For recent SEO hires or webmasters of small businesses or start-ups, the conversation around ad support and organic search for Bing is one that should happen with heavy consideration. Google’s search at this point is known quantity. Every so often, the company will throw a slight curve ball to keep search results relevant. But, for the most part, SEO gurus are becoming well versed navigating the choppy waters of search advertisement and organic listings via Google. However, here in the US, very few SEO specialist take the second most used search engine seriously.
Perhaps after reading Search Engine Land’s contributing writer, John E. Lincoln's exhaustive breakdown of Bing’s Webmaster Tools, people may find Bing to be more useful than they thought. Lincoln’s comprehensive guide is a descriptive 3,500-word overview of the tools Bing offers webmasters and SEO specialist, that perhaps, many didn’t know the search engine had to offer. For the robust details, please read his piece. I will, however, pull some nuggets of interest from the lengthy post, which might peak the interest of people on the fence about working with Bing’s webmaster tools.
Adding & Verifying A Website
Adding a site to Bing Webmaster Tools is easy. After logging in, enter the URL for your site’s home page and click the “Add” button. From there, you’ll be directed to a screen to enter basic information and a sitemap URL. But before you can begin maintaining your site and viewing data, the website must be verified. After adding a site, “Verify Now” will appear, giving you three options for verification. The first option involves XML File Verification, where the “BingSiteAuth.xml” file will need to be downloaded and placed in the root directory of the website. The second option allows for meta tag verification by inserting the custom line of code provided by Bing into the homepage of your site. Finally, there’s DNS verification, which involves a bit more technical skill than the previous two methods. You’ll need access to your hosting to edit the CNAME record to hold the verification code. After verification, expect that it will take 1-2 days for Bing to collect and display data for newly added sites. This allows time for indexing and crawling.
Once your website has been verified, you’ll be able to access its Site Dashboard from the My Sites page. Site Dashboards offer an overview of your recent site activity in Bing, a list of sitemaps you’ve submitted, your top organic search keywords, your top inbound links, and a small drop-down menu of URL diagnostic tools. You can click through to see more comprehensive data on any of these sections or use the left navigation to explore additional reports and tools.
Bing has a feature similar to Google’s site links, known as Deep Links. These are the links that appear beneath top-ranked search results, linking directly to various landing pages within the site.
Essentially, Deep Links allow for more visibility in search results by offering more content options for users to select. While you don’t have the ability to add Deep Links (they are automatically generated based on what content Bing deems most important), you can block specific URLs from being Deep Linked within search results.
Bing allows brands to associate websites with their corresponding social media accounts using the Connect Pages feature. Simply add the URLs for the specified social media accounts and select “verify.” Once you’ve completed the verification process, you’ll then be able to view the impressions and click data from the dashboard of the connected pages.
Page Traffic Reports
The Page Traffic report displays page-level search performance metrics for your top pages in organic search, including clicks from search, impressions, click-through rate, and more — all of which can be exported into an Excel file.
Additionally, there’s a “View” hyperlink at the end of each row that opens a pop-up window showing detailed information on which keywords drove organic search traffic to that page. When viewing the search keyword details, you can expand the data by clicking the + symbol to see how the URL has performed for the keyword phrase and the ranking position of each.
Crawl Information Report
The Crawl Information tab provides a deeper view into the crawl errors occurring on your site. By clicking on the number under the error alert, you’ll see a list of URLs returning that particular status code or error. These alerts will help you understand why Bing is having difficulty accessing your content, which can alert you to potential issues.
Crawl ReportCommon issues Bing will report include:
- HTTP Status Code Errors
- Malware Infections
- Excluded by Robots.txt
- DNS failure
- Connection Errors
John’s list goes on. What webmasters and SEO specialist should take away from this, is the potential Bing has to offer. Bing’s benefits aren’t only measure in the tools it has to offer but the potential reach the often scoffed at, search engine has. With a new AOL deal,being the default search in Safari and Siri on iOS and having center placement in various Windows 10 services and apps, Bing could quickly represent a much larger stake in search, soon.