If you work in web design or web development, then you probably can’t help but snarl when saying “Internet Explorer”. You might also share our aversion to any IE-related applications such as Microsoft/Yahoo’s Bing search engine. We have largely ignored Bing in favour of Google, but we keep our minds open to anything that might affect SEO.
Just this month, Bing has released the ‘Phoenix’ update for its Webmaster Tools. The interface has been overhauled and optimised for usability. At first glance, it is definitely reminiscent of Google Analytics, but Bing’s interface is more straightforward. Data is much easier to access with fewer clicks required to get more in-depth information.
New (beta) features include the Link Explorer, which allows you to view the backlinks of any domain, and the SEO Analyzer/SEO Reports, which can perform an analysis of the on-page SEO of any page from one of your verified domains. The Link Explorer allows the checking of backlinks to a URL, with an option to check backlinks to any page on a domain.
The Bing Webmaster Tools also include a tool for doing keyword research with organic search results (results that exclude data from adCenter), as well as a built-in markup validator with results that display the page you validated as it appears in the browser with convenient annotations that contain deeper information you can access simply by hovering over certain data.
While these tools exist elsewhere on the internet – and many of them are available in Google Adwords or Google Analytics – it is very handy to have such tools integrated to an SEO suite. As a package, it’s very attractive. It was attractive enough for me to test it out with our site. Initially, because of a bug, I wasn’t able to view any data. At the time of posting this, however, the bug seems to be fixed and I can really see the value of using Bing Webmaster Tools.
The value of Bing-specific data.
Google dominates search; there’s no doubt about that. However, Internet Explorer is the default browser on any new computer running Windows. Since IE has integrated Bing as its search engine, Bing has a large automatic user-base made up of people who either don’t know the difference between – or don’t know how to change – browsers. However, Bing is nowhere close to Google in terms of their users.
Google has about 60-70% of the market share while Bing has roughly 20-30%. Is it worth doing two sets of keyword research when the keyword research I can do through Google is relevant to 60-70% of searchers rather than the 20-30% using Bing? If keyword research results from Bing are different from Google’s, should I simply ignore the data altogether?
The question on my mind is how relevant the data I’m getting from Bing really is. How similar Bing and Google were regarding how they rank and index pages? I found a great article on SEO moz detailing the commonalities between Google and Bing. To summarize their findings, Google and Bing are quite similar, with the two becoming increasingly more similar as time goes on (more likely a case of Bing become more like Google than the other way around).
I take the findings as confirmation that it’s not a waste of time to play with Bing’s Webmaster Tools, which makes me happy because I really like the simplicity of its interface and the depth of the data it provides. I wonder if we’ll see some changes from Google Analytics and Google Adwords in an attempt to provide a similar application that merges the two. Exciting!