Bing doesn’t have the brand cachet of Google, but neglecting the traffic that it generates can be a big mistake.
Bing Webmaster Tools may lag behind the popularity of Google Search Console, but you may be surprised at the range of features it offers.
If you want to draw traffic to your site, using Google is a no-brainer.
But Bing should be in your arsenal of tools too.
In order to grab every bit of search engine traffic that’s available to you, you need to get down with Bing.
Google attracted 92% of the global search engine market share, while Bing draws in 2.4%.
Bing also powers Yahoo’s search, which made up 1.4% of the market share. Combined, that’s nearly 4%.
It may seem like a paltry number compared to Google, but think about how many eyeballs it represents.
Read on to learn all about Bing Webmaster Tools and how to use it for your business.
Note: Bing Webmaster Tools is rolling out a new dashboard as you’re reading this. I will update this post once the dashboard is released.
What You’ll Learn About Bing Webmaster Tools
So what’s the 411 on Bing? It’s all here.
I’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get started with the tool, where it differs from Google Search Console, and how to use it to root out issues and make your site perform better.
I’ve divided this article into sections to make it easier for you to read:
- My Sites
- Add a Site
- Reports & Data
- Diagnostics & Tools
- Copyright Removal Notices
- Translator Widget
- Bing Places for Business
- Bing News PubHub
- Bing Manufacturer Center
- Bing Solutions
- What’s Next for Bing Webmaster Tools
The first thing you see when logging in to Bing Webmaster Tools is the My Sites page.
Here, you can access your websites in the platform, see all of the sites you’ve set up, and quickly jump to other sections of the tool.
On GSC, users can toggle between sites from the upper left corner of the Dashboard.
Add a Site
Adding a site to BWT is pretty easy.
Unlike GSC, there are only a few options, but they all get the job done.
Type in your URL.
Then you’ll be taken to a screen that asks you to add your sitemap and the most popular time of day for your site.
The next step is to verify that you’re the owner of the site you’re adding.
BWT offers three ways to do this:
- XML file authentication: Download a custom XML file and upload it to your root directory.
- Meta tag authentication: Copy and paste a custom <meta> tag to your site’s homepage.
- Add CNAME record to DNS: Edit your site’s CNAME record with a custom verification code.
If your site has already been verified by Google, Bing has a beta feature that allows you to import it easily.
Once you’ve added and verified a site, you can go straight to your dashboard by clicking on the site on the “My Sites” page.
The dashboard gives you an at-a-glance view of your site’s performance.
The first section, Site Activity, shows clicks, search appearances, pages crawled, crawl errors, and pages indexed.
At the top of this list, you can see the percentage change over the period you searched.
The next section, Sitemaps, shows you the sitemaps you’ve submitted to Bing.
Submitting a sitemap makes it easy for Bing to crawl and index your site.
It’s another one of the reasons why you should use BWT.
Why leave it to chance, when you can be proactive?
You can also submit a new sitemap right from the dashboard. More on that below.
Below Sitemaps, there are two sections: Search Keywords and Inbound Links, both of which are pretty self-explanatory.
You can easily see which search queries and websites (that aren’t your own) are driving traffic to your site.
Finally, you have the Diagnostics & Tools section. This is where you can put on your detective hat and learn more about how Bing views your site:
- Fetch as Bingbot lets you see how the page’s code appears to Bing.
- Markup Validator shows you any structured markup Bing found on the page.
- SEO Analyzer shows you areas that could use some improvement in terms of SEO best practices.
You’ve probably noticed that BWT’s dashboard is more information-rich than GSC’s. GSC shows three large graphs:
To access the more detailed information that BWT’s dashboard provides, you have to use the left menu bar to drill deeper within each report.
With GSC, you need to know where to look for certain things, while BWT makes the process more intuitive.
That’s pretty comprehensive, right?
Well, BWT allows you to dig even deeper, right from the Dashboard.
Now let’s go over the features you can access from the navigation pane on the left-hand side of the Dashboard.
Configure My Site
The Configure My Site section enables you to see some of the same details you get from the dashboard, but with a little more detail.
This is your one-stop-shop for setting up your site and how Bing’s crawlers will interact with it.
These are familiar steps that you’ll find in GSC, but it’s consolidated a little more easily.
