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Bing Announces Enhanced Robots.txt Testing Tool

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Bing announced an enhanced Robots.txt tester tool. The tool fills an important need because getting a robots.txt wrong can result in unexpected SEO outcomes. Producing a perfect robots.txt file is essential and a top priority for SEO.

A robots.txt file is a file that tells search engine crawlers what to do and not do on a website. A robots.txt file is one of the few ways a publisher can exercise control over search engines.

Screenshot of Bing Robots.txt Testing Tool

Screenshot of Bing robots.txt tester tool

Even if you don’t need to block a search crawler, it’s still important to have one in order to not generate a needless 404 error log notation.

Mistakes on a Robots.txt file can result in search engines crawling pages they shouldn’t be indexing.

Unintended entries in a robots.txt file can also result in web pages not ranking because they are accidentally blocked.

Errors in a robots.txt file are a common source of search ranking problems. That’s why it is so important that Bing’s enhanced robots.txt tester tool

Be Proactive with Robots.txt Testing and Diagnostics

Publishers can now be proactive about reviewing and testing their Robots.txt files.

Testing to see how a search crawler responds to a robots.txt and diagnosing possible issues are important features that can help a publisher’s SEO.

This tool can also be helpful for search auditing consultants to help them identify possible issues that need correcting.

Bing’s new tool fills an important need, as described by Bing:

“While robots exclusion protocol gives the power to inform web robots and crawlers which sections of a website should not be processed or scanned, the growing number of search engines and parameters have forced webmasters to search for their robots.txt file amongst the millions of folders on their hosting servers, editing them without guidance and finally scratching heads as the issue of that unwanted crawler still persists.”

These are the actions that the Bing robots.txt tool takes to provide actionable information:

  1. Analyze robots.txt
  2. Identify problems
  3. Guides publishers through the fetch and uploading process.
  4. Checks allow/disallow statements

According to Bing:

“The Robots.txt tester helps webmasters to not only analyse their robots.txt file and highlight the issues that would prevent them from getting optimally crawled by Bing and other robots; but, also guides them step-by-step from fetching the latest file to uploading the same file at the appropriate address.

Webmasters can submit a URL to the robots.txt Tester tool and it operates as Bingbot and BingAdsBot would, to check the robots.txt file and verifies if the URL has been allowed or blocked accordingly.”

A useful feature of the robots.txt tester tool is that it displays four versions of the robots.txt in the editor that correspond to the secure and insecure version of with and without the WWW prefix, i.e.

  • http://
  • https://
  • http://www
  • https://www.

Read the official announcement:

Bing Webmaster Tools Makes it Easy to Edit and Verify Your Robots.txt

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BING

New Microsoft Bing Travel Search Features

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Microsoft Bing announced new travel search features including suggested itineraries and inspiration, 360 immersive views, drink and dining information and coupons and deals. This currently is live in the United States.

Here is what is new with these new travel search features in Bing.

Suggested itineraries & inspiration

You should see a section named “What to see & do” for the trip duration to get an idea of what your trip might look like, Microsoft said. You can also click on “Book flights” or “Book hotels” to get a full-page booking experience.

Here is a screenshot:

Coupons & deals

Microsoft partnered with various sites to show competitive rates for your travel. They also offer packages of bundled hotel and flight experiences. You can also scroll down to the “Coupons & Deals” section to browse cost-conscious options for flights, trip packages, and more.

360 immersive views

Bing also shows “stunning landscapes” it says when you click “Experience in 360” to check out immersive views. Here is a screenshot:

Drink & dining information

There is also the “Eat & Drink” search carousel to start getting excited about the dishes and beverages you can expect to taste, Microsoft said. Here is what this looks like:

click for full size

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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Edge goes on to inform Microsoft of the searches you do in the browser …

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Microsoft Edge can send, by default, to Microsoft the results of any search you do in the browser. The feature is not limited to Bing Search, but informs Microsoft about searches across all search engines, including Google, DuckDuckGo, or StartPage, performed by Edge users, if the setting is enabled.

A gHack reporter opened Microsoft Edge today and saw that Microsoft Edge Support showed him a pop-up window shortly after launch. I was telling him that he could help Microsoft improve search and that Microsoft “will collect the results of the searches you do in the browser to improve Microsoft products and services. ”

This announcement also clarified that the data collected by Microsoft are “never associated” with the user or the device.

Indeed, the journalist accessed the settings and there he verified that Microsoft Edge had activated this possibility, which was previously deactivated. Personally, I have checked it in my browser and the feature remains disabled, so It is recommended that each Edge user take a look at their configuration.

Where to turn this tracking feature on and off

The setting in question It’s called “Helping Improve Microsoft Products by Submitting Search Results to the Web”, and is in the privacy section. Access your Edge browser and click on the three horizontal points in the upper right corner. Access the settings. Once inside the configuration, look in the right column for the option “Privacy, search and services”.

Several options appear where you can go controlling your privacy in various areas of browser use (For example, I found out now that I had activated the option to allow sites to check if they have saved payment methods “something that I am not interested in having activated). And right there you can see if the function is activated that says like this:”help improve Microsoft products by submitting web search results“. If the tab is blank and to the left, it is deactivated. If it is blue and to the right it is activated. There you can decide what to do.

With it enabled, Microsoft can collect Microsoft can collect the term you are looking for, search results shown to you, your interaction with search results, including links clicked, and demographics, based on information specific to Microsoft.

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Microsoft Bing just got a nice little upgrade, but you still won’t use it

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Microsoft is adding a number of new travel-related features to its Bing search engine to help you save time and money when booking your next trip.

Planning a trip can be an exhausting process as you often have to visit one site to get inspiration, another to book flights and yet another to check out travel maps. For this reason, Microsoft has created a one-stop travel shop in Bing that provides aggregated information about destinations, itineraries, flights, hotels and more all in a visually rich format.

The software giant’s Travel Guide serves as a jumping-off point for all of your trip-planning needs. You can see suggested itineraries under the “What to see & do” section or click on “Book flights” or “Book hotels” to get a full-page booking experience.

As Microsoft has partnered with top travel industry players to help you find competitive rates, you can be sure you’re getting the best prices. Also, if you’re pressed for time, Bing now offers bundled hotel and flight packages to make booking a breeze.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Travel Guide home page

If you just want to plan a future trip without a specific destination in mind, Bing’s Travel Guide home page is a great starting point to find further inspiration. The page rotates through top destinations worldwide and if one catches your eye, you can click on “Explore more” to visit the detailed page for that place.

Those seeking stunning landscapes can click on “Experience in 360” to check out immersive views of potential destinations while those more interested in a destination’s local cuisine can explore Bing’s “Eat & Drink” carousel to see all of the dishes and beverages they can taste there. Meanwhile, travelers on a budget can scroll down to the “Coupons & Deals” section to browse cost-conscious options for flights, trip packages and more.

Although you may not be traveling anywhere anytime soon, at least you’ll be properly prepared for your next trip.

Bing’s new travel experience is currently only available in the US though Microsoft plans to make it available in more markets in the near future according to a new blog post.

Author: Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal and TechRadar. He has been a tech enthusiast for as long as he can remember and has spent countless hours researching and tinkering with PCs, mobile phones and game consoles.

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