An Overview of Bing Webmaster Center

Hands up those of you who have verified your sites with Google Webmaster Tools? Ok, good. Now keep your hands up if you’ve done the same for Yahoo Site Explorer? Hmmm a few hands dropped then.

Now keep your hands up if you’ve verified your site with Bing Webmaster Center? Oh dear.

Seems quite a few webmasters are concentrating on Google and forgetting about the other major search engines. If you want to understand how search engines interact with your site and find potential issues before they impact your traffic, you really need to verify your site and sitemaps with the big 3 and monitor your stats regularly.

Most people are familiar with Google Webmaster Tools and Yahoo Site Explorer, but today I want to give you a brief overview of Bing Webmaster Center.

To add a site to Bing Webmaster Center, simply login to your Bing account (or create a new one) and then type in a URL and a sitemap if you have one. You will be prompted to verify your site via either a meta verification tag you place in your home page header, or an XML file that you upload to your server.

Once you’ve verified your first site, you’ll see a dashboard that looks quite similar to Google Webmaster Tools, with the following tabs:

  • Summary – lists the date Bing last crawled your site, the number of indexed pages, your domain score and the top 5 pages of your site.
  • Profile – lists your URL, the verification process you used and the email address associated with your site.
  • Crawl Issues – lists any issues Bing discovered while crawling and indexing your site, such as 404 errors, malware infections and long dynamic URLs.
  • Backlinks – lists which webpages (including your own) are linking to your site.
  • Outbound Links – lists the web pages your site is linking to.
  • Keywords – allows you to see how your pages are performing in search results for specific keywords.
  • Sitemaps – provides various ways for you to notify MSNBot of new sitemaps or when you change an existing sitemap.

The following additional tools are available when you’re logged into Webmaster Center:

  • Robots.txt validator
  • HTTP verifier
  • Keyword research tool

So don’t ignore Bing Webmaster Center. Remember that Google is NOT the Internet.

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Microhoo Deal Given Thumbs Up to Proceed

Microsoft and Yahoo announced today that their planned Search Alliance has been given the go-ahead by the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission without any restrictions.

The exact implementation is yet to be announced, but will involve Yahoo shifting their organic and paid search operations to Microsoft. Yahoo will then display primary search results from Bing and enhance them with Yahoo content.

From Yahoo’s official press release:

“Implementation of the deal is expected to begin in the coming days and will involve transitioning Yahoo!’s algorithmic and paid search platforms to Microsoft, with Yahoo! becoming the exclusive relationship sales force for both companies’ premium search advertisers globally. Once the transition is completed, the companies’ unified search marketplace will deliver improved innovation for consumers, better volume and efficiency for advertisers and better monetization opportunities for web publishers through a platform that contains a larger pool of search queries.”

Advertising for both companies will be managed by Microsoft’s adCenter platform (meaning the closure of Yahoo Search Marketing) and prices for all search ads will be set by AdCenter’s automated auction process.

According to a memo sent to all Yahoo advertisers today:

  • Yahoo Search Marketing advertisers will log into one place – Microsoft’s adCenter – to manage campaigns, for greater efficiency and a better ROI.
  • Yahoo is hoping to transition advertisers and partners in the U.S. prior to October 2010, but may wait until 2011 for efficiency reasons.
  • Advertisers will reach users on Yahoo! and Microsoft sites as well as other premium partner sites, with a single buy on adCenter.
  • Yahoo will give Search Marketing advertisers 3 months warning of any changes to take place.

The two search giants have created a web site dedicated to the partnership and Yahoo has implemented a Transition Center for advertisers.

What does it mean for the search industry? To use a silly dinosaur analogy, (because who doesn’t like those?), it means that Bing the Triceratops and Yahoo the Brontosaurus have just combined to become an aggressive Tyrannosaurus Rex that’s going on a hunt for the Google Gigantosaurus.

Should be quite a spectacle.

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How Google Helped Haiti

No doubt you’ve heard by now of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti this week.

If you’ve visited Google.com since then you’ll see they’ve given up some home page real estate to highlight the tragic event. The home page now features the following sentence:

“Information, resources, and ways you can help survivors of the Haiti earthquake.”

The sentence links to an information page about how the public can help disaster relief in Haiti, complete with donate buttons for UNICEF and CARE, processed by Google checkout.

As well as using their popularity to spread the word, Google has announced they will be donating $1 million to the relief fund.

Not to be outdone, Yahoo and Bing also feature Haiti on their home pages. Yahoo highlights an article about texting to support Haiti as their lead story and also includes a small link for donation options. Bing features two small links labeled “How you can help Haiti” and “Get the latest earthquake news” below the fold, at the very bottom of the page.

If you want to donate to Haiti disaster relief, you can visit the Google link above or contact one of the many charitable organizations in the region directly.

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Tweet and Ye Shall Find (on Google and Bing)

Both Google and Bing have announced agreements with Twitter this week to ensure Twitter updates are included in their search results.

Bing has already launched a Twitter Search tool (it’s still quite buggy at the moment) and judging by their blog post about the subject, it seems Google aren’t far behind.

This is a significant step for the major search engines, because it means users are closer than ever to experiencing real time search. From Bing’s announcement:

“The idea of accessing data in real time has been an elusive goal in the world of search. Web indexes in search engines update at pretty amazing rates, given what it takes to crawl the entire web and index it for searching, but getting that to “real time” has been challenging.

The explosive popularity of Twitter is the best example of this opportunity. Twitter is producing millions of tweets every minute on every subject you can imagine… Search needs to keep up.”

How fresh and relevant the Twitter search functionality will be remains to be seen, but as Danny Sullivan points out in his post today, Twitter’s own tweet search is a lot fresher than the tweets that the search engines are currently dishing up, so they have a long way to go.

What’s more interesting to me about the Twitter search deals is how it will impact SEO. Webmasters will start using Twitter to get their freshest site content indexed by the search engines. Companies that haven’t created Twitter profiles to date may find themselves outranked by their competitors who do.

I’d also expect to see a lot more Twitter spam as people start to realize that tweeting is a fast ticket to the top of the search results. Hopefully the search engines will be able to react to this with some hefty spam filters.

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A Bing Powered Yahoo! – It’s Official

News has just broken on Twitter that Microsoft and Yahoo! have finally closed a deal where Bing will power Yahoo! search results while Yahoo! will become the worldwide sales force for both companies’ search advertising.

@Bing broke the news with this tweet:

“Bing. Yahoo! Two great tastes that are now going to be great together. Check out http://bit.ly/9eUh7″

I can hear the mobile phones of a hundred Google executives ringing from here. Talk about a wake up call!

More details available on my SiteProNews blog post: It’s Official: Bing to Power Yahoo! Search.

Added: more industry coverage here:

It’s Finally Official, Microsoft and Yahoo Make a Deal, Yahoo Gives Up on Search (Search Engine Land)

Microsoft and Yahoo Finally Announce Deal (WebProNews)

Live Blogging The MSFT – YHOO Search Press Conference (Search Engine Land)

Top 10 Things the Microsoft/Yahoo! Deal Changes for SEO (SEOmoz)

The Microsoft-Yahoo Search Deal, In Simple Terms (Search Engine Land)

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