Connected Pages: is Bing Webmaster Tools becoming as useful as Google’s?
Data is quickly disappearing from Google’s Analytics program, while rival search engine Bing is going to great lengths to provide webmasters with more information on the people who visit their sites.
In addition to tracking websites you own using Bing’s Webmaster Tools, since the end of November you can measure traffic to your social profiles too. This includes keyword search data – now almost completely missing from Google Analytics – as well as a host of other information to compliment the extensive list of other useful information you didn’t know Bing gave you.
How useful is tracking information around social profiles though? Well, with earned media representing up to 80 percent of your potential reach, you need all the data you can get on channels you own in order to make them most of them and provide positive ROI. Does Bing deliver on its promise?
Track more of your owned media using Bing WMT
Brands are regularly advised to sign up for social networks in order to occupy as many of the first page results when users Google their names; not just to ensure they’re capturing as much traffic as possible (which you can now measure in Bing at least), but to prevent potential customers spotting negative press and reviews.
Enter a brand name into Google and autosuggest implies that people who want to find the brand’s Twitter profile will search for it specifically e.g., “branded3 twitter”. That is of course if people are using a search engine like Google or Bing to find social profiles; people are more likely to use Twitter and Facebook’s own internal search functions (one reason why it’s very useful to get verified).
We’ve had more than a month to play with the new data in Bing WMT, and we’ve already noticed a couple of patterns across many of our clients’ websites.
Twitter and Facebook appear in 2x searches compared to Google+
Twitter pages and Facebook profiles typically appear in twice as many search results as Google+ and YouTube. Interestingly, this is true of both Bing and Google – the knowledge graph makes it easy to follow a brand on Google’s social network, but even in Google you can’t rely on a Plus profile to take up valuable search real estate. For example, a brand search for “branded3” links to our Google+ profile right next to the organic search results, but an organic listing doesn’t appear until the penultimate result on the 4th page (when not signed in).
Google realises that there are 40 things that users would rather see than Google+.
In fact, Bing is significantly more likely to display a Google+ listing on the first page of organic search results for a brand search than Google is.
Twitter and Facebook show up 10x more than LinkedIn – even for B2B brands
Twitter and Facebook pages appear ten times more often than LinkedIn, even for B2B brands. However, when it comes to B2B brands with visible staff, multiple LinkedIn profiles regularly appear in Google search results before Google+ does. How useful this is on an analytical level is debatable, but it’s certainly no bad thing that your people are put in front of your customers. After all, people close deals, not pages.
Bearing in mind what percentage of a brand’s SERPs are covered in pages that you can connect to Bing Webmaster Tools, it could be interesting to see what kind of keywords those social profiles could be considered relevant for. There is a lack of meaningful analytics for Twitter, and Facebook insights shows referring sites and little else, so an indication of what people think your social profiles are relevant for on a keyword level could be useful.
Facebook shows referring sites, but no keywords.
The problem is that it’s potentially very difficult to spot keyword opportunities using Bing WMT for two reasons:
- There is comparatively little organic search traffic reaching your social accounts
- The traffic that is arriving will be overwhelmingly brand-centric
Furthermore, the data visible courtesy of Bing is not actionable for those social profiles – it’s really hard to optimise a Twitter page for clicks in the way you would a website, for example.
Bing Webmaster Tools is becoming useful for opportunity analysis, but this is 2014: we’re not talking about keywords.
The inbound links reports have meant that signing up for Bing WMT has been useful ever since Google started handing out link penalties: Bing shows different (and by some accounts, more) links compared to those displayed in Google’s Webmaster Tools, so it can be an invaluable tool as part of a link audit when combined with the profiles displayed in Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO and so on.
However it’s now possible to see backlinks to social profiles using Bing WMT, as well as links to your website. This is useful for identifying outreach targets as you’re able to see (and export) a list of people who are already linking to you, and might be willing to link again.
As there are few good reasons to build links to a social profile, it’s a fair estimate that you are presented with a list of natural, editorial links from webmasters who believe their audience is likely to be interested in what you’ve got to say. In some cases we’ve seen the list of links can also be more extensive in Bing Webmaster Tools than in Open Site Explorer, providing even more potential outreach targets.
Is Bing Webmaster Tools becoming as useful as Google’s?
First thing’s first: I’m not advocating abandoning Google Webmaster Tools in favour of Bing. Even though Google has removed keyword data from Analytics, you can still calculate your click through rate using Google’s Webmaster Tools…but Bing’s WMT platform has its uses.
Similarly to how it takes little effort to sign up for a Twitter profile and reap the rewards of an extra space in the SERPs ahead of a bad review, signing up for Bing’s Webmaster Tools is incredibly easy (and connecting social pages is even easier still), and there’s a wealth of free data at your fingertips to compliment what you’ve already got.
More information on how to connect pages is available on Bing’s webmaster help and how to.