Yesterday I wrote a review about Bing and how this new search engine from Microsoft really impressed me.
Today I’ll be reviewing the new Bing Webmaster Center – www.bing.com/webmaster which is sort of like an all-in-one dashboard of the webmasters for the Bing Search Engine. Previously a similar version of the Webmaster Center was known as Windows Live Webmaster Center. Google and Yahoo both has similar dashboard – Google Webmaster Central & Yahoo Site Explorer.
What is Bing Webmaster Center?
Just like any other Webmaster dashboard, Bing webmaster center has many tools targeted towards the webmaster community that anyone can use to access his own website’s information & other useful details as recorded by Bing.
So if you are a webmaster and want to know how Bing is looking at your website, how its ranking your pages, which pages are more valued than others, what are your inbound & outbound links then this dashboard is a must have.
Why should you Signup for Bing Webmaster Center?
Previously most of the people never really bothered to optimize their pages for MSN/Live Search (which is now Bing). Due to the very small market share, Microsoft Search was never popular among the webmasters. However according to the Stat Counter’s global stat of search market share, Bing’s popularity seems to be growing exponentially as it has already overtaken Yahoo’s usual number #2 spot after Google.
Now you may say that this is probably because of the initial ‘hype’ and their expensive media advertisements, however if you read my Bing Review where I concluded that Bing is a pretty good alternative to Google, then you may think otherwise.
The main advantage of Bing would be its Mass reach to the general population. Do you know what is the very first thing people do when they buy a new computer? I remember reading an article where they had a huge list — Installing Anti Virus, Installing IM, Installing Firefox and somewhere in the middle of the list I remember reading “Changing the default search engine of IE back to Google!”. That didn’t strike me as odd even for a second, in fact if I were to make my own list, I think It would be ranked between #1 – 3.
Microsoft has a OS market share of over 90%, which all comes with Internet Explorer as their default browser. And when it comes to Browser market share, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has a market share close to 70%.
So you can imagine, if Microsoft’s new search engine Bing sucks even a bit less compared to their previous search versions – Live/MSN, many people may not bother to switch to Google or any other search provider for that matter. My first impression of Bing is – its going to stick, and Google is going to see a bit of competition after many years of market dominance.
So before everyone starts to realize that getting your site up in the Bing Search Engine has a lot of value for your business, you should start to look at some of the very basic things that you can do to make sure that bing is crawling and indexing your site properly and certainly there is no better way to monitor it than using their very own tool that they have provided to the community – Bing Webmaster Center.
How to Signup for Bing Webmaster Center?
Signing up with Bing Webmaster Center is very easy and FREE. The only thing that you will need is a Windows Live ID. Typically if you have a @hotmail.com, its already good enough. However, if you want you can also use @gmail.com or any other email address for that matter and make it a Windows Live ID.
Step 1: Go to http://www.bing.com/webmaster and Sign-in with your Windows Live ID
Step 2: Once you are inside the dashboard, you will need to add in your website. You will need to provide a web url (www.domain.com), your sitemap address (www.domain.com/sitemap.xml) and the webmaster’s email address for communication purpose.
Step 3: Once site has been successfully added, you will need to verify the ownership of their site by following any of the following verification method – Meta Tag Authentication ior XML file Authentication. Both the authentication is pretty simple and straight forward.
Step 4: After successful verification, you should be able to see your website listed in your dashboard.
What can Bing Webmaster Center do?
Currently, Bing Webmaster Center contains the following tools and features to support webmasters to access data and manage their websites on Bing:
1. Robot.txt Validation – This tool allows webmasters to check their robots.txt file for any incompatibilities with MSNBot that may affect how their site is indexed on Bing. Read more on Robot.txt Validation on bing.
2. HTTP Verifier – This tool basically lets you check whether your webserver has HTTP compression and conditional GET enabled to reduce bandwidth uses with browsers that support these technology. Read more about these features before you decide to play with them.
3. Site Summery – Bing Webmaster Center, also shows a nice site summary for each of your sites which includes – Last crawl date, total number of indexed pages, domain score, top 5 pages of your domain along with their page score crawl date and so on.
In case you are wondering what domain score is, its basically just 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. Similarly Page score is the same thing but instead of the domain level the measurement is done on the page level.
4. Crawl Issues – This section allows webmasters to find out about any issues Bing discovered while crawling and indexing your site. This information can really help you track down missing or bad links, find pages blocked from our index by your robots.txt file, identify URLs that may be too long, and isolate page with content-types that are not supported by Bing. You can read more on the crawl issues here.
5. Backlinks – This is definitely a very neat and useful tool. Since Google takes quite a while to update the backlinks, most of the webmasters depends quite a lot on Yahoo Site Explorer to check for inbound links. I found Bing’s Back link checker pretty handy and accurate. You can use this tool to find out which webpages (including your own) are linking to your site. This information can help you identify who is talking about your site, useful information for learning more about your potential audience or customer base. They also have a filtering option where you can exclude results from a domain or show only results from a single domain. You can also specify a domain (microsoft.com), a sub-domain (technet.microsoft.com), or a top-level domain (.com).
6. Outbound links – Just like the backlinks page, Outbound links page gives you information about web pages your site is linking to.
7. Keywords – Bing has a Keywords tool which basically shows you how your website performs against searches for a specific keyword or key phrase. This tool is useful for understanding how users (who often choose websites based on keywords searches) might find your website. You can use this keywords tool to e the Keywords tool to also get webpage scores for a keyword or key phrase. This tool enables you to evaluate the webpage score for a given keyword or key phrase for the webpages in your website. The webpage score is a measure of how often a webpage is returned when a user is searching based on that keyword or key phrase. You can easily review webpage scores for a given keyword or key phrase, type the keyword or key phrase in the Keywords box, and then click Search.
8. Sitemaps – You can use sitemaps to give Bing a list of URLs to index for your site. Simply enter the sitemap URL and click submit to send your sitemap to Bing. Bing also has a sitemap ping service which allows you to nudge bing whenever your site updates. To notify MSNBot when you change an existing sitemap or add a new one, enter the following in your browser:
http://www.bing.com/webmaster/ping.aspx?siteMap=[your sitemap web address]
And thats pretty much it! So what you waiting for? Sign up with Bing Webmaster Center now!