Most folks know that, if anything, Microsoft is great at iteration.  The company spends countless hours working and reworking until “best practices” are achieved and “best of breed” unfolds. The Bing team is following this model with a new set of web tools that go beyond the search engine itself, and help site owners find problems and improve their sites.

The update comes just five months after the major “Honey Badger” upgrade in early June. This time, the company is focusing on three key themes it identified by almost one year of user feedback:

  • To share more data 
  • To increase transparency
  • Bring more useful tool set

“You spoke, we listened, worked and are now delivering,” Duane Forrester wrote in his community blog.  

Expanding Crawl Details to Include Inbound Links

To start, the Bing team is expanding Crawl Details information. Now any inbound link, regardless of heading, will be shown by Bing.  “So anything listed under the 300, 400 & 500 codes will, by URL, display inbound links to the URL.  As well, any URLs listed under the Robots.txt and Malware headings will also share data the same way.  You are now no longer limited to just seeing inbound links which point only to pages returning a 400 header response code,” Forrester said. In the past, only HTTP errors in the 400 class included the inbound link data.   

These new tools can help create a “starting point for taking positive action when problems on the site arise." The data empowers a Webmaster with the inbound links that made Bing find the error. 

Along with this, the group is expanding active email alerts. “If we place an alert in your account for malware, you’ll get an email. If we would like to access more of your content, more deeply, we may send you an email asking you to review your crawl settings.  If you’ve got them turned down, slowing us down, this is a chance to increase the crawl rate and for us to get more of your content, faster. The setting will remain under your control, but we’ll email the suggestions.” 

In another change, Microsoft said it will be placing URL Normalization suggestions inside the Webmaster account, allowing feedback to Bing on which URLs have query parameters. To avoid hitting site limits, the group increased the number of query string parameters that can be normalized per site from 25 to 50 items. Forrester said, “This doubling means webmasters can place many more items in the system for normalization.” The URL Normalization suggestions will all be disabled by default, allowing the web master to choose which, if any, elements to incorporate into the controls. 

Index Explorer Tool Supports Deeper Data

The Bing team has also boosted the Index Explorer tool with deeper data about the web site. “As we continue to expand our depth and share, we will continue to update data for domains.  Your most visual clue to this change will be in the Traffic Data appearing within the Index Explorer tool,” Forrester said.

The group is also adding a third option for DNS verification for account domains. Bing will now allow you to place a discrete CNAME record to the DNS to validate a domain. Still supported are adding a snippet to the <head> code or uploading a dedicated XML file to the root of the site. The group said both options remain valid ways to verify domains.  

For the final enhancement, Bing is integrating data from adCenter inside the webmaster tools accounts. This will appear as an APC or average cost per click column in the reports. "Specifically, when viewing Traffic data and looking at the keywords which drove traffic to your site, you’ll notice an Avg CPC column on the left now, with more details in a floating pane to the left of that," Forrester said.