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New Redesigned Webmaster Tools for Microsoft Bing

Bing has just launched a completely revamped version of their Webmaster Tools for our SEO and webmaster enjoyment and it looks OK, if not quite perfect. Bing’s Eric Gilmore spoke at SMX Advanced earlier this summer about having hit the reset button and started with a blank sheet of paper and really having listened to their forums; building a modern and more simplified architecture. But a quick glance at the various comments on Bing’s community sites shows that they have missed out or lost a few key features.

The new toolset is supposed to offer a simplified and easier to use interface than before and they are focusing on three main topics, Crawling, Index and Traffic data.

During our review of the new toolbox, we were left with the impression that the main reason for the update was to show off their new Silverlight 4 features rather than give webmasters an impressive toolset. Most lacking is the ability to export any of the data for further analysis. However, the tools do allow you to peer into how the spider is crawling the site, and what pages are getting indexed.

Unfortunately, Bing decided to remove the Outbound links and Backlinks reports which did provide some useful information. They also removed the Robots.txt validator which really was a bad move with the upcoming change to their robot name from MSNbot to BingBot. Domain score was also removed, which we won”t miss as it really didn”t mean anything, nor did the Page Score values – good riddance to those tools, we won”t have to scratch our head wondering what they meant.  See what Anthony M Garcia, Senior Product Manager, Bing Webmaster Tools had to say

Finally we are also missing the language/country information that helped you define where your site should show up for different countries. We”ve used that in the past to help get sites in the correct search results when they were hosted in a different country than the business was located in. Another fail for Microsoft on taking that feature out.

The features they did keep and improved on in some cases are worth using. Here”s a look ath what we now have..

Crawl Data

The crawl section allows you to review up to 6 months of data which lets you see how the BingBot is spidering your site. The Silverlight graphs are admittedly real nice graphs, with easy to use sliders to view the data quickly.

The Crawl Details is an important report that shows you what URLs BingBot is having problems with, or URLs you”ve told BingBot not to index and those they believe to be malware infected.

Index Summary

The Index casino Summary is a new chart that displays how many URLs of your site were indexed on a day to day basis in Bing. The numbers can be a bit worrying, especially when you see a drop in URLs indexed – however sometimes that can indicate that some problems have been solved, such as duplicate content issues.

It is common to have somewhat large surges in the numbers of URLs indexed, for example the domain in the above screenshot did not implement any changes over the timespan when two thirds of its URLs dropped out and we”ve seen similar drops on other sites during the same time period. You may also find interesting that the site in the example did NOT see a traffic drop during that period with a large dip in indexed URLs. In other words, remain calm if you see a massive dip or gain in this report and be sure to study what you”re seeing.

Index Explorer

Index Explorer is just a fancy way to view what URLs from your site Bing has in its index. It”s also a tool to make it very easy to block a URL, or block the cache for a URL or entire directory. This one looks like it”s going to lead to trouble for some, read on to see why we think so…

Traffic Summary

You will need to validate your site to be able to use these new features. Go to http://www.bing.com/webmaster