Let’s dive in.
Just as the name states, all of your submitted sitemaps are located here.
BWT offers several formats for submitting your sitemaps:
- XML Sitemap
- RSS 2.0
- Yahoo! mRSS and Bing mRSS (Media RSS)
- Atom 0.3 & 1.0
- Text (a plain text file containing one URL per line)
Do you want to give Bing an overview of all the pages on your site at one time?
The XML sitemap is best for that.
If you want Bing to know about new URLs on your site, then Bing recommends you use the RSS or Atom format.
After submitting your sitemaps, you’ll get a list of the URLs that Bing has indexed, along with any issues that it found.
GSC’s sitemap feature allows you to see the same data, but only takes sitemaps in XML format.
Let’s say you’ve rolled out new services, complete with their own landing pages and a couple of blogs.
Google Search Console allows you to submit URLs to be crawled with its URL Inspection tool.
In BWT, the Submit URLs feature does the same thing.
You can submit up to 10,000 URLs per day and there’s no limit to how many you can submit in a month.
To add a URL, you simply enter it (one per line) and hit “submit.”
From there, Bingbot immediately goes to work.
If your pages meet Bing’s quality criteria, then they’ll start being served up in search results. Voila!
Ignore URL Parameters
URL parameters are great for attribution and a pain in the neck for SEO.
The search engines don’t differentiate between URLs with and without parameters.
There are plenty of reasons why that’s bad for SEO.
Both Bing and Google allow you to block these pages from appearing in search results.
With Bing, you can manually add URLs to be blocked from search.
GSC’s URL parameters tool is much more powerful, but Bing’s lets you get the job done, albeit not as optimally.
Crawl control sounds like “cruise control,” and there are some similarities.
With this feature, you can control how quickly or slowly Bing crawls your site.
If your site typically gets a lot of traffic on weekday mornings, the last thing you need is Bing adding stress to your servers.
This feature gives you a chance to tell Bing to chill and come back when your site isn’t so busy.
Google’s new Search Console doesn’t have this feature.
You’ll have to go to the legacy features to control the crawl rate.
Deep links are the links that appear just below the site’s main page in the search results.
On Google, they’re known as sitelinks.
This feature allows you to block specific pages so they don’t appear here.
You can only do this on Bing; Google retired its feature that allowed you to demote sitelinks.
If you’ve got pages that you don’t want to appear in search results, this is for you.
It’s pretty much the same as GSC’s Remove URLs feature.
Remove your gated PDFs, campaign landing pages, etc.
Ideally, you’ll want to noindex these pages.
But SEO managers don’t always have that level of access.
Use this feature in a pinch.
The catch? The block only lasts for 90 days.
Are there sites linking to your site that you’d rather not be associated with?
Just like Google, Bing allows you to disavow specific pages, directories, or domains.
With Bing, you simply enter the URL(s) that you want to disavow, while GSC requires that you upload them via text file.
If you want to tell Bing to serve up certain pages or sections of your website for users from a particular region, this is your feature.
You can do this for a single page, domain, subdomain, or directory.
Just enter the URL that you want to geo-target and the country, and Bing will start serving up your preference in the search results.
Much simpler than the individual targeting that GSC requires, right?
Like most SEO pros, you probably manage more than one site.
And just like Google, Bing lets you add a site to your account.
You can do that here or from the Dashboard.
So this is pretty cool.
Tell Bing which social media accounts or pages that host your apps are linked to your site.
Then it can tell you how many impressions and clicks you get from those pages.
You can link pages from social media and the big app stores.
This really lets you see how people are finding you across your entire web presence, not just your main site.
Just like GSC, BWT allows you to manage who can have access to your account, as well as their permissions.
It’s pretty easy to manage your users.
Simply add them using their email address and pick their role.
You have three options to choose from: Read Only, Read/Write, and Administrator.
Reports & Data
Everything we’ve covered so far addresses how to get your BWT account set up, make sure your pages are crawled correctly, and that you’re serving up the right content in search.
Next, we’ll talk about the reports that BWT generates and how you can use them to improve your site’s performance.
Get into the nitty-gritty of page-by-page performance with this report.
In Google Search Console, this data is available via the performance report, which you can filter by page.
