Tools the Quasimodo of Webmaster Tools up in the bell towers ringing the bells and contributing to the online world? Even though Bing isn’t typically the leading source in bringing in organic traffic, it does have powerful features that, when understood correctly, can assist in drawing attention to websites that utilize Bing Webmaster Tools.
When Bing Webmaster Tools is first set up, there is an option to add an XML Sitemap Path in the initial step. Bing means business; they want to start indexing the website that is submitted. There are several formats that can be submitted for the indexing of a website including XML, RSS 2.0, Atom 0.3 & 1.0, and text files.
When impatience ensues while waiting for the sitemap to be submitted, the next best thing would be to start submitting individual URLs. Granted, that is not the only use for Submit URLs. It could also be used to notify Bing of fresh, new content that has been implemented on the website which needs to be index so visitors can see the life-altering content. One disadvantage is that there is a limit of submitting 10 URLs per day and 50 per month. Not a major issue if new content is added less frequently. But if there are many new pages per day, it would be a great disadvantage, which would leave the submitter asking themselves which child they love more.
Ignoring URL Parameters can be a useful tool when pesky gibberish such as query parameters are tagged onto URLs. An example would be the page index.php?category=annoying&yes would be recognized as simply index.php prior to being indexed by Bing. Bing Webmaster Tools mentions that additional benefits would be the prevention of duplicate content and the page’s index value being split among multiple URL variations.
Many times it would be useful to have the ultimate power to tell Bing, “Now’s not a good time to crawl my website. I’m currently updating my website, and it looks like somebody stepped in something and is now traipsing it throughout my website.” Never fear, Crawl Control is here! This tool enables a control over how much and how often the website is crawled throughout the day by the Bingbot.
“For a limited time only”, Bing search results will remove specific URLs from showing up as a site link in the listings. It is for a limited time because it only lasts for 90 days, so mark those calendars (it can be extended)! The bonus point that makes this such a powerful tool is the ability to indicate a specific country/region.
Block URLs is one step beyond Deep Links; it enables specific pages and/or directories from showing up in Bing Search Results. Just like the majority of the other tools, this too is limited to 90 days. One advantage is once the 90 days are almost up, an email is sent as a reminder that the 90 day probation is almost up—time to get back in there and update the block.
Even though an image may be worth a thousand words, sometimes they might be conveying the wrong words. As a result, Bing allows the temporary removal of the page preview image from the search results which will be refreshed within a 24 hour period. Removing that unwanted image from the page at that time would be advised.
Just like trying to avoid associations with undesirable websites in real life, Bing Webmaster Tools will allow the disavowing of specific pages, directories, or domains. Unfortunately, these have to be entered manually, one at a time. But the positive is once they have been entered, they can be manually deleted one at a time, or even exported.
This is a major selling point that trumps Google Webmaster Tools’ International Targeting. The option is given to set a geographical target for specific countries/regions for particular pages, directories, subdomains, and domains whereas Google’s International Targeting only targets a specific country/region for the whole website in Google Webmaster Tools.
Verify Ownership is just a recap showing the three different methods on how to legitimize ownership of the website with a representation of a green circled check to prove that the website has indeed been verified in Bing Webmaster Tools.
Once again, this is another tool in which Bing Webmaster Tools excels! Bing understands that even though a website exists, there are social media accounts associated with it that, for whatever reason, may have been missed. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, MySpace, and LinkedIn: Bing Webmaster Tools has them all, including some of the obscure associations such as Microsoft Apps, Windows Phone, Google Apps, and iTunes. The trick is to ensure that there is a reference to the website on each of the connected pages, because Bing checks for them in order to be verified. If there is no mention of the website, then it isn’t verified.
Primarily associated with Windows and their phones, the App Linking tool assists websites in showing up in Windows Phone Apps. As mobile traffic is on the rise, this tool is a move into the right direction and puts it ahead of Google as they don’t have any kind of tool identical in Google Webmaster Tools.
In the notorious words of Captain Planet, “The power is yours!” The Users tool allows the Bing Webmaster Tools Administrator(s) to add additional users via their email address as well as set their roles. This method helps in quickly and easily adding users to Bing Webmaster Tools instead of going through the tedious process of verifying ownership. Once a user has been added, various stats can be reviewed such as the date they were added and the method of how they were added.
Bing may never dominate Google, but every leader has their moment in the sun before they are dethroned. If Bing does one day have its moment in the sun, it will be with their advancing tools such as Bing Webmaster Tools, which are still advancing with new and original features that help websites get discovered.