Cool tips and hot tricks for the new Bing Webmaster Tools, Part 2

In my last post, I started digging in to the many great new features offered in the new Bing Webmaster Tools. We have so much to talk about that I needed two posts to cover it! Let’s get right back in the saddle and ride this horse back home.

Note: As in the Tips and Tricks Part 1 post, the features I discuss here are primarily based on the Silverlight version of the new Bing Webmaster Tools. While there is a basic, down level version of the tools available, the Silverlight version offers greatly enhanced functionality and is the recommended way to get the full effect the tool’s rich index data offerings and advanced features for your website.

Add more of your URLs to the index

Have you just published important, new content pages to your site that you want to quickly bring to the attention of the Bing crawler? Bing Webmaster Tools now enables you to address that. From the Index tab, go to the Submit URLs tool and begin adding those URLs. Add each full URL on its own line, separated by pressing ENTER. Click Continue when you are done adding URLs so you can confirm the proposed URLs. If everything looks good, click Submit. Otherwise, if one or more of the URLs are not correct, click Cancel and redo your submissions. Note that you can even submit URLs already in the index (we’ll recrawl them)-this is the same function as Recrawl URL in Index Explorer.

Please note that Bing will evaluate all URLs submitted for indexing. If we discover the use of web spam techniques or malware infections, those submissions will be rejected.

As with the Recrawl URLs feature mentioned in the Part 1 post, the Submit URLs feature is not limitless. Bing does set quota limits on the number of URLs that can be added and/or recrawled (both apply to the same quota). You can submit up to 10 URLs per day and up to 50 per month. The quotas are in effect for entire domains. Multiple webmaster accounts for the same domain cannot combine their quotas to get more URL submissions. Bing also disallows submitting redirected pages to a site already at full quota.

Also, note that the daily quota limit resets after midnight GMT, at which point you can resume adding more URLs (provided you have enough monthly quota left).

Got errors?

When we crawl a site, we see everything about it, warts and all. Wouldn’t you like to know when we detect errors or problems? We thought so. Check out the Crawl Details tool on the Crawl tab. Crawl Details is a customized version of Index Explorer, dedicated to quickly showing you the problems we encountered when crawling your site. At a glance, you’ll see if we encountered any issues such as the following:

  • Missing pages or broken URLs
  • Server errors
  • Server redirects (including specific instances of 302s, which are often mistakenly used when 301s are more appropriate)
  • Malware infections
  • Pages excluded by robots.txt

You see how many pages are affected by each issue, and can then click the error name to see a list of all affected pages. This is also a great benefit for the site owner, because s/he can resolve or fix issues that are preventing content from being properly indexed.

Sitemap submissions

Did you just update your XML-based Sitemap file? Assuming you’ve already submitted your Sitemap file to Bing, resubmit the updated file using the Add Sitemap feature of the Sitemaps tool on the Crawl tab to bring it to our attention. We support multiple Sitemap files per site, and for very large sites that require multiple Sitemaps just to list all of their valuable content, we also support Sitemap index files as well.

If you haven’t yet submitted a Sitemap file to Bing, consider doing so. Sitemaps are great tools for webmasters to highlight the most important content on their site to search engines. Help us find your best content with a Sitemap! To do so, log in to the tools, click a registered site in the Home tool, click the Crawl tab, click Sitemaps in the left nav pane, click Add Sitemap, enter the Sitemap URL, and then click Submit.

See your top queries in live action

Do you wonder how searchers are finding your site in the Bing SERPs? We can tell you. Go to the Traffic tab and see the Queries table, where you’ll find the top queries driving traffic to your site. Click on any of those queries to go to new Bing SERP so you can see where your link currently ranks for that query.

What if I don’t want to use Silverlight?

There will be folks who, for whatever reason, either technically cannot or personally do not want to install Silverlight, the technology platform on which our new tools are built. Is this a deal-breaker? Not necessarily. Bing has offered a basic, down-level web experience for those users. Let me tell you what you CAN do with the basic version of the tools:

  • Register a site, for which Bing will retain at least the default page in the index.
  • Submit URLs to Bing (within quota limits)
  • Add Sitemap files to your site for more efficient and targeted crawling

OK, so this is good. But what will you miss out on? Aside from the plethora of site data reports covering clicks, impressions, pages indexed, pages crawled, and top index queries, there’s access to webmaster messages, advanced tool functionality, and more. Here’s the list:

  • Chart data and up to six months of historical trend information
  • Count of total URLs in index (available by directory)
  • Block URLs feature (and block reversals)
  • Index Explorer’s detailed filtering capabilities to see details of how your site was indexed
  • Crawl error reports
  • Malware infection reports
  • URLs blocked by your robots.txt file
  • Last crawled date and HTTP code for each indexed page
  • Sitemap validation status
  • Much more

Dig in!

The best way to find out what’s in the new tools is simply to sign in, register a site, and dig in. Rest assured that this iteration of the Bing Webmaster Tools is not an endpoint, but instead is just the beginning of a deeper commitment to webmasters and SEOs by Bing. We have a lot of exciting things scheduled for 2010, so stick with us, use our tools, read the blog, participate in the forums, and provide us with your feedback to help us make our Webmaster Center offerings even better yet.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about the tools, feel free to post them in our Webmaster Tools & Feature Requests forum. Later…

— Rick DeJarnette, Bing Webmaster Center