BWT pulls together data from both Bing and Yahoo here, so you get a bit of a two for one.
Beneath the URL of each page, you’ll see “View Search Keywords.”
This takes you to a page that shows all the search queries that led traffic to the page you selected.
Want to get inside the mind of Bing?
The Index Explorer allows you to see how Bing views your site, organized in folders and files – a lot like how Windows Explorer looks.
This report is complex, but once you dig in, it can be really powerful.
You can see all of the data that Bing has collected on the pages it crawled.
See all of your redirects, pages with errors, malware-infected pages, and URLs blocked by robot.txt.
With this level of detail, you can really fine-tune your site’s performance.
GSC provides the same information via its Index Coverage Report, but it doesn’t have the same visual structure.
This is one area where Bing’s navigation is one step ahead of Google.
This one’s pretty straightforward.
Here you can see the keywords that drive traffic to your site, drill down into details per keyword, and export into a CSV file.
Just like the page traffic report, this is captured in GSC’s Performance report; you just have to set the filters to view by queries.
Bing’s automated SEO Reports identify areas of your site that don’t follow SEO best practices.
Instead of digging into the Index Explorer or individual reports to identify areas that need improvement, Bing does some of the hard work for you.
This bi-weekly report is great for beginners or anyone who just wants to tackle low-hanging fruit before moving on to more complicated matters.
Which sites are linking to yours? And which pages are drawing the most inbound links?
This report, just like GSC’s Links Report, has the goods.
Dig a little deeper by clicking on the individual link.
Then you’ll see a pop-up that shows the anchor text tied to the link.
Crawls errors happen.
And when they do, you need to investigate.
That’s what the Crawl Information Report is for.
Issues are organized by type.
Clicking on the number under each type will take you to a list of all the pages that have registered that particular type of error.
The report covers:
- HTTP codes 400-499
- HTTP codes 500-599
- HTTP code 301
- HTTP code 302
- Excluded by robots.txt
- DNS Failures
- Connection Timeouts
BWT has consolidated this information all in one report, whereas GSC breaks it up between the URL Inspection Report and the Index Coverage Report.
Diagnostics & Tools
So you’ve got your site(s) all set up, and you’re moving and grooving through reports.
Now it’s time to get insights to make sure your site’s performing as well as it should.
BWT has consolidated these tools together under Diagnostics & Tools.
If you’re looking for similar data from GSC, you’ll find it broken up through several reports in different places.
Mobile Friendliness Test
First up, let’s look at the Mobile Friendliness Test.
If a site isn’t mobile-friendly these days, then it’s seriously lagging behind.
Google’s placing more emphasis on mobile sites, so its Mobile Usability Report is critical for your site’s performance.
Even though Bing has said there are no plans to introduce mobile-first indexing on its platform, you still want to make sure your site is mobile friendly.
The Mobile Friendliness Test allows you to analyze your site to see how well it meets mobile best practices.
You can actually analyze any site, not just those that you’ve verified in BWT.
Bing’s keyword research tool shows you search appearances and trends, much like what you can get from Google, SEMrush, and other keyword research tools.
The key difference here is that you won’t find it in GSC.
Instead, you’ll need to use Google Trends or the Keyword Planner that comes with Google Ads.
Fetch as Bingbot
I mentioned Fetch as Bingbot earlier, because it’s a part of BWT’s Dashboard.
Here’s a deeper breakdown of what you can do with it:
- See what your HTTP Headers and page source look like to Bingbot.
- Make sure that Bingbot is seeing the same content as your users.
- Test if a URL is being blocked by your robots.txt file.
This tool pulls back the curtain between you and Bingbot.
Use that transparency to identify errors or anything that you don’t want going on.
Using structured data helps you squeeze every bit of functionality out of search engines.
Bing recognizes six languages that allow you to have more control over how your pages appear in search. Like so:
The Markup Validator tool tells you if you’ve done it correctly.
It works a lot like GSC’s Structured Data tool.
Just plug in a URL and go.
Structured data is a pretty advanced SEO concept, so Bing has included links to resources on the six languages it recognizes.
If you find an issue with any of your pages, just hop on over to the resources to find a fix.
Remember the SEO Reports I touched on earlier?
The SEO Analyzer lets you run through the same best practices, on-demand.
