Bing recently rolled out a major update to their Webmaster Tools. Some SEO experts are recommending that we take a serious look at Bing’s new tools. It’s being reported that features like disavowing backlinks along with new SEO reports and analysis features makes it a serious contender to Google’s webmaster tools. Some experts are recommending that we use both. What are your thoughts?
For those of you not familiar with webmaster tools, they’re free tools that help: improve the visibility of your website in the search results, diagnose problems, analyze data about internal and external links and much more.
Since I haven’t started using Bing Webmaster tools in earnest yet, I don’t have screenshots to share or any personal insight to offer. What I would like to do is share some information and get your input. I’m sure there are people here who have already experimented with Bing, discovered other resources or have already formed opinions that we could all benefit from hearing.
For starters, one of the first things that you need to do (to get the most out of these tools) is make sure that you have a search engine sitemap on your website. A search engine sitemap (in XML format) is a file that contains a list of the URLs of the website pages that you would like indexed by the search engines. Actually, it contains more than that. It also contains important metadata (an additional information layer) with information such as when the page was last modified, how frequently it changes and how it ranks in importance relative to other URLs.
If you’re using WordPress, you can install an XML sitemap plugin, or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can create a sitemap file manually and FTP (file transfer protocol) it to the public folder of your website. (I use XMLSitemaps.com to generate the sitemap and Filezilla client for my FTP program.)
Reading an article about Bing’s webmaster tools, I learned about the ability to disavow backlinks. The ability to do this is one of the reasons that I decided to take a serious look at Bing. Disavowing backlinks indicates that even though another site has linked to yours, you don’t endorse it and you’d rather not have that link considered. For example, a site that you consider “spammy” may be linking to you.
You may be thinking what if that site is legitimate and not shady at all? Would it hurt to disavow it? According to Bing’s senior product manager, Duane Forrester :
“This tool starts that conversation. It can help Bing understand a webmaster’s intent around links pointed at their site. Given there are hundreds of signals at play when determining rankings, telling us to ignore the value from some links, in most instances, won’t have a dramatic effect.”
From what I’m reading, Bing is really differentiating their tools from Google’s through their new SEO reports and analysis features. For example, Bing’s tools will let you know if you’re missing meta descriptions and alternate tags on your images. (For those of you who aren’t quite sure what those are or why you need them, check out my post 4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress Blog.)
Resources to Learn More
For those of you looking for more information (including screenshots), check out Google Webmaster Tools vs. Bing – Which is More Informative? by Kristi Hines. If you’re interested in a comparison of the two tools (along with some detailed insight) check out “Bing vs Google; Webmaster Tools Comparison” on Website Magazine’s website. I found both articles to be very interesting.
Now, over to you: Are you using Google webmaster tools? Bing’s? Both? We’d love to hear your thoughts.