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June 9, 2010

Bing Webmaster Tools At A Glance

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This is a guest liveblog post by Dana Lookadoo. Dana is an SEO Consultant and founder of Yo! Yo! SEO. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

SMX

It begins, my second day as a guest live blogger… Sitting next to @RickDeJarnette, Microsoft Bing Webmaster Center blogger and @ScottClark. Scott mentioned he wanted to be in a “daily practical session.” Ready…

Presenter: Eric Gilmore, Group Product Manager, Bing

His Foundation

He shares how he got baptized into SEO, background as a corporate entrepreneur. Been at Microsoft for years and wanted to develop a world view of SEO from the publisher’s perspective.

1. Publishers are the “air we breathe”

  • Talks about focus on publishers.

2. SEO 101 is still really, really hard.

  • SEO 101 is really hard for the beginners, the big and the small guys. software can do a lot of automation to make it easier

3. What’ is in the “black box?”

  • Demystify to make life easier, to make us see inside

4. Ripe for innovation

  • The industry is a little stagnant, lack of innovation.
  • He has opportunity to improve that.

Looked in the Mirror

What has Bing done? He thinks what they’ve done in search is good for the user. Search is good for the consumer but not a lot of innovation on the tool side.

Bing Webmaster Center won’t win any awards at Apple, a lot to improve. Won’t win any design awards.

Weapon of Choice

Shows slide of red RESET button.

The team blew it all away and started from scratch to rebuild the tools, from the ground up. They wiped the slate clean and started over!

What is the North Star that guides them?

They listened to people, holistically, to forums, blogs, what people wanted. They focused on building a product based on that insight. We’re going to see the first step to building that foundation. (Anxiously wondering when?)

They want us to help them build a product that they want. It’s not marketing speak. (Okay.)

Without further ado…

He asks everyone to turn off all Wifi devices (defiant, not turning it off)

[Heh. Sounds like Steve Jobs WWDC presentation! —Virginia]

New Webmaster Center

Shows Bing WC – Clean, simple, doesn’t look that much different, at first, but…

Green up arrows (red down arrows) show percent change, a visual queue of something to take action. (Can’t jump up and take pict while live blogging at same time… Maybe Ross Dunn @RossDunn will share his picts.)

Interface on HTML, JavaScript plus Silverlight.

ASIDE: HTML 5 is not defined as a standard, so Eric explained that it’s not locked so you can’t give them a blueprint upon which to build HTML 5.

Features

  • Crawl
  • Index
  • Traffic

Crawl Details

  • Trends: You can 6 months of trends about your site.
    • Can get a 6-month view of data of URLs that appear in search results, 6 months bigger than anything out there. (Was he referring to Google Webmaster Tools?)
  • Tree Control: See Tree control at a detailed level, every error of your site and see it at a container level as well as URL level of what error is caused by.
    • Traverse the tree and see visually that this page got flagged by Bing and see relevant actions needed regarding URL as well.
  • Live popup form that if you have questions about crawl, contact support immediately!

(It’s pretty cool stuff so far, I think, but no one is moved. Maybe it’s because actually do use these Bing WC…)

[Dana, do you mean they "don't" use the Bing WC? Just clarifying. —Virginia]

Index Explorer

Index Explorer is the primary WC tool. It shows an accurate account of what’s indexed on the Web for your site.

Provides a set of filters:

  • HTTP Codes
  • Crawl Date Range
  • Discovery Range

As you mouseover the tree of Index Explorer, a popup shows accurate number of pages index of that “Container”, e.g. Total URL count, Child URL count. Helps you to see if content is relevant and should be in the Bing index.

Stationary tab… (missed what that was)

(He just said “transparency” for the 3rd time.)

Blueprint of indexed content:

1. Submit URLs to Bing index: Or, if you are afraid the search engine won’t have the most recent copy, empowers you to submit those URLs to them. They don’t always discover everything that is on the Web, stuff they miss. Think of Submit URL as a signal, a priority flag, to alert them. Helps for new content, especially given latency when a search engine hits that URL again. It’s not the way they want us to submit content. Can be used for good or bad. They will monitor.

  • 50 URLs per month, 10 per day

2. Block URLs: Before this there was no self-service way to block content.

  • EXAMPLE: Block www.site.com/default.aspx. (My warning to webmasters, this doesn’t replace 301 redirects?)

3. Traffic Summary: Shed light about data bout keyword – clicks and click through rate & trends about data. “Incredibly detailed and powerful” query data. (No one is clapping, copy of Google Webmaster Tools?)

Building Bing Foundation

  1. New Platform from scratch – (got distracted, Scott Clark’s phone just played music, bad boy)
  2. Data, Data, Data – Drive more transparency to dive into the data and understand it. #4 for “transparency”
  3. Simplified UX
  4. Rich Visualizations – Silverlight experience, HTML 5 down the road.

Looking Ahead

He admits to being in a cave while working on this.

  1. Committed to Investment
  2. Open Dialogue – take our feedback. Admits hard decisions and need to prioritize, sooooo, we want input on that prioritization
  3. Innovate, Innovate, Innovate – rapid releases and hopes to surprise it.

eric.gilmore@microsoft.com – send him anything you want to. He does appear genuine in wanting to get our input.

Questions

Q. When does this go live? (It’s not on my screen as I’m logged into Bing.)

A. This summer or very, very soon. He offers to take our input, nice, BUT we need to use it to provide input.

Q. Any section about “your site on the Web” (guy’s own site)? Guy wants deadness (404 errors). Yes, we will see details. Guy wants to know how Bing discovered the 404. Request was seconded. (Hmmm… guy wants help in prioritizing efforts. Heck, if you have a 404, get rid of it, dude.)

