An SMX sneak-peek at the new Bing Webmaster Tools

The wait is over (almost!). After gathering much appreciated feedback from our valued customers over the past year, the Bing Webmaster team held a session today at SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle where we showed a preview of the next version of Bing Webmaster Tools, our no-cost toolset for webmasters and search engine optimizers (SEOs). Bing Webmaster Tools were rebuilt from the ground up to offer more data, including a new user interface and enhanced charting functionality.

If you weren’t at SMX Advanced today, no worries. You’ll get your own opportunity to see the new tools in action yourself in the very near future.

What has changed?

Actually, a better question is “what didn’t change?” In short, we wiped the slate clean and started over. We prioritized key features webmasters wanted most. You spoke, and we listened.

Silverlight enhanced

The new Bing Webmaster Tools remain web-based, and basic functionality is available through most web browsers. But to achieve the full potential of the new Bing Webmaster Tools user experience, you’ll want to install Microsoft Silverlight 4.0. Silverlight is a browser plug-in (approximately 5 MB in size, installs in less than 10 seconds) that helps organizations design, develop, and deliver rich applications and experiences on the Web. Silverlight works across multiple browsers, platforms, and devices, including the Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.

Silverlight enabled our development team to provide a smooth, visual experience, enabling webmasters to better analyze important trends through connected visual data about their websites.

Tool features

The Bing Webmaster team chose to focus on three key areas of interest to webmasters: Crawl, Index, and Traffic. Each area will offer detailed data going back as far as six months with dynamic charting capabilities, enabling webmasters to focus on the timeline trends that are most meaningful to them.

A key, new feature to Bing Webmaster Tools is Index Explorer, a tree-view that enables webmasters to see at a glance all of the crawling and index data for their website. Each level in the tree view offers webmasters access to specific data management controls, such as URL blocking, cache blocking, and recrawl requests.

Bing Webmaster Tools has added a feature to Submit URLs that allows webmasters to send Bing a list of URLs that should be prioritized. URLs submitted through this tool will be recrawled or crawled and added to the index if not already included (as long as they are not employing malware or web spam techniques).

The Bing Webmaster Tools not only give webmasters control of what content to add to the Bing index, but the new Block URLs tool gives webmasters control over what content to block from the SERPs. Webmasters can choose to block cache links, block URLs to individual pages or whole containers of pages, or to even block their entire website from appearing in SERPs. The tool records a history of submitted blocks, and webmasters can easily reverse a block at any time.

Today’s demo

Eric and Sasi gave a live demo today of Index Explorer, showing not only how webmasters will be able to use the tool’s tree view control to see detailed data about their websites as gathered by the Bing crawler, but how they can also control the index data through blocks and recrawl requests.

For those of you couldn’t join us in person for the preview, keep your eye on the Webmaster Center blog. There will be more information coming soon on the new Bing Webmaster Tools, including the official release announcement and details about using the tools to learn more about your website from the Bing search engine perspective.

More to come

We are really excited to finally be able to talk about this project! But ultimately, it’s not about us. The new Bing Webmaster Tools are about you: helping you be more successful in search with more transparent tools that offer simplified, visual control; offering you more data over a longer period of time (six months!) to allow you to make better decisions; and providing a more intuitive and powerful user interface to help you get the most from the tools. And this is only the first step. Bing is committed to enhancing the tools on a regular basis to respond to webmaster needs. We will publish regular Webmaster Center blog posts to alert you to new releases and features, and answer your questions about the tools in the Webmaster Center forums. We look forward to having you join us — it’s going to be fun!

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

— Rick DeJarnette, Bing Webmaster Center