SEO & Content Marketing

Bing Webmaster Tools Updated: A Guide to the New Features

Written by Ann Stanley on 24th June 2011

Bing recently launched an update on its Webmaster Tools feature. The update, known as the ‘Honey Badger’ update, provides some exciting new features, including the capability to control when and how Bing indexes your site, the ability to allow different users different access levels to your account, and a clever way to avoid duplicate content issues within Bing’s results. Read on for our guide to the new features.

Bing’s New Webmaster Tool Features

Bing have added a host of new features, as well as re-writing existing features. This is our guide to some of the most useful and interesting features in Bing Webmaster Tools.

How to update your Crawl Settings

One of the most impressive of the new features is the ‘crawl settings’ feature. This allows users to manage the load on their server by requesting that Bing crawls the site slower during peak hours of traffic, and faster during slow hours of traffic. The feature is used by simply clicking on the graph (see below) to alter the crawl speed for each hour. And the tick box at the bottom enables dedicated pre-set crawl settings for AJAX websites.

For sites which can sometimes struggle during peak hours, this is a handy tool for helping control server loads.

Managing your users on Bing Webmaster Tools

Another useful new feature of the Honey Badger update is that site owners can now grant admin, read / write, or read-only access to other users for their site using their existing verification code. This allows you greater flexibility in how you use your Webmaster Tools account and who you can give access to. In fact, you can now even grant users access to parts of your sites (subdomains or folders) as you wish.

URL Normalization: How to avoid being penalized by Bing for Duplicate Content

The best way to avoid being penalized by duplicate content is to simply avoid having it in the first place. For some sites, particularly ecommerce sites, however, duplicate content is a fact of life. In this case the conventional solution is to apply the canonical tag to show search engines which page should be considered the authoritative one. However, for webmasters who still have problems or who want to make extra sure they won’t be penalized, Bing Webmaster Tools allows an alternative through the URL Normalization feature.

This feature allows users to request that Bing ignore specific query string parameters. For instance, if you had a search function on your ecommerce site that added ‘search=’ to the url, thereby causing a potential duplicate content issue, then you could simply specify the query string in Webmaster Tools and Bing would, theoretically, ignore that string and reduce the URL to the same as the usual product page.  Using the URL Normalization tool can also help avoid unnecessary site bandwidth usage by the search crawler.

Google Vs Bing: How do the two Webmaster Tools compare?

Other features webmasters are sure to find useful on Bing Webmaster Tools include the ability to view (and export) the external links to your site, information on crawl errors, and data on how your site ranks and for which keywords. For webmasters interested in optimizing their site for search engines (and who isn’t?) then these are essential tools.

The changes Bing have implemented with the Honey Badger update are largely things Google already offer in their own Webmaster Tools. And with recent announcements that Google are planning to begin integrating their Webmaster Tools data into their Analytics data, it seems Bing may have to continue playing catch-up. However, the Bing interface is intuitive, much more graphical than Google’s (which may be seen by some as a bonus), and webmasters would be wise not to ignore Bing Webmaster Tools. Like Google Webmaster Tools, the Bing version is a powerful and vital tool for webmasters, especially now it has been updated.

If you haven’t already got an account, we strongly recommend you go sign up now!