How The Bing Toolbar May Accidentally Submit Private Pages & Ads

Microsoft has confirmed that they do discover and index URLs that they find through users surfing the Internet with the Bing Toolbar installed. This can be a concern for those who know certain URLs are only accessible if the individual knows about it and navigates to the URL with the Bing Toolbar installed.

For example, YouTube has a setting where you can share a video privately with someone else by giving them a special URL. If the user they are sharing that URL with has the Bing Toolbar installed, Bing can technically discover the URL, assuming the page is not blocked via the NOINDEX meta tag or other means.

Duane Forrester, a Senior Product Manager at Microsoft, told us:

Yes, as with some other toolbars, the Bing toolbar (when permitted by the user) may record the open (not https) web sites that a user visited to add to our knowledge of the internet in order to improve the search results we provide to users. This in turn (if the site permits) may indeed lead to our crawling links we have discovered. As noted, any site can control the indexing of pages via the NOINDEX meta tag.

Recently one Google advertiser complained that Bing had discovered, crawled and indexed their AdWords tracking URLs. This caused several of their special ad URLs to be listed in Bing, leading to inflated AdWords clicks and conversions.

Duane said, “for the case of Advertisers, they can (and often do) notify crawlers not to crawl their click tracking URLs by using robots.txt disallow rules, Bingbot honors these rules and will not index the URL nor follow the redirection.”

To some, this might not come as a surprise. Remember our story, Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results? Bing was discovering data within Google’s search queries through their toolbar. So one might assume that Bing also used the Bing Toolbar to discover other URLs.

It is important for webmasters and users to know, Bing may use the toolbar to discover URLs that one might not expect them to discover. Such URLs include YouTube private videos, specialized ad URLs that you do not want indexed, documents on private servers and many other cases.

Related Stories:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Microsoft: Bing SEO | Top News


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • Serpholic Serphoic

     Nice blog usually its really so much knowledgeable that provides us a huge amount of information about the bing toolbar that how the bing toolbar may submit private pages and ADS.It is important for webmasters and users to know, Bing may use the toolbar to discover URLs that one might not expect them to discover. so please keep share such of these kinds of blogs.


  • Nathaniel Bailey

    Here’s a simple fix, uninstall the bing toolbar and head over to google! Google gives much better results then bing IMO, so you would never catch me using their services.

    But I do think bing should warn people when they install the toolbar, and give them the option there and then to turn it off permanently! But on the other hand, what if I have a site which only gives certain URLs to members and one of them has this setting turned on, bing may have there permission to watch what they do, but bing don’t have the webmaster permission.

    So does this mean we need to start using robots.txt more to block bing from indexing what they have no right to index?

  • Aiden Moor

    Nice to hear about Bing because from a long time I didn’t heard something new from Bing but now I got a new and twisted news.

  • Damir Karaica

    I hate toolbars. I always uncheck “install toolbar”  when install something.


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