The difference here is it’s on a page-by-page basis.
Enter your URL and Bing will download the page, checking for about 15 SEO best practices.
Once a page has been scanned, the SEO Suggestions panel on the left lists each individual issue.
Click on an item to get more detail:
Click on the plus sign to see the level of severity, and how to fix it.
The menu across the top of the page lets you see where the issue is in the page’s code and how the page appears on the web.
As an added bonus, The SEO Analyzer will fetch any page, even those that you don’t want to be crawled.
You won’t find a similar tool on Google Search Console.
Instead, Google’s web.dev tool will help you analyze your site for search engine optimization.
Up to one-fifth of all internet traffic can be attributed to bad bots that steal data and credentials.
If you want to stay one step ahead of those little gremlins, you have to pay attention to the traffic that comes to your site.
Bing wants to help you with that. Use this tool to verify that an IP address comes from Bing.
If you want to do this with Google, you’ll have to run a DNS lookup.
The Site Move tool helps you fast-track the process of telling Bing that you’ve moved your site.
It’s Bing’s answer to GSC’s Change of Address Tool.
BWT gives you several options to choose from in terms of the scope of your move:
After you enter the source and destination URLs, Bing will run a few tests to make sure that everything is correct.
If all goes well, then Bing will let its crawlers know about your new address.
Note: You still want to set up 301 redirects before you take this step. This just lets you be a little more proactive instead of waiting for Bing to figure out that you’ve permanently moved your site.
While it’s a bit more limited than GSC’s Security & Manual Actions section, Bing does offer a couple of tools to help you manage your site’s security.
Ideally, you’ll be in the free and clear here.
But it’s better to know about security issues on your site instead of being in the dark.
The good news: Malware-infected sites are on the decline.
The bad news: 40% of malicious URLs were found on good domains.
BWT’s Malware tool shows you any URLs where Bing has detected malware.
You’ll also see a short description of the issue, when it was detected, and when it was last scanned.
This is valuable information to take back to your developer so you can root out the issue and fix it.
Cybercriminals create a new phishing website every 20 seconds.
Search engines don’t want to play a part in leading users to those sites, so they’re constantly flagging sites that seem like they may be malicious.
Bing relies on Microsoft SmartScreen’s list of suspicious sites to pull this data.
In the unfortunate event that your site is flagged, you can address it with BWT’s Phishing Re-evaluation tool.
Once you’ve identified the issue, you can request Bing to review your site again using the tool.
Once you’ve made a BWT account, Bing may send you all kinds of messages – from phishing alerts to crawl errors. The Message Center is your inbox inside of Bing.
You can have these messages sent directly to your inbox if you don’t want to have to log into BWT to check.
And if you miss that email, Bing keeps them all safe right here for you.
All of your current messages will be marked as current, so you can easily see any that you haven’t addressed.
You can filter by site or message type to make it easier to navigate through.
You have a few options for what to do with these messages once you’ve read them (see the checkbox next to each message).
You can leave them here, delete them, or archive them.
If you choose to archive a message, it’ll go here.
The functionality of this section is a lot like the Current section, where you can filter by site or message type.
Keeping an archive is good for helping you keep track of issues that you’ve addressed, but don’t want to clutter up the Current section.
And once you’re really really done with an issue, you can permanently delete it from here.
Copyright Removal Notices
In the event that someone flags content on your site for a DMA violation, the URL will appear here.
You can also see the Copyright URL owner here as well.
Think your content has been flagged unfairly?
Click on “Respond to Notices” to appeal the claim.
Up until July 2019, Microsoft offered a Translator Web Widget to easily translate your site’s content. But the widget wasn’t without its flaws.
Now, Microsoft offers a few options, with Microsoft Translator being the most popular.
It uses machine learning to translate everything from web pages to downloadable assets.
It supports over 60 languages, and there are a few ways to integrate it into your site:
- CMS plugins.
- CMS platforms with integrated support.
- Integration of the Microsoft Translator API.
These options give you more flexibility than the old Translator tool, though they may be a bit more complicated to get up and running (depending on your selection).
I’ve spent a lot of time in this article highlighting Bing’s perks and why it’s a valuable tool to have in your arsenal.
