I am assuming that when it comes to using webmaster tools, we are likely referring to Google Webmaster Tools even though it has recently changed its identity to Google Search Console.
That’s because Google is the undisputed search engine of choice in many countries and majority of organic traffic to a typical website comes from its search results.
But let’s not count out Bing, the latest reincarnation that was originally named MSN Search, then Windows Live Search and then Live Search. Its not-so-recent integration with Yahoo! has its significance grown to more than just a bit player in the search space.
So what are the benefits of keeping track of your Bing Webmaster Tools account?
1. It offers crawl performance measurement. It is not fair to judge one tool as better than the other. And because crawling is a basic search operation that we would like to ensure our website to be as healthy as possible, Googlebot reports aren’t expected to be compatible with Bing experience.
2. It provides alternative site security report. Google Search Console is not a security tool and often relies on findings detected by its crawler Googlebot. Reports detailed there are minimal and may not contain plenty of insights.
While Bing Webmaster Tools isn’t either, it’s nice to have another alternative that is free and provided by search engines themselves. Bing also makes specific classification of security issues as phishing or malware. Google Search Console compiles all security issues as one.
3. It has keyword tools suitable for content development. Since Bing Webmaster Tools also includes Yahoo! data, we get greater insights on what works for this once-dominant search engine.
4. You can customise geo-targeting for specific domain, subdomain or folder without having to mess around with coding.
“Bing uses this information as an additional hint to other signals to determine how your pages appear in search results.”
This means you can specify a specific section of the website as intended to a country (or at least influence the Bing results from that country), even when you are not hosting them on a local country-code top level domain of that target country.
Although this is not as cumbersome as coding in Google Search Console which, on the other hand, requires the use of hreflang tags, I believe Bing implements a blanket application towards selected country regardless of language.
5. It has SEO Reports that serve as similar to Google Search Console’s Search Traffic, with available data corresponding to clicks, impressions, click-through rate and search ranking at Page Traffic. Inbound Links tally the number of links pointing to a list of pages within the domain.
6. Its Diagnostics & Tools is packed with helpful tools for research, monitoring and diagnostics. For example, it has Keyword Research tool whose data can be filtered based on region, period and language, with ‘strict’ option for exact phrases using the keyword/s entered.
It also includes Markup Validator which is a handy tool to verify presence of structured markup on a web page. Since Bing search results also display rich snippets, testing your page code’s compatibility here is a must if you wish for it to display specific formats such as Open Graph or Schema.org.
SEO Analyzer looks like a real-time crawling tool that attempts to detect any issues related to compliance with SEO best practices. This kind of complements the SEO Reports under Reports & Data which outlines issues, their severity level and corresponding recommendations.
Site Move, meanwhile, is a tool that allows webmasters to issue a directive to Bing that a specific URL has been forwarded to another URL using the recommended 301 redirection process.
To be honest, Bing Webmaster Tools has better interface than that of Google Search Console. And while categorization can be confusing if you are used to its Google counterpart, you’ll easily get used to the interface and pick out your favorite tools to use consistently.