A. Noted. Good request. (They said so, not me.)

Q. International?

A. Release will be a US-only, English-only. (Ross Dunn and folks from Canada, sorry…)

Q. Do you see this expanding to be more like GA?

A. This is by no means any competition of Google Analytics. Data and analytics goes hand in hand. They have analytics in mind. “This is nothing to discuss right now … stay tuned.”

(Was this a Bing Analytics tease, possible?????)

(He mentioned “transparent” again.)

Q. If that data is important to us and enough people want the data, where we can go to tell them what’s important to us? One form?

A. They are planning to engage in a more programmatic way (all-hands sessions, tour) to crowd source the community to make it easy for us to supply our opinions.

(Discussion, not sure of exact question…)

A. Search engine has to feel pure, but they cannot share the algorithms. Too much is obsessed on what you are ranked on. The content you click on is more focused on SEO than on if that page is really the best decision.

Get away from navigational queries.

SEO to drive user value in a way that is compelling. Google and Bing each as search engines can’t disclose, but they are pushing barrier to be more transparent. (AGAIN?)

Q. Suggest submitting XML Sitemap?

A. I LOVE SITEMAPS. (That was the most excitement so far.) Talks about how wonderful XML Sitemaps are. Their Submit Site URL will help them discover content.

Ways to help them discover content:

  • Real-time in the hub model
  • Sitemap
  • Proactive submissions

Discussion about need sitemaps and bigger sites. “It’s like spaghetti” (missed that metaphor). Sitemaps become more difficult for larger sites and more resource intensive. Hub model is approach to push content, one solution.

Q. News Sitemaps?

A. Search engines are trying to figure out how to resolve freshness. Users expect fresh content. News is one way to do that. It’s not a scalable way to discover content. Bing has not worked on a Sitemap that is specific to news. They are not sure they would do a “one off thing for a particular industry.”

Q. Ross Dunn asks about local listing management?

A. Local is a publisher. Assuming that if a publisher, they have a website. Local – 1/2 have a website. Need to solve issue for local businesses who do not have a website. Question is how to build the infrastructure and what is the value prop of the local business to engage. They are thinking about the problem. Bing guy is not sure what the value proposition is to them.

Q. Ross asks about a local listing business center for Canada.

A. They have a local mapping team. Local is a mapping-centric function. Do they have coverage in Canada? Not sure.

Q. Cross domains?

A. Can traverse in Index Explorer?

The Easter Egg: You can register a domain as a site.

Request is to have subdomain aggregate as if it were a subfolder.

(I just noticed the room is full, around 70.)

Q. Theoretical question by Tom Schmitz, @TomSchmitz, about wanting a scorecard, evangelizing for SEOs. How well am I going up against the algorithms, e.g. external link profile? How have you indexed what is linking and what value you give them? Mentions Open Explorer SEOmoz data. Asks for gas gauge on “crawl budget.”

A. Thomas just got invited to lunch at Microsoft.

Domain score is going away. They want to give actionable data and not some bar that shows 1-5.

Q. What additional data can we see on the horizon?

A. They are wrestling with algo and rank and how to demystify. There is so much they can share and wondering if it’s relevant. Struggle.

Closing Notes:

Rick DeJarnette posted http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/webmaster/archive/2010/06/09/an-smx-sneak-peek-at-the-new-bing-webmaster-tools.aspx

One advantage of guest blogging is getting to interrupt the speaker and say “Excuse me, I’m live blogging this and have a quick question” AND you get the speaker’s attention. Eric walked over and gave me his card!

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3 responses to “Bing Webmaster Tools At A Glance”

  1. Alan Bleiweiss writes:

    Some interesting stuff on the horizon it appears, however what struck me the most from this is 1 – they’re stuck in confusion mode / debate about a LOT of stuff. 2. They’re hung up on value proposition related to Local? Are they kidding? OMG LOL 3. The repetition of “transparency” is an indicator that the previous two observations just reinforce Microsoft is stuck in corporate mentality, too slow to move forward.

    As much as I despise Google’s approach of rolling things out left and right without proper testing or insight, at least they don’t take decades to roll out useful tools like GWT!

  2. Dana Lookadoo writes:

    Virginia, you did such a great job transcribing my notes! I love tag teaming with you!

    Yes, you were correct in that I wondered if others didn’t use Bing. What they were showing was cool, especially for those like myself who find value in Bing Webmaster Center. The room was very “staid.”

    Alan, in all fairness, the tools have been live at least a year, since Bing launched. However, they did decide to build a new Webmaster Center from scratch. The trend and indexing data that will be available will provide a huge insight into one’s SEO scorecard with their algos. BUT, we have to wait.

    I so agree they are “stuck” in how much to share, best ways to proceed. Given their audience, SEOs, it would be best to break loose from the apron strings of corporate speak and delve into innovation with some enthusiasm and real “transparency.” :-)

    Overall, corporate speak resulted in little enthusiasm. Yusuf Mehdi, at the SMX Keynote that morning said, “Oh, I almost forgot to mention…” Such announcement of a new toolset as an after-thought isn’t going to go viral.

    I look forward to what they will roll out this summer, waiting impatiently.

  3. Sean Carlos writes:

    Its worth noting that Silverlight is not a web standard. It doesn’t work in Linux (there is a half-hearted project Microsoft & Novell support, but they only seem to release obsolete versions which don’t work on current websites) so the new WMT will be broken out of the box. This isn’t the way Bing/MS will ever hope to out Google Google.



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