It’s common for Google to dominate conversations about search engine optimization, best practices for SEO, and the best tools to use when achieving top rankings, but Google isn’t the only game in town. In fact, Bing’s set of tools for SEO specialists and website administrators is just as robust and just as essential as its more popular counterpart at Google. Because the best approach to SEO is a comprehensive one that accounts for all possibilities, visitors, and bots, it’s crucial to learn more about Bing’s Webmaster Tools feature and what it can provide within the context of optimizing for the search engine’s algorithm.
Getting Started: Proof of Ownership is Required
Just like Google’s Webmaster Tools service, the Bing variant of this service requires that website owners prove they do, in fact, own the website that they wish to analyze and optimize. Like most services that require domain proof-of-ownership, Bing Webmaster Tools permits users to verify ownership in one of three ways. The first, and most popular, is by using a meta tag. Site owners can also use DNS records or an XML file to prove that they own the domain and begin analyzing its ranking with Bing.
The Webmaster Tools: What’s Available?
With site ownership proven, it’s time to get down to business with the analysis and optimization of a website based on how Bing sees, crawls, and ranks it in search result. It is this ability that makes Webmaster Tools so very important in the grand scheme of things for SEO professionals. Among the most important tools:
- The Dashboard: The dashboard feature of Webmaster Tools was designed by Microsoft engineers to provide at-a-glance access to key data about a site’s search performance. Everything from crawl error percentages to the frequency of search appearances and the number of indexed pages can be seen with a quick glance at the dashboard. This is the jump-off point for SEO enhancements within the Bing algorithm.
- Sitemaps: One of the best ways to make sure that a site is fully indexed and performing well is to give the search engine a map of its various directories, pages, and current content. Google has long allowed the submission of an XML sitemap, and Bing’s Webmaster Tools features now permits the same. This is a key first step toward better performance in Bing search results.
- Ignore URL Parameters: A site’s performance can be improved when Bing isn’t indexing duplicate content or websites, splitting visitors between multiple pages that provide identical content. The “Ignore URL Parameters” tool allows site owners to submit certain directories or structures to Bing with the intention of blocking them from being crawled, indexed, or displayed, funneling users to a single source for the same content.
- Disavow Links: This key feature is one of the most important within Webmaster Tools. Site owners can disavow links from malicious sites that are used almost exclusively to rig the search engine ranking system. Spam websites and black hat operations can be more effectively blocked, and their effects mitigated, by blocking certain domains from being considered by the Bing algorithm.
An Important Part of a Well-Rounded SEO Strategy
Bing’s Webmaster Tools platform is an excellent way to achieve granular control over how a website ranks, appears in search results, and performs for keyword searches over the long-term. With the help of Webmaster Tools, site owners can enhance their website’s performance by blocking malicious URLs, pointing out duplicate sites and content, and submitting a site map that points the search engine to the most important pages within a given domain name. These tools help to achieve crucial SEO goals and are a must-have for serious SEO professionals.