Of Special Interest...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing is getting more recognition on the Internet, and to distinguish itself from the others, this search engine advertises itself as a decision engine. Bing is available on the iPhone and is the search engine that Facebook uses. This week, WebProNews reported that Bing will provide about one third of Yahoo! Search results, and that Bing’s redesigned webmaster tools are now available.

With Bing’s rise in importance and new webmaster tools, I wanted to get Bing’s feedback about this site, and learned that I needed to go to Bing Webmaster Tools Add a Site and do just that.*

Adding this blog’s address was just the beginning. Bing needed to be sure that I own the website before they would give me any information about it. They gave me a 32-digit authentication code and wanted me to prove ownership by adding the code to my site.

Back here on this Blogger blog, I opened the Dashboard, chose the “Design” tab and then selected “Edit HTML” and went down to “Edit Template.” Before even thinking about adding a meta tag to the HTML, as recommended I made a backup copy** of the template by clicking “Download Full Template” and filing it in my Blog folder.

Next, I copied my assigned meta tag code from the Bing site, came back to this blog, still open to “Design/Edit HTML” and pasted the meta tag in the blog’s template, immediately after "head" (quotes replace < and >, absent from this paragraph so the word will display) in the HTML code. After doing this, don’t forget to click the box on the lower right that says “Save Template.”

With the meta tag in place, Bing quickly authenticated my website, and now—finally—I could get feedback on my site. To do so, go to Bing Webmaster Tools, look down for SITES and click on the name of your site. That takes you to the Dashboard, which presents the site’s activity: Clicks, Impressions, Pages Indexed, Pages Crawled, Pages with Crawl Errors, Index Summary, and Traffic Summary. Data for my website showed that it had not yet been crawled by Bing. I started this blog in April and don’t get a lot of traffic—invite your friends please! ;) It’s only three months later now, so this finding isn’t surprising.

When I initially took the steps of authenticating my website and looking at the webmaster tools last month (I’m going back through them as I write this), there was a section called “Related tools” on the left of the webmaster page, under “Resources.” I no longer see this feature in the same place on Bing but, as I mentioned earlier, Bing has redesigned their webmaster tools.

The HTTP Compression and HTTP Conditional GET Test Tool is one item that previously had been available in the "Resources" section.  “What’s that?” you ask. I learned that the use of HTTP Compression and HTTP Conditional GET tool, if available in your browser, is for decreasing “bandwidth usage.” Bing wants to send only information that’s necessary/unique from the crawled site to the search engine, so that it can make the most of the information gleaned from each website it crawls.
Think of HTTP Compression as a tool that works similarly to compressing a document. Just as large files may need to be compressed into smaller (zip) files before an e-mail server will allow the attachment, HTTP Compression makes smaller, more compact files of data so that a search engine’s bots can communicate more efficiently between the site and the search engine.

HTTP Conditional GET is used by search engines to determine whether or not to crawl a site. The search engine will crawl and download a site (GET) only if the site has changed since the last time it was crawled (the condition in Conditional GET).  I used this tool to check my site. Results show that HTTP compression is enabled, HTTP conditional GET is not. These findings won’t change anything I do with this site—I just wanted to check it out.

Another item that used to easily be found on the webmaster site is the Backlinks Tool, which reveals—obviously—backlinks to your page, whether from other sites or from within your own pages. Lots more information can be found at this site as well.

Because I’m naturally curious and wanted to begin to become familiar with Bing’s webmaster tools, I investigated and decided to share what I found. If you don’t follow this particular post, don’t worry. Just know that there are webmaster tools available from Bing, and there is a process to get your site authenticated so you can use them.

I’ll check back from time to time to see if this site has been crawled by Bing, and to investigate whatever else Bing Webmaster Tools can offer. Checking the information from the HTTP Compression and HTTP Conditional GET Tool need not be repeated, as far as I’m concerned, but the Backlinks Tool will be revisited.

* You may recall that I had submitted this blog’s URL to Bing on April 28, but that was to bring it to the attention of Bing sooner rather than waiting for its routine crawling of the Internet to discover it. A RedGage member, commenting from the RedGage site on “Search Engines, AdSense Analytics and Facebook” had asked where one could submit URLs to search engines. Here are the sites where you can manually add URLs to Google, Bing, and Yahoo!  There's a place to add one URL (at a time), then a place for "Comments," which would be the title of your site or article, and finally these search engines want to be sure that a human--not a robot--is submitting the information, you need to enter what is written. If you make a mistake, you will get another chance with a new combination of letters and/or numbers.

** The backup template is easily imported into Blog’s template, found in the Dashboard under “Design/Edit HTML,” if necessary or desired. I also copied the entire expanded template into a Word document, as a backup to the backup—today I tried and failed to open the exported template, and don’t know if that’s due to my computer or the file itself. Of course, now I remember that Word sends extraneous code along with copied text, so I’ll copy the template into notepad, and make future backup copies in notepad to save this step.
If you ever needed to import a previous template and the import tool didn’t happen to work, you could always use your backup text file:

--Open the expanded template document. If it’s in Word, select all, copy all, and paste it to notepad to remove Word’s extraneous code. If it’s already in notepad, select all and copy all.
--Return to the blog and go to “Design/Edit HTML.”
--Click to show the expanded template, which contains the change you no longer want.
--Delete the entire code.
--Paste the “old” code back into the expanded template box and click “Save Template.”

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