Starting with a very open session at SES New York earlier this year, Bing has been asking webmasters all across the country to get the skinny on what they want in their toolkits. In June, Bing released what they had codenamed their Honey Badger update to Webmaster tools. A few months later, Bing integrated Yahoo! Site Explorer data into Webmaster tools. This week, Bing released their next major set of additions to Bing Webmaster Tools.
In an effort to help website owners improve their sites and do more on Bing, the Bing team announced a new set of expanded Webmaster Tools. Their goals are threefold: share more data with site owners, give site owners more useful tools and increase transparency in data to site owners.
Expanded Crawl Details
Errors and other information in the Crawl Details information now include all inbound link information and also includes information about malware. Any of your site's URLs that are listed under under the 400-, 500- or 300- HTTP codes detailed lists will now let you know what site linked to you that Bing followed to receive the error or redirect, including URLs listed under robots.txt and Malware headings. Previously, only the 400-level HTTP errors contained inbound link information.
Bing has added URL normalization suggestions. URL normalization allows you to tell Bing which URLs in your site have query parameters. Bing also increased the number of parameters you can define from 25 to 50.
Bing will be expanding email alerts for issues your site may have like malware alerts. You can also choose to get email alerts for various crawl settings.
To verify ownership of your site, Webmasters can now use CNAME DNS records. Previously, verification was performed by uploading an XML file or using an HTML tag in your site's index page.
Integrated adCenter data
Last, but certainly not least, adCenter data will be included in Traffic Data. Bing is releasing Average CPC (cost per click) as a column in the reports.
Speaking to Search Engine Watch, Bing's Duane Forrester pointed out these enhancements are valuable to webmasters and can help site owners find problems on their sites.
When faced with a laundry list of 400- or 500- errors in Bing Webmaster Tools, a site owner is now empowered with information to help them determine where to start. Providing inbound links that made Bing find the error is a starting point. If you have moved content someone else links to, you can now set up redirects or other courses of action. The point is, there's a starting point for taking positive action.
"We can see the obvious problems, [choose to] hit the red button and drop the site from the index, but that doesn't help a webmaster fix a compromise," Forrester said. "We look at this as a way to bring on the right conversation with Webmasters."
With recent hacks to WordPress installations and other CMS systems, site owners need to be constantly vigilant. Typically, a site owner can get removed from a search index, even temporarily.
Forrester suggests Bing sees the enhancements to Webmaster Tools as an opportunity to reach out to site owners and help them fix a compromised site. Through Webmaster Tools and email alerts, Bing helps site owners, their search index and the Web overall.
"We're quite happy to have that conversation," Forrester said.