Both of the Web’s top
search engines provide
marketers and Internet
workers with immensely
powerful platforms to
understand how their
websites are perceived
and how they perform
in the respective indices
of Google and Bing.
These solutions — Bing Webmaster
Tools and Google Webmaster Tools —
reveal important data on crawl activity,
provide key traffic statistics, and even
offer the ability to submit sitemaps,
making search engine submission all
but a practice of the past. If you are not
using these solutions currently —
and/or regularly — then you are most
likely missing out on some important
insights that can truly accelerate the
success of your Web presence.
To date, Google’s Webmaster Tools
has been far and away the better solution.
Bing, not to be outdone, recently rolled out several
major changes to the types of data and the depth of guidance
found in its own product — examples of which can be
found in the Phoenix update: http://wsm.co/MzWVgr. In
addition to a far better user experience in this version, Web
marketers now have access to a wide range of tools such as
the new Link Explorer and SEO Analyzer/SEO Reports, as
well as updates to current tools like the Keyword Research
Tool and URL Removal Tool and more.
But in a head-to-head matchup, how do these tools
compare in terms of their functionality and the value they
bring to Web marketers? Let’s take a closer look at Bing’s
improved Webmaster Tools and the comparative offering
from Google. While there is a lot of overlap between the
two solutions, using both is now absolutely mandatory if
the aim is to stay competitive in search.
Exploring Inbound Links
The number and quality of links pointing to your website
is indisputably the single greatest influencing factor in
achieving high placement on the search engines’ results
pages. Bing’s new Link Explorer (now in beta) enables Web
marketers to explore the links associated with any domain,
much like the shuttered Yahoo! Site Explorer.
Users of the Bing Webmaster Tools platform can now
choose to show links pointing to either a domain or an individual
URL, and the new feature even supports refinements
such as searching by anchor text and by keywords
found on a page pointing to a Web property.
For Google’s part, its solution has had this feature available
for quite some time, but without the ability to search
through the information.
Where Bing has recently been separating itself in the Webmaster
Tools matchup is within a new set of SEO reports
and analysis features. Using approximately 15 SEO best
practices to scan against, Bing prepares a report that indicates
compliance with these best practices, providing an
aggregate count of all the issues found.
For example, if you are missing a meta description or
alt tags on images, Bing will let you know. Google does not
currently provide a similar feature within its offering, but
does offer suggested HTML improvements that may be
negatively influencing how content is crawled on your
Sitemap Submission Primer: Neither Bing nor Google’s Webmaster Tools offering will be able to provide much in the way of value if you don’t first submit a sitemap — a list of the pages on your website (typically an XML file, although RSS/Atom feeds also work). There are many different ty pes of sitemaps, however, and each has its own restrictions and guidelines. Read WM’s Sitemap Submission Primer.
Bing is not just rolling out new features for its Webmaster
Tools offering, but is also updating several existing
features that are likely to make its solution comparative to
if not better than Google Webmaster Tools.
URL Removal: Bing updated its URL removal tool that allows
Web workers to block a page from appearing in a Bing
search result. The main change is that the block applied
will now expire in 90 days.
Within that time frame, Bing will recrawl the website
several times, see the server code, and if a 404 appears, for
example, will let it fall from the index. The best part is that
eight days prior to the block expiring, Bing emails the Webmaster
to alert them and give them an option to renew the
block for another 90 days.
URL Normalization: This updated feature allows users to
specify which query parameters Bing’s crawler can ignore.
For example, if you own http://example.com/ and configure
Webmaster Tools to specify the parameter “abc” to be
ignored, the URL http://example.com/?abc=123 will be
seen as http://example.com/.
The result is that URLs containing the query string
parameter “abc” will have the parameter removed prior
to indexing. The benefit of using this feature is perhaps
greatest for e-commerce merchants who use parameters
Removing parameters from URLs in the index prevents
duplicate content and avoids having a page’s index value
split between multiple URL variations. Google does provide
users of its solution the ability to remove parameters
and has for some time now.
Keyword Research: In March 2012, Bing released its organic
Keyword Research Tool and made several refinements
for the Phoenix update. Users were previously
limited to a single keyword or phrase per request, but it
has since been expanded to allow multiple entries that are
run at the same time — speeding up keyword research
projects dramatically and providing a clearer picture of related
terms and phrases.
Google, on the other hand, does not provide a keyword
research tool within its Webmaster Tools offering.
There are, of course, a list of features that Google Webmaster
Tools has that Bing does not, including the Rich
Snippets Testing Tool, Malware warnings, the ability to demote
sitelinks, as well as social reports to identify the impact
on search and measure activity and audience.
The Webmaster Tools offerings from Google and Bing
provide valuable data that can be used to shore up your
search results positions — but only if you use them regularly.
Take the time weekly (or at least monthly) to access
these platforms and use their insights as an action plan towards
greater Web success.
About the Author: Peter Prestipino is the Editor-In-Chief of Website Magazine. A
long-time Internet marketer with over twelve years of experience,
Prestipino is the author of Web 360: The Fundamentals of Web