Today they released an updated UI!

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]

It’s not secret that the most effective bloggers leverage all of the major webmaster tools available them. Sadly most bloggers only use Google Webmaster Tools and even less of those users actually know what they are doing!

But I thought I’d share a few tips on how I use it and also a look at the backend so you can see what you’re potentially missing out on.

For starters, after you install the correct Bing meta data, you’ll see the main dashboard with your site and some of the top-level statistics that you’ll care about the most:

I like green arrows.

Here’s what they represent:

  • Clicks (%) – Site visits attained through users clicking the link impression displayed in the Bing search engine result pages (SERPs)
  • Impressions (%) – Site link impressions displayed by Bing SERPs (regardless whether they were clicked)
  • Pages Indexed (%) – Pages indexed (crawled and indexed)
  • Pages Crawled (%) – Pages crawled (regardless whether they were indexed)

As long as things are in the positive direction (green arrow up) you should be good to go! Let’s take a closer look:

Global view.

The Dashboard is where you start and you’ll be able to find all of the major areas of the webmaster tools.

Let’s go ahead and jump into each are really quickly.

1. Crawl Summary

The Crawl Summary is where you can review up to six months of crawl data as well as any errors that the Bing bots find.

Bing Webmaster Tools Crawl Summary

One of the most interesting things to note are the apparent dips and surges of crawl information during certain periods of time.

I can tell you, for example, that the July 24th dip was an outage that I experienced that must have been at the same time a crawl attempt was made.

Big increase earlier this week too.

There was also a huge increase of crawl errors this past week as I had some downtime as well (nearly 24 hours!). There wasn’t much I could do and I was hit hard by some crawl errors.

The Crawl Settings is something that I have customized to take advantage of my particular posting schedule and might be something you want to consider doing as well:

Crawl Settings

As you can see I’ve increased the crawl rate to the maximum level around noon of each day since I typically publish at least the first post of the day before noon. I want to make sure that Bing takes note of this new post as soon as I possibly can.

I then release a second post throughout the day, at varying times, and want those to be crawled ASAP as well. Finally, I ask Bing to maximize crawling one more time before the day starts to take advantage of any post updates/changes as well as any new comments made on the posts.

The last two sections, Crawl Details and Sitemaps is good to review now and again to make sure you have no significant errors to adjust and update:

Whoops. One error!

As you can see I have 1 page with an error! I’ve since fixed it.

Another error here...

And with my Sitemaps I have an error that was found so I’ll just update that in just a sec to make sure it’s passing value.

Done and done with the Crawl Summary!

2. Index Summary

Starting with the summary you should see a steady increase of indexed pages as you blog consistently and as your blog grows. If you see a negative trend then this is a signifiant problem and must be addressed!

Up, up, and up!

One of the most areas of this section is the Index Explorer which you can specify by type of HTTP Codes to see what Bing has indexed and uncovered including the following:

  • All HTTP codes (default filter setting)
  • HTTP codes 200-299 (success codes)
  • HTTP codes 300-300 (redirection codes)
  • HTTP code 301 (permanently moved pages code)
  • HTTP code 302 (temporarily moved pages code)
  • HTTP codes 400-499 (client error codes)
  • HTTP codes 500-599 (server error codes)
  • All other HTTP codes (such as 1xx or informational codes)

For example, a recently review showed three 404 error pages:

Doh!

I was able to quickly fix these links via redirection and I’m now good to go!

I also like to see an increasing number of Inbound Links as well:

Good to go.

Perhaps what’s more interesting is that I can dive into each link and see who’s linking and what keywords they are using for that particular anchor text link:

Fascinating.

You can then Export this data and see how many per keyword is coming in and the relative strength related to all other keywords via Microsoft Excel or another data app. I’ve done this a few times on specific posts to see how I can optimize those links for better SEO.

All the other options and panels in Index Summary are not used very much by me:

  • Submit URLs
  • Block URLs
  • Deep Links
  • URL Normalization

I probably could spend more time in these areas but I’ve only used it a handful of times to block specific URLs from showing up in search (test URLs and private pages) and since I’ve spent a lot of time on canonicalization with my blog post permalinks and blog post slugs I don’t need much normalization.

3. Traffic Summary

The final tab in Bing Webmaster Tools is the Traffic Summary section:

Wow, a huge increase...!

If you’ve been keeping track many of you (all of you) should have seen a big bump in traffic and pageviews around the 14th and 15th of this month!

The reason? Bing is now adding together both your Bing and Yahoo! sourced traffic. I mentioned previously how the two are going to be “essentially” the same search engine with Yahoo! being powered by Bing’s software in early of next year but the gap is already closing as they announced it publicly a few days ago:

Bing Webmaster Tools will now be showing integrated data from Yahoo within certain areas and reports.  Given the combined effort the Search Alliance represents, it makes sense to showcase relevant data from both engines within a webmaster account.

The areas affected are on the Traffic Tab, the Traffic summary report, and the Page Traffic reports:

  1. Impressions – will go up based on combined data numbers
  2. Clicks – will go up based on combined data numbers
  3. Click Through Rates (CTR) as appropriate from above (change only due to the mathematics involved in the first two items)

Easy enough!

Finally, it’s worth noting that I do spend time in the Page Traffic area in Bing Webmaster Tools:

A good place to spend some time.

What I do here is look at the top pages (or blog posts) and track trends over time.

I also might try to accelerate increasing blog posts trends in a number of ways such as increasing internal links to those posts, doing guest posts with those keywords, or sharing them via social sharing networks like Twitter a few more times that week to see if I can get a bump.

So that’s a quick overview of Bing Webmaster Tools and how I use it weekly to optimize my blog for SEO and Bing.

How about you? What have you done in terms of Bing Webmaster Tools? Is this something you can include more in your daily/weekly/monthly workflow?

[This is part of the The Blogger’s Essential Guide to Search Engine Optimization Series.]