Webmaster Center blog comments Q&A, Round 2

We still get many questions in our blog comments, even though we try to encourage our readers to post their questions to our Webmaster Center forums (which are actually staffed to answer your questions!). I do look through the blog comments every day and delete those that are junk (those that are empty, duplicated, offensive, and overtly spammy – see our Q&A reply on why blog comments are deleted in the 1st Webmaster Center blog Q&A post). But I don’t always get a chance to address the individual questions posted there.

Since so many folks still ask questions in the blog comments, it’s just easier to aggregate them and address them en masse in a post. And if reading this Q&A inspires you to ask additional questions, please do so in the forums, where you’re more likely to get an intelligent and expedient response!

That all said, let’s get to it:

Q: When will the IIS SEO Toolkit come out of beta?

A: That’s already done! Version 1.0 of the IIS SEO Toolkit went live on Friday, November 13th. Note that you can install the official 1.0 release without needing to uninstall the beta version first. We’ll be covering more about the latest release of the IIS SEO Toolkit in upcoming articles in this blog. Stay tuned!

Q: Is there any way I can run the IIS SEO Toolkit in Windows XP?

A: The IIS SEO Toolkit has a core dependency of running as an extension to Internet Information Service (IIS) version 7 and higher. Unfortunately, IIS 7 itself won’t run directly on Windows XP, so as a result, neither will the IIS SEO Toolkit. However, you can run the toolkit in Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (and higher — you may need to first upgrade the default version of IIS to 7.0), Windows 7 (which comes with IIS 7.5 by default), and for those who like to run Windows Server as their desktop OS, Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2008 R2.

Q: I use Apache on Linux as my web server platform – can I still use the IIS SEO Toolkit to probe and analyze my site?

A: Absolutely, as long as your computer workstation is running any of the compatible Windows platforms listed in the previous question’s answer. You see, the IIS SEO Toolkit is designed to be used as a client-side tool. Once the toolkit is installed on an IIS 7-compatible computer, you can analyze any website, regardless of which web server platform the probed website itself is running.

Q: How do you install IIS SEO Toolkit version 1.0? The beta 1 installation was so tiresome and complicated.

A: The version 1.0 release has improved all that. Give the v1.0 installation a try! And remember: you can install version 1.0 over an earlier beta installation if need be, so it’s really easy to do now (as long as your computer can run IIS 7).

Q: Now that MSNBot 1.1 has been replaced with MSNBot 2.0b, will there be any visible differences to the untrained eye?

A: Not at all, unless you use that “untrained” eye to read through your web server’s referrer logs. If you do, you’ll note that when you are crawled by Bing, you’ll now only see references to the following user agent:

msnbot/2.0b (+http://search.msn.com/msnbot.htm)

The old bot, version 1.1, has left the room.

Q: When will MSNBot 2.0 retire for Googlebot?

A: Ah, a funny! That was a good one. :-)

Q: Bing’s Webmaster Center tools say my site has malware on it, but Google’s does not. Whom do I trust?

A: No news is not necessarily a validation of cleanliness when it comes to malware detection. The absence of a positive report from a third-party service could actually be a false negative because you don’t control the scanner’s rules, what content is scanned, and how often the scanning is done.

You always need to be diligent about regularly checking for malware on your website yourself, regardless of whom else might be scanning your site. However, if you do receive warnings about detected malware on your website from a trusted and reliable source, it behooves you to look into the matter a bit deeper, just to be sure. Check out our four-part series of posts in this blog called “The merciless malignancy of malware” for more information on what to do and how to do it. Good luck!

Q: I clicked a link in a Bing search engine results page (SERP) that popped up a message box that said something about the site containing malware. Can I just ignore that?

A: That’s not a good idea. Bing will disable the normal “blue link” in its SERPs to a page that was detected to contain malware, substituting instead the following malware pop-up message when the link is clicked:

The warning message was put there for your protection. Yes, you can opt to click through the warning message and go to the site, but that course of action puts your computer at serious risk of infection.

