Bing Smart Search Page Preview Tool Arrives in Bing Webmaster Tools

In the wake of the release of Windows 8.1 we are releasing a new tool inside Bing Webmaster Tools that helps web publishers manage the page previews that are shown in one of 8.1’s new features: Bing Smart Search. Using the Page Preview tool, which you can find in the Configure My Site section, you can now view, block, or a refresh of the page preview image shown for a given page on your website in the Bing Smart Search results.

Bing Smart Search: A New Search Result Page with Page Previews

Windows 8.1 contains a new search feature called Bing Smart Search. Smart Search organizes search results in a clean, graphic manner, with rich answers for the top queries and page preview images for the results. These page preview images are generated by loading the HTML we already crawled for the “regular” web result into a headless browser — a browser that can process pages in an automated fashion without a visual user interface — and storing a thumbnail of the page in our index. For example, when searching for “Bing Smart Search” in Windows 8.1, the results will not only show the usual title and description for a page in the results, but also a thumbnail to give you an idea of what you’re getting before you tap or click:

Bing Smart Search Screen Capture


Naturally, as a content publisher you are going to have a vested interest in the visual representation of your pages in our search results, in the same way that you care about your titles and descriptions. One thing to know is that, in most cases, all we need is the HTML we already crawled using our regular web crawler (Bingbot) to create the page preview image. However, if we need to generate a preview image on the fly — for example, based on a user request for a page for which we do not have a thumbnail in our cache — or if we need to fetch additional files to generate a high-fidelity screen capture, we use specialized crawler that identifies itself as BingPreview/1.0b. For the best possible images, make sure to not disallow this user agent access to your pages and to always show the same content to this crawler as to Bingbot and regular users.

When You Need Help

Bing always tries to generate high quality images, but there can be cases when the page preview image didn’t turn out as well as it could have. In those cases, you might want to request us to update or refresh the image to see if this improves. In other cases, the page preview may contain information that is (or was) present on the page, but that was erroneous or contained information that shouldn’t have been published in the first place. In this case you may request a temporary block of the page preview image. To do this, we are adding another powerful tool to your Webmaster tool belt: the Page Preview tool.

Page Preview Tool in Bing Webmaster Tools



Available Actions in the Page Preview Tool

If you are simply interested to see what image we have in our index, simply navigate to the tool, enter the URL of the page for which you would like to see the preview image in the Preview URL text box and click or tap Fetch. You will now see the image we currently have in our index by, along with the exact date and time we last updated it. If we don’t have an image in our cache, we will go and fetch it on demand. Once you have loaded the page preview image, you can click Cancel if you are done or you can chose to perform one of the two available additional actions:

  1. Block the image: blocks the image from the search result for up to 90 days, giving you plenty of time to fix content issues
  2. Request a refresh of the image: instructs Bing to try to grab a new image from the page when you have already fixed issues but the current image is outdated

In both cases you can add a reason for the request which helps us analyze our service over time.  Once you click Submit you will send the request to Bing. In most cases these will be completed and reflected in our index within 24 hours. Note that all Page Preview Blocks that are currently active will be shown in the Page Preview blocks table lower on the page. Active Page Preview Blocks can be either removed or extended to the maximum expiry window of 90 days from today at any given time.

Are you eager to find out what your page previews look like in Bing Smart Search? Log into Webmaster Tools now and find out or go our Page Preview help article to learn more today!

Vincent Wehren

Senior Program Manager – Bing Webmaster Tools


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