Webmaster Center blog Q&A

We’ve been really busy here at the Bing Webmaster Center blog team, pumping out new content on a regular basis to create a nice library of content on issues that matter to webmasters and online publishers. I thought I’d take a moment to catch my breath, pause on creating a new thematic article (or yet another multi-part series!) for SEM 101, and address some commonly asked questions in the blog comments.

Q: Why wasn’t my question in the blog comments answered?

A: Well, the Webmaster Center blog is really not the right place for such back and forth exchanges. In fact, at the end of each blog post, there is a reminder to post your questions and comments in the SEM forum. The collection of Webmaster Center forums are specifically designed and staffed to address your questions, so if you have a question for the Bing Webmaster Center team, please post it in the forums where you will get a reply. Now if you have a question for other webmasters, you can certainly post that to the blog comments, but even then, you may get better results from posting it in the forums.

Q: Why did my blog comment disappear?

A: As we truly value all the input we receive from the webmaster community, we are reluctant to delete any comments, but on occasion we have to. If a blog post comment is simply blank, includes profanity or obviously objectionable, business-inappropriate content, or is merely an off-topic advertisement for an external website (the basic definition of web spam), we delete those comments. In cases where the same comment is repeated multiple times in the same post by the same sender, we delete the redundancies but leave the original.

We love to get your feedback, and whether you like or hate our content, have a suggestion for clarifying a point or care to elaborate your own, related story, we’re really happy when you contribute to the community. Please continue to do so! But if your comment was deleted, there was a compelling reason for doing so. On rare occasions, we get someone who decides to post the same web spam comment across dozens of our posts simultaneously, sometimes even spanning beyond Webmaster and going into other Bing community blogs, such as Maps, Developer, Travel, or the main Search blog. I’ve seen a couple of instances where someone comment-bombed our blogs in a huge, redundant web spam blast. Those comments are all quickly deleted and those spammers are banned from posting again to the blogs. Seriously, who wants to read that junk?

Q: I added in my site’s URL in my blog comment. That’s good link building for my site (it’s coming from an authoritative site, after all), right?

A: Well, the basic intent of the idea is good. You do want to get as many high-quality, authoritative, inbound links as you can. That is one of the keys to improving your page rank of your site. But in this case, as so many blog commenters do this on a regular basis, the links entered in Bing blog comments are automatically created with the rel=”nofollow” attribute included in the anchor tag. This means that when search engines hit the blog page, the link using that attribute will not earn any inbound link credit for the referenced page. So sorry, folks, this one won’t count.

Make no mistake, earning high-quality inbound links is hard work. You need to get webmasters from authoritative sites to link to you (this is why link exchanges don’t help build page rank value). You usually do that by providing high quality content on your site that those webmasters value. But simply adding a URL to a blog comment is far from hard. And many websites make it a policy to add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to all visitor-generated content links because that content can be so hard to police. Who wants to allow a visitor to link out to web spam or malware? And who has time to police the quality of every user-generated link?

You had a good idea with good intentions. But in this case, it’s a waste of time to include your site’s URL if your goal is to get an authoritative inbound link.

Q: Why isn’t my site indexed yet?

A: This is exactly the sort of question you should post in the Webmaster Center’s Crawling/Indexing Discussion forum. The number of variables here that can affect the answer specific to your question is enormous, including:

  • the quality of your site’s content
  • the quantity and authoritative quality of your site’s inbound links
  • the ability of the search engine bot to discover and crawl your site’s content
  • the validity of the HTML code used
  • the age of your site
  • the freshness of the site’s content over time
  • whether or not malware was detected on your site
  • whether or not the content is judged to be web spam or duplicate content copied from other sites
  • whether your site violates the Bing search guidelines
  • and so much more

If you post this question in the Crawling/Indexing Discussion forum, our staff can look up your website’s index information and help determine what can be done to improve your situation. Take advantage of their expertise and resources for this and other similar questions!

Q: Do the search engine optimization (SEO) recommendations you give for Bing affect my SEO performance with other search engines?

A: Yes. They improve it! And of course, if you are actively performing legitimate, white-hat SEO activities for other search engines, it’ll also help you with Bing as well. The basic takeaway here is that SEO is still SEO, and Bing doesn’t change that. If you perform solid, reputable SEO on your website, which entails a good deal of hard work, creating unique and valuable content, earning authoritative inbound links, and the like (see our library of SEM 101 content in this blog for details), you’ll see benefits in all top-tier search engines.

But remember: SEO efforts ultimately only optimize the rank position that your site’s design, linking, and content deserves. It removes the technical obstacles that can impede it from getting the best rank it should. However, it won’t get you anything more than that. The most important part of SEO is doing the hard work of building value necessary to make your site stand out from the competing crowd of other websites for searchers.

One other thing to remember: there is a long tail in search. After the few obvious keywords used in a particular field, there are many, many more keywords used to a lesser degree that still drive a lot of traffic to various niches of that field. Instead of always trying to be number 1 in a highly competitive field for the obvious keywords and faltering, consider doing the work of finding a less competitive keyword niche in that same field and then do the hard work necessary to earn solid ranking there.

For more information on SEO and Bing, see our recent blog post, Search Engine Optimization for Bing.

Q: How do I submit a Sitemap to Bing?

A: There are a couple of ways to do this. If you have registered your site with Bing Webmaster Center tools, log into the site, select the site to use from the Site List page (webmasters can register multiple sites for one account), and then click the Sitemaps tab. From there, you can perform a direct Sitemap submission by typing the web address of your Sitemap file (such as www.example.com/sitemap.xml — be sure to omit the “HTTP://” protocol designation as it’s not needed here). If you have not yet registered your site with Webmaster Center (why not?) and you just want to submit your Sitemap file through your web browser using our Sitemap ping service, use the following URL:

http://www.bing.com/webmaster/ping.aspx?sitemap=add your Sitemap web address here

Again, leave off the “HTTP://” as it isn’t needed. For more information on using Sitemaps with Bing, see our Webmaster Center blog article, Uncovering web-based treasure with Sitemaps (SEM 101).

Q: Does Bing support sitemap index files?

A: Definitely. Bing supports Sitemaps with up to 50,000 entries, be they site URLs or, in the case of Sitemap index files, references to child Sitemap files. With a Sitemap index file containing 50,000 references to child Sitemaps, each of which containing 50,000 site URLs, your Sitemap strategy can reference up to 2.5 billion URLs. Let us know if you need more. :-)

For more information on Sitemap index file support, see the Webmaster Center blog post, Bing enhances support for large Sitemaps.

Q: I can’t find you anymore. Where did your blog recently move to? How do I get to it now?

A: The blog didn’t actually move (well, not since June, when Bing was introduced). We’re still at http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/webmaster/. But the extras menu in the Bing user interface was recently removed and all references to Webmaster Center, the Bing Community, and the Bing Webmaster Center blogs and forums, were migrated under the More link, found on both the Bing home page and the top left menu on other Bing pages. Some folks might have missed that. Please be sure to save the Webmaster Center blog to your browser favorites or, better yet, subscribe to our blog’s RSS feed.

Q: Why are your blog columns so long?

A: No reason.

Q: Thank you!

A: You’re welcome! We get this comment most of all, and I wanted to make sure we acknowledged our appreciation for your kind words and support.

As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post them in our SEM forum (or any of the other Webmaster Center forums as appropriate). Until next time…

— Rick DeJarnette, Bing Webmaster Center

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