bingbot Series: Getting most of Bingbot via Bing Webmaster Tools

There are multiple features in Bing Webmaster Tools that allows webmasters to check Bingbot’s performance and issues on their site, provide input to Bingbot crawl schedules and check if that random bot hitting the pages frequently is actually Bingbot or not. 

In part 4 of our Bingbot series, Nikunj Daga, Program Manager for Bing Webmaster Tools, revisits some of those tools and features that assists webmasters in troubleshooting and optimizing Bingbot’s performance on their site. 

Crawl Information - Webmasters can get the data about Bingbot’s performance on their site in the Reports and Data section in Bing Webmaster Tools. The site activity chart present in this page can show an overlapping view of total pages indexed, pages crawled and pages where there were crawl errors for the last six months along with the Impressions and Clicks data. Through this chart, it is easier for webmasters to visually see whether the changes they made on their sites had any impact on page crawling.  

Further, in order to get more information on the pages with crawl errors, webmasters can go to the Crawl Information page. In this page, an aggregated count of the pages with different errors that Bingbot faced is provided along with the list of those URLs. This make it simple for webmasters to troubleshoot why a particular page that they are looking for in Bing is not appearing while searching. 

Crawl Errors – In addition to webmasters going and checking the Crawl Information page for crawl errors, Bing Webmaster Tools also proactively notifies the webmasters in case Bingbot faces significant number of issues while crawling the site. These notifications are sent on the Message Center in Bing Webmaster Tools. These alerts can also be sent through email to users who do not visit webmaster tools on a regular basis. So, it will not be a bad idea for webmasters to opt in for the email communication from Bing Webmaster Tools through the Profile Page.  Webmasters can set the preference for kind of alerts they want to receive emails for along with the preferred contact frequency. 

Further, Bingbot can face different kinds of errors while crawling a site, a detailed list of which along with their description and action can be found here

Crawl Control – The Crawl Control feature allows webmasters to provide input to the Bingbot about the crawl speed and timing for your site. It can be found under the “Configure My Site” section in Bing Webmaster Tools. Using this feature, you can set hourly crawl rate for your site and notify Bingbot to crawl slowly during peak business hours and faster during off peak hours. There are preset schedules to choose from based on the most common business hours followed across the globe. In addition to the preset schedules, webmasters also have the option to fully customize the crawl schedule based on their site’s traffic pattern. Customizing the crawl pattern is very easy and can be done by just dragging and clicking on the graph present in the Crawl Control feature. 

Fetch as Bingbot – The Fetch as Bingbot tool returns the code that Bingbot sees when it crawls the page. Webmasters can find this feature under the “Diagnostics and Tools” section to submit a request to fetch as Bingbot. Once the fetch is completed, the status will change from “Pending” to “Completed” and the webmasters will be able to see the code that appears to Bingbot when it tries to crawl the site. This is a useful feature for webmasters who use dynamic content on their sites and is the basic check if they want to see what data Bingbot sees among all the dynamic and static content on the site. 

Verify Bingbot - Found under the “Diagnostics and Tools” section in Bing Webmaster Tools, Verify Bingbot tool lets the webmasters check if the Bing user agent string appearing in the server logs are actually from Bing or not. This can help webmasters determine if someone is hiding their true identity and attacking the site by using Bing’s name. Further, it also helps webmasters who have manually configured IP to whitelist Bingbot on their server. Since Bing does not release the list of IPs, using this tool the webmasters can check whether the IPs allowed in the server belong to Bing and whether they are whitelisting the right set of IPs. 

Thus, it is evident that a lot can be done by webmasters to improve Bingbot’s performance on their site using the features in Bing Webmaster Tools. These features were developed and have evolved over the years based on feedback we receive from the webmaster community. So, login to Bing Webmaster Tools now to use the features and let us know what you think. 

Nikunj Daga
Program Manager, Bing Webmaster Tools