Recently, we covered all the new features that Bing has to offer for marketers, including Bing Webmaster Tools. For all of those who are already using Google Webmaster Tools, you might wonder if there is any need to try Bing out or not. So today, we’re going to look at some popular features that Google and Bing have to offer in their Webmaster Tools as well as which ones are the most valuable for marketers and website owners.
Whenever you log in to either Google or Bing Webmaster Tools, you will be greeted with some important stats about your website. Let’s take a look at what each choose to display.
Google Webmaster Tools dashboard gives you the bare basics about your website as it appears in Google search including site errors, search queries, and URL’s indexed via your sitemaps. In addition, if you have any messages from Google about your website, including malware warnings or the dreaded unnatural links warning, they would show up here as well.
Bing Webmaster Tools, on the other hand, gives a wider range of information about your website as it appears in Bing search including everything from clicks from search to inbound link count.
The website configuration section of both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools are similar – this area allows you to add sitemaps, ignore confusing URL parameters, review Sitelinks (also known as Deep Links in Bing), and add new users to your Webmaster Tools accounts. There are some differences in options between the two.
Under Configuration > Settings in Google Webmaster Tools, you can give your website a specific location to target users in search which helps Google improve their geographic search queries. You can also tell Google that if it finds a link to www.yourdomain.com to treat it as a link to yourdomain.com or vice versa.
Bing has several additional options for your website’s settings in Bing search vs. what Google has to offer for your website’s settings in their search. For example, you can manually submit URLs, and block specific pages and/or directories on your website from appearing in Bing search. Google also allows you to remove URLs from their search, but it is under the Optimization section of their Webmaster Tools.
One major difference between the two Webmaster Tools is that Bing allows you to tell them to ignore incoming links to your website that might be unnatural or spammy. The ability to disavow links in Google Webmaster Tools would be huge – instead of having to ask link partners to remove your website’s link, you could just tell Google to ignore it! With Google’s crackdown on link spam, it seems like they should give webmasters this option to take preventative measures instead of having to wait for an unnatural link warning or Google slap.
Google and Bing both offer reports and analytics data that help you learn more about any issues the search engines have crawling your website. It’s also good to note that Bing’s reports include traffic data from both Bing and Yahoo.
Under Health > Crawl Errors & Stats, you can see how the Googlebot crawls your website’s pages and lets you know about any errors it encounters. You will definitely want to take note of any URLs not found – these are URLs on your website that result in a 404 error. Not only is it bad for the Googlebot, it’s also bad for your visitors. Be sure to clear up as many of these as you can by creating redirects to the appropriate URLs or remove internal links as needed.
Under Reports & Data > Crawl Information, you can see if the Bingbot has encountered any errors on your website including possible malware (Google has a separate report for this under the Health section). One nice feature in Bing’s crawl report over Google’s is that it will show you the number of links to pages that have errors – this can help you determine which ones to fix first as they might be ones that actual visitors to your website are also encountering.
Curious about how your website ranks in search for particular keywords, number of impressions, and the click through rate for those keywords? Both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools will provide you with those queries – both reports can come in handy to fill the gap since Google introduced the (not provided) keyword in Google Analytics.
Under Traffic > Search Queries, you can see the keywords that led to the most impressions of your website in organic search on Google for the last 30 days up to 3 months. You can sort the table of keywords alphabetically or by number of impressions, clicks, click through rate, and average position in search. You can also click on the search query to see what pages each query displayed to visitors along with those page’s individual impressions, clicks, and click through rates.
Under Reports & Data > Search Keywords, you can find a similar report in Bing on the keywords that appeared in organic search for the last 30 days up to 6 months. You can sort the table of keywords alphabetically or by clicks from search, number of times they appeared in search, click through rate, average click position, and average search position. You can also click the View link next to each keyword to see what pages each query displayed to visitors along with those page’s individual stats.
Alternatively, you can also go to Reports & Data > Page Traffic to see your top pages in organic search with the same statistics for each. Then click View to see what keywords led to visits on those pages. This report can be more useful if you are trying to determine your top content in search results vs. just your top keywords.
Google and Bing both allow you to explore incoming links to your website counted by each search engine. The count itself varies greatly – for my website, Google reported over 2.6 million total links whereas Bing reported only 34,000. Comparing both to Open Site Explorer’s count of just over 24,000 can be just as confusing.
Under Traffic > Links to Your Site, Google groups links by domains linking to your website the most and pages on your website that are linked to the most. Unfortunately, they separate how your data is linked, aka anchor text, from these two groups of information. Google’s incoming link count is very comprehensive – they seem to count every page on every domain linking to you, even if a domain has a sitewide link. You can also export your links in CSV or Google Docs. Google also has an Internal Links report under the Traffic section that shows which internal links are used the most on your website.
Bing Webmaster Tools shows your website’s incoming links sorted by the target page. What’s nice about their reporting is when you click on a target page, you will see the websites linking to that page along with the anchor text used for those links. You can export this information in CSV format and have a better understanding of the links coming to your website and your anchor text distribution, similar to what you would get from third party tools like Open Site Explorer.
On-site search optimization is just as important as your link building strategy if you want to rank well on either Google or Bing. Reviewing the following optimization tips offered in both search engine’s Webmaster Tools can help you determine which elements are most important to help you boost your rankings.
Under Optimization > HTML Improvements, Google offers a simple interface for the most important issues Google thinks you should address on your website. If you click on each of the hyperlinked elements, you can learn more about how to solve each issue as well as see the pages identified as needing improvement.
Bing offers two different optimization tools. The first is SEO Reports under Reports & Data. Similar to Google, Bing lists the problems it notices. Clicking on each of the hyperlinked elements will take you to a more detailed page about how to fix these issues along with the pages identified as needing improvement.
Under Diagnostics & Tools, you will find the SEO Analyzer which offers a visual guide to your website’s optimization needs. Here, you can enter any page on your website, from your homepage to your most important pages to see what Bing suggests you fix. You can click on the Page Source to see specific highlighted segments of code where the optimization needs to be added.
There you have it – some of the most useful reports and data within Webmaster Tools provided by both Google and Bing. Which one do you use the most often and find the most informative?