There’s more than one search engine out there. So you need more than Google’s tools if you’re planning to fully optimize for search. For today’s look at SEO best practices, we examine Bing Webmaster Tools (BWT): what sets it apart from Google Search Console, how to set it up, and how to use it for improved search engine rankings.
What Is Bing Webmaster Tools?
Bing Webmaster Tools is a free tool designed by Microsoft to help you optimize web pages for Bing searches. It helps you understand what leads people to your site, what people are searching for to find your content, and how you can increase meaningful traffic to your website. BWT generates personalized reports, messages, and alerts, so you can correct any issues that are hurting your Bing rankings and start seeing improvements as soon as possible.
What Are the Key Features of Bing Webmaster Tools?
BWT has some insightful reporting tools that help you improve SEO, and better tailor your site to what your target audience is searching for. Some features of Bing Webmaster Tools include:
Backlinks Tracking: The Backlinks tool keeps track of your inbound link building. You can see the referring pages, domains, and anchor text linking to your site, so you know your backlinks aren’t spammy, irrelevant, or otherwise low in quality.
Keyword Research: The BWT Keyword Research tool shows you what words, phrases, and questions site users typed into Bing to find your content. You can see how keyword use changes over time, and discover new, relevant keywords to build into your content marketing and search advertising campaigns.
SEO Reporting: If there are site errors causing your Bing rankings to drop, the SEO Reporting feature in Bing Webmaster Tools will show them in real time, along with their urgency, and recommendations for fixing them.
Site Scan: This site audit tool scans your site for real time technical error tracking, reporting, and remediation. It will alert you to critical site functionality issues so your developer or marketing agency can rectify them as soon as possible.
WordPress Plugin: This makes it easier to submit URLs to Bing for indexing directly from WordPress sites.
Mobile-Friendliness Tool: This BWT feature ensures your web pages are optimized for mobile searches.
What Does Bing Webmaster Tools Have that Google Search Console Doesn’t?
True, it’s hard to compete with Google, but Bing Webmaster Tools has some unique functionality we’re excited about.
Enter Bing Site Explorer. According to Bing’s Fabrice Canel, Bing Site Explorer “reflects most URLs we have seen on the web, including redirects, broken links, or those blocked by robots.txt, organized in a file explorer-like fashion. . . giving you the flexibility to navigate each folder and the URLs contained inside them to understand, debug and modify your site structure as required.”
Your entire site is arranged in folders and subfolders reflecting its overall structure, so your site analytics and reporting can be as big-picture, or as zoomed in, as you want.
For each of these folders, you’ll see:
Indexed URLs: Number of successfully indexed URLs inside that folder.
Crawl Errors: Critical errors that prevent Bing Search Bots from correctly indexing URLs.
URL Warnings: URLs with guidelines issues, temporary crawl issues, robots.txt problems, and disallowed links will be numbered here.
Excluded URLs: Monitor this metric for URLs with spam violations, low rank, and more.
Do I Really Need to Do Bing SEO?
The short answer is: Absolutely. Optimizing for Bing is important for two reasons.
One: Bing is still a key player when it comes to search. Controlling 36% of the global search market, 129 million unique Bing users did 6 billion searches in 2019 alone. According to the same report by Wordstream, about half of the United States uses Bing. And many of those users may be your next customers.
Two: Optimizing for one search engine will only help improve rank on the others. Making changes Bing Webmaster Tools recommends will also likely help you better optimize for YouTube, and improve your Google Search Console data, too.
How to Check for and Set Up Bing Webmaster Tools
Checking for Bing Webmaster Tools is similar to checking for Google Search Console or Google Analytics:
Navigate to https://www.bing.com/webmasters/.
If you are redirected to your BWT dashboard, or your login screen, you’ve likely set up Bing Webmaster Tools.
If you see an About Page showing you features and details, you probably don’t have it set up yet.
If you don’t have BWT set up yet, installation/URL submission is pretty straightforward. Here’s what to do:
Open a Bing Webmaster Tools account.
Add and verify your website.
Create and upload your sitemaps for indexing (XML Sitemaps and XML Sitemap index files, Atom 0.3 and 0.1, RSS 2.0, or text files with one URL per line).
Once these are successfully submitted and any errors in these steps corrected, Bing will begin indexing your web pages in search results. From there, you'll start seeing search and SEO data in your Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard.
What to Check on Bing Webmaster Tools (And How Often)
It takes about 6 months to start seeing meaningful patterns in keyword and search data, but we recommend having eyes on keyword reports once a month in case there are any unexpected surprises.
Errors and alerts are what demand more immediate attention since you don’t want any web pages hurting your ranking or threatening your ability to be indexed. Login to your dashboard daily to review and correct errors. Once those errors are corrected, follow up to confirm your website is error-free. Keeping an eye on Bing SEO is part of your due diligence, and is a great way to ensure you’re being seen by the millions of people who use this search engine.