To understand more about what Bing does with its malware warnings and what to do when you see one (or worse yet, when your users report that they get it for your links in the Bing SERPs!), check out the blog post, The merciless malignancy of malware Part 1.

Q: What is the name of the publisher/sponsor of Bing?

A: Bing is one of the many products and services offered by Microsoft Corporation of Redmond, Washington. Perhaps you’ve heard of us.

Q: I liked your articles on keywords usage in Bing. How are keywords best used in Google and Yahoo ads?

A: Hmmm. You might want to ask Google and Yahoo about that.

Q: Will paid links or link exchanges really get my site to the top ranking?

A: Nope. You can buy search ads from Microsoft, but neither the presence nor the absence of those pay-per-click advertisements have any influence in where your site ranks in the Bing SERPs. (Although if you bid well in Microsoft adCenter, you will likely earn more business as your site’s link will show up under the Sponsored sites list on the Bing SERPs).

But let’s be clear on this. Paying for or participating in link exchange schemes will not improve your page rank with Bing, and in fact, it could very well hurt it. What will ultimately improve your page rank is creating great content, earning inbound links from relevant, authoritative websites, and performing legitimate SEO on your site. If you build your site with a focus on helping people find great information, you’ll be on the right track for earning the highest rank your site deserves.

Q: What secret trick can I do to quickly increase the rank of my site’s pages on Bing?

A: Well, it’s actually the same trick used for other search engines. Get a rubber chicken, swing it around your head in a circle three times at a 14 degree angle off parallel from the ground (the high point of the circle pointing to the northwest). Follow that up by performing legitimate search engine optimization (SEO) techniques as noted in the answer to the preceding question. Note that the rubber chicken step may not be applicable in all locations. 😉

Q: Is the information from the Webmaster Center Crawl Issues tool available through the Bing API?

A: Unfortunately, it is not. You’ll have to engage the tool directly to access this data.

Q: I found a broken link in your post. Will you fix it?

A: I will if you tell me about it!

Q: What does it mean to “404” a page”?

A: HTTP error 404 is presented when a URL no longer leads to a file to display in a browser at the listed path and file name referenced. This may happen because the page file was moved, renamed, deleted, the server is offline, or because the URL itself contains an error. To 404 a page means simply to take it down, make it inaccessible. For more information on 404 File Not Found errors (and how to customize them for customers visiting your site), check out our recent blog article titled, Fixing 404 File Not Found frustrations (SEM 101).

Q: How do I request that Bing remove a bad link to my website?

A: Leave a message on the Webmaster Center’s Crawling/Indexing Discussion forum. As long as you own the site hosting the page with the bad link, we can help by deleting the content from the index, the cache, or both. If you don’t own the page with the link, then that becomes a bit more tricky…

If the erroneous inbound link is on a site you don’t own or control and the URL at least references the correct domain name, consider creating a custom 404 message that will help the folks find the content they want once they arrive on your site. If you have a page that would be a perfect match for the broken link, you might even consider implementing a 301 redirect if the domain name is correct but the file name referenced in the broken inbound link does not exist.

Q: I submitted a link to my new website earlier today and it’s still not showing up in Bing! Why not?

A: It’s impossible to comment with any certainty on a particular case without knowing the specific issues involved, but the solution might be as simple as waiting just a little bit longer! But after a few days have passed, if you still have specific questions about this process, then please feel free to leave a message on the Webmaster Center’s Crawling/Indexing Discussion forum and we’ll look into it.

Q: I can’t find how to navigate to Webmaster Center anymore from the Bing home page. What happened to the More link?

A: The November 11 update changed the user interface of the Bing home page just a tad, so now you need to click the EXPLORE link on the home page to see the Bing at a glance page. On all other Bing pages, the More link is still there (in the list of menu links across the top right of the page). See our blog post Changes to Bing, UI navigation to Webmaster Center for more details.

That’s it for now! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to post them in our SEM forum. I’ll be back soon with another SEM 101 article. Until then…

— Rick DeJarnette, Bing Webmaster Center