Today, we are releasing two new features in Bing Webmaster Tools. The first feature — the new Malware tool — helps you understand whether or not you site contains malware and also allows you to submit and track a “Malware Re-Evaluation” request. You can find the new Malware tool in the Reports & Data section. The second feature — Geo-Targeting — helps you provide Bing with information about the audience you are targeting with your site or a section of your site. You can find the Geo-Targeting feature under the Configure my Site section. Let’s look at both these features a bit more closely.
A New Malware Re-Evaluation Workflow
Every day, thousands and thousands of sites on the web — many of them owned by webmasters like yourself — are unknowingly infected by malware. Often, this happens because of some vulnerability that allowed a malware distributor or hacker to take control of the site. As a result, the security of unsuspecting visitors is at risk, too. Therefore, to protect our Bing users, we scan the web to look for web pages that have been infected. If Bing detects that a site is willingly or unwillingly serving malware, or contains harmful elements that put our searchers at risk, we will tell our users that the page they are about to visit from our results could be dangerous. In addition, the webmaster of the site receives a notification in the form of a Malware Alert in their Bing Webmaster Tools Message Center.
The new Malware tool provides information about the malware we detected on the site. Previously some of this information was encompassed in the Crawl Information tool, but with the new Malware tool you not only get access to more details that help you understand the nature of the issue, it also allows webmasters to submit and track a malware re-evaluation request once they have cleaned their site.
What happens when I submit the request?
Once you submit a request, you immediately can track the status and progress inside the Malware tool. During the review period, we will perform several deep re-scans to establish if the site is truly free of malware. It is therefore important that affected site owners take the utmost care to ensure that all harmful elements – not just those listed in the list of sample URLs – have been addressed. Also, any vulnerabilities and security holes that allowed the infection to occur should be plugged. It is important not to request a re-evaluation unless you have done this work first and established that you’re good to go: if the malware is found during the review period, the re-evaluation will fail and you will not be able to submit another re-evaluation request for some time. However, if we register several clean scans, you will get the “all clear” and the malware warning for your site will be removed from our search results pages.
Geo-Targeting Your Pages to Specific Country Audiences
In addition to the new Malware tool we are launching a new feature called Geo-Targeting. This tool allows you to provide Bing with information about the intended audience for your site or a section of your site. Whereas other Webmaster Tools let you geo-target sites only at the site level, Bing Geo-Targeting provides you with a more flexibility: multinational sites do not need to verify each section they want to geo-target separately. Instead, Bing allows you to define a country affinity for your entire website or for sections of your website from within a single view and from within a single site account. On top of that, you can geo-target your site on multiple levels:
- At the domain level: this option allows you to geo-target an entire domain to a specific country. This option is available to sites that are on so called “geo-targetable top-level domains”, such as .com, .org, .net. With a few exceptions, sites with country-code TLDs (ccTLD) will not be able to set a country-affinity at the domain level, as the ccTLD continues to provide the stronger hint. However, they will be able to use all of the following options as well.
- At the subdomain level: this option allows you to set a country affinity for an entire subdomain on your site. This is great option if you are using sub-domains on your site to segment your content by country, say http://nl.example.comfor the Netherlands.
- At the directory level: this option allows you to set a country affinity for a specific folder on your site. A great option if you are using country-specific directories or folders on your site, say http://www.example.com/italy/for Italy. All pages within the folder will be considered to be for your Italian audience.
- At the page level: for even more flexibility, you can define country affinity at the page level. This is a great option if you have a single landing page dedicated to visitors from a specific country. For example, a site in the Netherlands — hosted on the a .nl ccTLD — can designate a single page, say http://www.example.nl/willkommen-deutsche-gaeste.html to be targeted at a German audience .
(Note that when multiple geo-targeting rules apply to a page, we will use the most specific. In other words, the order of precedence is: page > folder > subdomain > domain)
When should I use Geo-Targeting?
You should use the Geo-Targeting feature for sites or sections of a site that have been created for an audience in a specific country. You generally don’t need to geo-target sites (or site sections) that are aimed at a global audience or that apply to multiple countries. If, for example, you have a multilingual site that has a German (language) section, you needn’t geo-target it specifically to Germany if you also are targeting other German-speaking audiences such as from Switzerland and Austria with the same content.
Once you have geo-targeted a site or site section, your input will be seen as a strong signal that adds to other signals we are already using one that gets stronger as we see more data. You should therefore start today and make sure to use the Geo-Targeting tool as an integral part of your long-term global SEO strategy.
Senior Program Manager
Bing Webmaster Tools