The testing is currently affecting a quarter of Yahoo's search traffic and, while not site-wide, Microsoft is warning on its blog that webmasters should be diligent in making sure that their sites are showing up in search results correctly, lest they be left behind. To that end, Microsoft is releasing a completely redesigned version of its Bing Webmaster Tools.
Microsoft is warning webmasters that, just because their site showed up as they wanted on Yahoo search does not mean it will be the same for Yahoo search when it is powered by Bing and there are a few steps they should take:
During this testing phase, it's important to look at how your site is showing up in search results on Yahoo! and Bing today, so you can assess if there are any tweaks you need to make or feedback you need to share with the team to make sure your site is accurately represented in Bing's results. In particular, now is a good time for you to review your crawl policies in your robots.txt and ensure that you have identical polices for the msnbot/Bingbot and Yahoo's bots. Just to note, you should not see an increase in bingbot traffic as a result of the transition.
The updated webmaster tools give webmasters control over three areas: crawl, index and traffic. Through the use of these tools, webmasters can control how and where their website shows up in Bing search results, as well as look at traffic on the search engine. Here's Microsoft's explanation:
Index Explorer gives you unprecedented access to browse through the Bing index in order to verify which of your directories and pages have been included. Submit URLs gives you the ability to signal which URLs Bing should add to the index. Other new features include: Crawl Issues to view details on redirects, malware, and exclusions encountered while crawling sites; and Block URLs to prevent specific URLs from appearing in Bing search engine results pages. In addition, the new tools take advantage of Microsoft Silverlight 4 to deliver rich charting functionality that will help you quickly analyze up to six months of crawling, indexing, and traffic data.
When we looked at this partnership a year ago, we posited that it could create some competition for Google. In the last year, Google has lost little ground in the search marketplace, but Yahoo and Bing both hold the number two and three spots in search engine popularity worldwide. We'll see if Bing-powered search results do anything to change the status quo. In the meantime, webmasters would be wise to heed Microsoft's advice and monitor their site in the search results.