Just today bing.com, Microsoft’s new search engine, has launched. Surely you have already checked out the search results and checked positions of your favorite keywords. But have you also checked out all the tools Microsoft now offers webmasters to analyze their websites?
Verify Ownership Of Your Website
Just go to the Bing Webmaster Center and click on the “Add a site” button to add your website. In the form that is shown enter the URL of the website you wish to add. Bing even allows you to provide an email address ” to contact you if [they] encounter specific issues with your site” which sounds very interesting because Google does not provide that feature. Only the following weeks and months will show what the result of using that email feature will be.
After submitting the form you have to add some verification code to your site (or your server). In contrast to Google which only requires you to create an empty file with a specific name Microsoft wants you to add an XML file to your server which a specific content. You can also choose to add a META tag to your site but I recommend using the XML file because it’s much simpler – you only need to upload it once to your server whereas you’d have to add the META information to the homepage template.
After you have added the META tag to your homepage or uploaded the XML file click on the “Return to list” button. You’ll see your website in the list. Just click on the domain name.
Bing will access your website immediately and check for both the META tag or the XML file. If you have done everything correctly you will be taken to the site summary page which provides a wealth of information on your site as seen by Bing.
Site Summary And Domain Score
The site summary shows you when your site was last crawled by the Bing crawler, the number of indexed pages, whether Bing has been blocked from accessing your site (if you have blocked it via the robots.txt file for example) and a domain score which is shown as five boxes. Microsoft writes here:
“Domain Score provides a measurement of how authoritative Bing views your domain to be, with five green boxes being the highest rating and five empty boxes being the lowest. This is based on many of the same factors Bing uses to determine static rank, but isn’t directly comparable.”
Luckily this blog has a domain score of 5/5 at the time of writing.
Bing also shows you the top 5 pages of your site.
When selecting “Profile” from the top navigation you can change the settings you have already seen when you added your site. You can also see the current verification method Bing is using to verify your site ownership.
This section shows you crawling issues that may have occurred on your site such as pages that Bing could not find (404 error) or pages blocked by the robots.txt file.
It also shows you a list of long dynamic URLs Bing has flagged because they think it might lead the crawler into an infinite loop trying to crawl the dynamic URLs and may also lead to duplicate content.
The Crawl Issues page also tells you whether the crawler found pages on your site which it believes to be infected with malware or using unsupported content types.
The backlinks page shows you all of the backlinks Bing has found to your domain together with the page score, language and region of the page linking to your content. I really like the inclusion of the page score because it may be used to find “bad neighborhoods” linking to your site although Microsoft says that the score isn’t directly comparable.
The page will only show the first 20 backlinks but you can download the complete list as a CSV file to your system.
This page will show you all of the links on your site Bing has found that are leading to other websites. Just like on the backlinks page it shows you the page score, language and region as well and even allows you to show your outbound links to malware sites – let’s hope you don’t have any on your site.
Just like before you can also download the complete list as a CSV file.
Interestingly all of the links on my page leading to Twitter (the source of which is a Twitter plugin for WordPress which shows the latest tweets on my blog) have a page score of 5/5. Does that mean that Bing sees Twitter as an authoritative site?
This page allows you to see “how your site performs in search results for searches using specific keywords” although I don’t quite understand the results. You can enter a keyword in the text field provided and it will show you the page on your site, the page score of that page and once again the language, region, last crawl date and whether the Bing crawler was prevented from accessing the page.
It is interesting but I had expected to see SERP positions for the given keyword which would be a great feature. Entering “wolframalpha” shows a page score of 5 for my article on WolframAlpha yet when searching for “wolframalpha” on bing.com that page is not listed in the first 100 results.
More (Not So) Interesting Stuff
You can also add your sitemap directly by clicking on the Sitemaps tab.
The “Related Tools” section in the navigation on the left side lists some links that sound interesting at first but in my opinion they are a bit disappointing. If you thought that by clicking on the Robots.txt validator link you would be able to analyze the robots.txt file for your current site you’re wrong. You can copy the contents of any robots.txt file there to check it for incompatibilites with the MSNBot but that’s all. Slightly disappointing.
Likewise the HTTP Verifier and Keyword Research Tool links lead you directly to the default pages on the Microsoft website.
I recommend that you add your site(s) to the Bing Webmaster Center so that you can access the interesting statistics they provide – I’m sure many more tools will be provided in the future.
You should also check out the forum for many interesting discussions.
I’m amazed that Microsoft provides these features just from the launch day on.
We’ll see what else will be provided in the future.