Don’t be Fooled: 8 Reasons You Need to be Spending More Time in Bing Webmaster Tools
It’s easy for us digital marketers to neglect Bing. I’m as guilty as the next SEO when it comes to spending a majority of my time in Google tools (Webmaster Tools, Analytics, Developer Tools, etc.), but recently I reached a point of no return. Google offers a ton of insights, but I found myself neglecting a large chunk (yes, 15-20% is a large chunk) of traffic insights and data by not spending more time in Bing.
Regardless of your personal preference for engines, Bing and Yahoo! are still a large share of search traffic (with Baidu on the rise). Your site, or client’s site, could be losing out by not paying more attention to what is going on within these engines.
Why should you spend more time in Bing Webmaster Tools? Beyond the fact that, combined, Yahoo! and Bing probably account for the second most visits from search for your site, these two engines can tell us some distinct things about traffic that Google doesn’t because of audience segments and search patterns. This is increasingly true for travel and hospitality industries, where data is showing a larger percentage of users over the age of 45. The demos utilizing Bing and Yahoo! may have more value than you think. To bring your organic efforts to the next level, bring Bing Webmaster Tools into your arsenal, and you’ll find it’s far more useful than you think.
1. Is your site even in Bing Webmaster Tools?
You’d be surprised by how many people neglect to register their site in Bing WT but immediately set their site up in Google Webmaster Tools. At it’s most basic level, having your site in Bing functions very similarly to Google: it let’s the engine know you want the site to be crawled and how to crawl it. Registering and verifying your site is done the same way as Google, so you should have no reason to do it, unless you don’t want more traffic.
Within a week of adding our site to Bing WT, we climbed 96 positions to #5. this is an extreme example of growth, but by simply adding the site to the tool, we were able to see big gains in rankings and in traffic.
2. Link Explorer for those on a tight budget
The standard for agencies has become analyzing backlink data through tools like Majestic SEO or Moz. For many people, budgeting money for those sort of tools is just unrealistic. Bing WT offers a great tool called Link Explorer that functions very similarly to these tools, for FREE. Found under the Diagnostics & Tools dropdown, this tools features the ability to filter both internal and external links by keyword, anchor text, and referring domain. The data is very responsive and can be generated for relatively new URLs with ease. Another benefit of this tool is that it allows you to examine backlinks to pages you don’t own, making competitive analysis easier.
3. Validate your markup
Bing’s Markup Validator is a great tool to check which of your markups appear to the engines. This is especially useful if you’ve implemented a new set of structured data for a page, but you’re not sure if you placed the code correctly. In comparison to Google’s tool, which does a good job of bulk crawling and error notifications, this tool is much stronger for a page by page one-off analysis.
4. Connect your off-site properties for more search data
While it’s still limited to Bing and Yahoo! properties, using the Connected Pages tab can give you more insights into your web properties and search impressions. This gives you a good understanding of your off-site presence and what you can do to further optimize your social channels like YouTube, or if you have apps, how those perform in search for Windows, Android, and Apple stores.
5. Index Explorer
This is a great tool that organizes your pages in a visible map similar to Screaming Frog, but you can filter for a variety of errors beyond the basic 404, 401, 301, 301 and 500 levels you get in Google WT. This is a great way to see how the engines view the structure of your site, and an easy way to filter for errors. From this page, you can also re-crawl a page if you think it has been improperly marked with an error from the engine. Use this with the Crawl Information tool in Bing and you can identify some high-level redirects and prioritize if you have limited resources.
6. SEO Reports
This section of Bing WT has its bonuses, particularly because it picks up on SEO related errors that aren’t often found. Particularly, this report does a great job of catching missing image ALT attributes (tags) along with a few others. This is particularly handy when you compare this side by side with your Google Webmaster Tools HTML Improvements. These two tools can be used in a complimentary fashion to catch a majority of errors.
7. SEO Analyzer
This page is great if you’re not running the MOZ or another SEO plug-in and want to do a page analysis. this tool can detect any error, and it’s not limited to just your website. Plug a competitor site into it and see where they are succeeding or failing. This should be limited to more one-off analysis, but it’s great for one-off ad-hoc page optimizations. and can identify the exact code error, as well as offer a recommendation for the fix.
8. Track and verify your certificates for SSL
We should preface this by saying that Bing’s tracking of HTTP and HTTPS is uniform and only needs to be verified once. Google requires a webmaster to verify HTTP and HTTPS separately, which can be a bit of a pain to set up. Bing offers an easy way to track your security certificate. The function of the Track Certificates tool identifies the issuer, when it was first seen, last seen and when it will expire. This is a good way to track for webmasters who may not have direct access to the certificate provider. It will also identify unverified certificates, should someone have hacked your site and installed malware, which you can then send to Microsoft to report directly.
Where does Bing Webmaster Tools fall short?
Looking at Page Traffic report isn’t as granular as Google Analytics or Adobe Analytics (SiteCatalyst, Omniture) and the keyword data is limited to brand. Bing WT is also limited in comparison to Google when it comes to mobile insights. While Google has been vocal about their Mobile Algorithm, Bing has yet to take a stance, or offer anything tool wise that will improve your site’s mobile experience. Because Bing WT sources data from Bing and Yahoo!, it will never have the level of data that Google has, but it still gets you closer to identifying a bigger piece of the search pie.
Overall, Bing WT offers a lot of tools in one, simple place. While I still recommend other tools for some advanced SEO tasks, I think Bing offers a great product with valuable data that can be a big boost for businesses and SEOs looking to move the needle with their organic traffic.