But I totally understand if the idea of adding BWT to your list of sites to keep up with gives you a headache.
BWT’s got you covered.
If you’d like to access BWT’s features (well, most of them) on your SEO or analytics software of choice, you’ll need to use the Webmaster API.
It’s a pretty simple process, just like with any API integration.
Bing Places for Business
If you want to be found in local search, then the search engines need to know where you’re located.
Bing Places for Business offers you two options to do so.
If your location is already verified with Google My Business, then you can import it here.
If not, you can add or claim your business manually through Bing.
It’s a simple process, but the steps vary, based on your business type.
First, select your business type.
You’ll be asked to choose from small or medium business, chain business, online-only, or whether you’re managing listings on behalf of your clients.
Small businesses can look up their business by phone number or address manually.
If Bing has a listing for it, then you’ll be able to claim it for your business here.
Next, you’ll be asked to cross-check the business details (such as the name, website, etc.).
Once you’re all set there, you’ll be given a few options to verify your listing: Bing will send a PIN via snail mail, email, text, or phone call.
For businesses with multiple locations, Bing offers a bulk upload file to make the process a little easier.
Bing News PubHub
Do you publish news content?
Bing News PubHub will help you get your content in front of readers who are looking for news stories.
Sites that are accepted into the PubHub will be served up to users across these Microsoft products:
- Bing News Connector on Outlook, which allows users to create their own news digest.
- Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated digital assistant.
- Bing News on the web and the Bing app.
To be a part of PubHub, sites must meet Bing’s guidelines.
Bing evaluates sites for newsworthiness, originality, authority, and readability.
Additionally, Bing says that sites that don’t publish regularly, are too lax with grammar and spelling rules, or that were designed primarily for marketing products or services are not eligible.
Bing Manufacturer Center
Bing Manufacturer Center helps product makers improve the way their products appear in search, Product Ads, and various Microsoft applications.
The Manufacturer Center allows you to add details, such as product IDs and descriptions, to make your product stand out.
As the name states, the tool is primarily for product manufacturers.
Retailers that don’t sell their own products can use Bing’s Merchant center to manage their product listings.
If you already have a Google Manufacturer Center account, Bing will accept your catalog in the same file formats as Google.
So you can get the benefits of both tools without having to do a whole lot of additional work.
Once your products are set up in the Manufacturer Center, Bing will provide analytics on their performance.
Bing Solutions, now known as Bing for Partners, enables you to integrate Bing into your apps, tools, website, and services.
There are a number of ways companies are integrating Bing into their tools, or are integrating with Bing:
- Twitter uses Bing’s Translation API to translate tweets.
- Amazon uses Bing in the search feature on Fire tablets.
- Fandango connects with Bing to serve up movie showtimes in search.
Bing touts its partner program as a way to boost functionality and reach new users.
While the Bing for Partners website is divided into sections for businesses and developers, most of the good stuff is for developers.
Once accepted into the program, developers can use Bing’s API to create maps, integrate speech, and translation tools.
The search capabilities are the most powerful elements of Bing for Partners.
Bing offers five search APIs, ranging from the basic web search functionality to video search capabilities.
You can also create custom searches to control the search experience users have on your site.
The most impressive tools are Bing’s Visual Search APIs and tools. They can recognize bar codes, pull text from images, and serve up visually similar images.
What’s Next for Bing Webmaster Tools
And there you have it – everything that Bing Webmaster Tools has to offer.
It’s more than you expected, right?
Good news: Bing is only getting better.
As I write this, the Bing team is rolling out a refreshed portal for Bing Webmaster Tools. The new portal will feature a cleaner, faster responsive design.
You can start accessing some of the new features inside of the current portal. And all of the features we’ve shown here are still available.
As you can see, Bing has no shortage of functionalities to help you improve your website’s performance.
This refresh will help make the experience more intuitive and flexible.
Bing says the move to the new portal will take place over the next few months.
I’ll keep you posted here as updates are released.
- Bing Webmaster Tools: A Visual Guide to New & Updated Features
- How to Submit Websites & Pages to Search Engines: A Simple Guide
- How Bingbot Works: Discovering, Crawling, Extracting & Indexing
Featured Image & In-Post Photos: Created by author, June 2020
All screenshots taken by author, June 2020