In the first and second posts in this series, Vincent Wehren has taken us through an insider’s guided tour of Bing Webmaster Tools (BWT). We’ve learned that BWT was originally an internal SEO toolset that progressed into a very robust external platform and continues to evolve. Users can access very handy dashboards that the everyone, from the smallest and largest search engine optimizers, can use to help them better understand how to improve site visibility.
In this final post, Vincent takes us through the supporting features of Bing Webmaster Tools that includes the Bing Webmaster Help Center, API integration, and Alerts, Messages & Notifications. We’ll also hear [as much as can be shared] about the future of the platform and how Vincent and the team are looking to improve the offering over time. Finally, two search firms will share some insights in how BWT helped their clients succeed.
Bing Webmaster Help Center
The Webmaster Tools Help Center, which launched last year, not only documents the BWT tool fundamentals, but also makes it possible for the support team to respond quickly to common problems faced by users.
Now, when a question spikes in the forums or bubbles up through the support channels, the team can instantly draft a suitable help topic which they can publish very quickly to the Web. Since it’s such as important tool in communicating with users, Bing was eager to integrate it into the existing webmaster stack, which is why it has the same look and feel as the rest of the tools.
The Help Center navigation is smartly structured to mirror how the platform features are organized: from My Sites, through Configuration, Reports & Data, down to Messages & Alerts. In addition to being a support site for the tools and features, it hosts content and webmaster guidelines as well as other useful topics and FAQs. Vincent tells me that this year they’re planning to do an even better job with webmaster documentation and education initiatives.
For example, Sr. Product Manager Duane Forrester has already recorded a series of free webinars which will be uploaded to the Help Center. On top of that, the Bing Webmaster Tools team has more innovative things in the works that will help users to become more successful in their search efforts.
“There are several tools out there that make use of our data and functionality,” Vincent says, “Practically all of our functionality, from configuration to data import and export, can be automated using the Bing Webmaster API. In fact, we make a point of adding open API calls for all of our new features so that enterprise customers can automate recurring tasks and agencies can handle large volumes of clients from within the comfort of their own systems.”
All you need to manage and control your site to access your data programmatically is a Webmaster API key which you can generate from inside Bing Webmaster Tools. With the Bing Webmaster API, you have the flexibility of using SOAP, POX/HTTP, or the JSON/HTTP protocol to get access to your all of your website data. (Note: the full documentation for the Bing Webmaster API can be found here.)
Alerts, Messages & Notifications
The Webmaster Tools are essentially the gateway for all direct communication between Bing and site owners. In the same way BWT collects site information in the form of sitemaps, crawl settings, and other input – they give data back in the form of reports and data. In the Message Center, there are four alert/message categories today:
- alerts regarding indexation issues
- notifications about crawl issues
- malware alerts
- administrative messages
In some ways, the alert system may even be the most important feature of the Webmaster Tools as it helps you stay on top of urgent issues with your site. For example, you might receive an alert about a spike in crawl errors seen during the last 24-hour crawl cycle that could be related to server or connectivity issues that would otherwise go unnoticed. The crawl error alerts are very detailed and cover a lot of problem scenarios; you can access the full list of crawl errors here. If BWT discovers that your site has been compromised by malware, this is the one place where you find out.
“My call to action to our users is to make sure to set up a forwarding email address in the profile section and to adjust the contact preferences to allow us to send you alerts,” Vincent suggests, “That way, we can send you a notification about new and unread messages for each of the sites you manage to your email inbox. If you fail to take these steps, we cannot email you.”
Agency Case Study #1: Resolution Media
Omnicom’s Resolution Media is one of the largest and most successful search agencies in the world and has used Bing Webmaster Tools on many occasions to help their clients succeed in search engine optimization. Dave McAnally, Content Team Director, relayed to me this recent use:
The agency organic search team was working with a client who was pretty aggressive in their SEO tactics and had been engaging in some very cutting-edge strategies. Unfortunately, the Resolution Media team discovered that through the course of all the scraping and scripts that the client team had implemented, some malware had made it to the site. It was Bing Webmaster Tools which alerted them to this issue, and they let the client know immediately so they could remove the offending element. Had they not had the BWT alert functionality available, the Resolution Media team wouldn’t have detected this issue.
“Bing’s malware detection functionality is a great feature,” McAnally confirms. “We got feedback on some sketchy content on a site before anything else detected it, and as a result, we were able to prevent any security breaches, ranking compromises and likely kept users who visited the site safe”
Agency Case Study #2: Perfect Search Media
Perfect Search Media is a Chicago-based independent, full-service digital media agency. Their Search Engine Marketing Director, Joel Benway, explains how Bing Webmaster Tools has become an integral part of their proprietary SEO tool box.
Perfect Search Media has demanding clients that want quick and accurate analyses of their websites’ visibility, health and organic search status. Their clients need their agency to create actionable SEO strategies and proposals on what can sometimes be extremely short notice. After learning about the upgrades to Bing Webmaster Tools, Perfect Search Media thought maybe BWT could help their sales and project management team by being a one-stop-shop solution for their clients’ SEO needs.
“The BWT SEO Reports Tool and Keyword Research Tool are extremely helpful,” Benway says, “We can quickly generate compliance reports with the most important SEO on-page best practices as well as search trends on organic keyword searches. These tools are a huge upgrade from other technologies previously available.”
In the past, generating this type of reporting was time consuming and involved several different kinds of tools and modifications. The Perfect Search Media team confidently feels that Bing Webmaster Tools simplifies the entire process by providing a great set of features focused on efficiency and relevancy.
Future Plans For Bing Webmaster Tools
“As discussed in the previous posts of this series, we like to keep a tight lid on our future plans,” says Vincent. “However, one thing we plan to do is to keep improving our capabilities to support our international audience. From the start, we made sure that our tools were available in all the markets that Bing operates in. To offer the best experience, we localized the toolset in over 40 languages (and counting) from German, French, and Spanish through to Catalan, Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean. As a matter of fact, more than 50% of our users are from outside of the US and are using our tools in their local language every day.”
As Bing expands its global reach, the Bing Webmaster Team will focus not only on consistently improving the user experience, but also adding capabilities and features that help webmasters and search marketers across the globe with their performance in international and local markets. As a small prelude to that, they recently completed end-to-end support in the Webmaster Tools for sites that use International Domain Names (IDNA) which had been on both their and the users’ wish list for some time. They now support all Webmaster functionality for domain names containing non-ASCII characters such as http://bücher.ch as well as internationalized top-level TLDs such as .рф for the Russian Federation.
Vincent seems very interested in user feedback, “Obviously we have a lot more up our sleeve here, but I would really love SearchEngineLand readers to let us know which internationally-focused features they care about most in the comments!“
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.