Bing Launches (Weakly) Connected Pages

by Aaron Bradley on November 20, 2013

in Search Engines, Social Media

Bing Launches (Weakly) Connected Pages

Bing announced on their Webmaster Blog that users are now able to "connect" their official social pages to a corresponding verified site in Bing Webmaster Tools. In addition to the announcement Bing has also published a "how to" page on Connected Pages.

Once a page has been successfully connected to a verified site, Bing Webmaster Tools will then allow webmasters too see "an overview of how many impressions and clicks you are getting not only for your main website, but also for each of these connected pages."

At first blush this may seem like Bing is taking a page out of Google's book, where various methods can be used to establish the ownership of sites connected through a Google+ Profile or Page.

However, despite their liberal use of the word "verify" these connected pages aren't really robustly verified in the sense that, say, a website is connected to a Google+ Page by using rel="publisher" (which is why I keep using the word "verify" in quotation marks).

Here's how the announcement describes the process to connect pages.

Currently, you can connect a wide range of page types to your verified website, provided that they contain a link that points back to your verified website (the main URL), or at a minimum – a page that lives on your main website. We won't ask you to enter any passwords or provide us with any extended permissions to your social media accounts to establish this connection, but the link inside the connected page needs to match in the sense that the link needs to point back to the root of or a sub-page within your verified website. Obviously, to check this, we also need to be able to extract the link from each of the connected pages, so the page needs to be accessible from the web and not block our verifier in any way.

(While only older readers may fully appreciate this sentiment, the directions for connecting accounts to a Webmaster Tools-verified website very much fall into the "reads like stereo instructions" category.)

I attempted this procedure with this blog, adding my Twitter and Google+ accounts.

Attempting to connect my Twitter and Google+ accounts to SEO Skeptic in Bing Webmaster Tools

However, the "verification" of my Google+ account failed.

Failure notice when trying to connect Bing Wembaster Tools to Google+

While my Google+ account does indeed contain "a link that points back to your verified website" I thought "verification" may have failed because that link only exists on my "about" page on Google+. I changed the site-wide SEO Skeptic link to Google+ to point to my Google+ page, but still Bing complained when I tried to connect this account.

It turns out that another page – in Bing's eyes – is linked to my Google+ account.

Bing Connected Pages Fail

So two things here. One, it appears that only one external page per account type can be connected to a site verified in Bing Webmaster Tools. Two – and this is obviously problematic – a link from a page to your Webmaster Tools-verified site can be considered a "verified" connected site, even if you didn't place that link.

This demonstrates to me as much as anything else the wisdom of Google creating its own verified identity network (Google+), rather than following down Bing's path of partnering with other networks that support verified identities (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter).

Ultimately, while Google and Bing's Webmaster Tools are analogous in that they support site verification, Google has a leg up on Bing insofar as they also support identity verification. That is, Bing lacks a central identity hub analogous to Google+ (or hubs if you consider Google+ Profiles and Pages separately), and so has to resort to pseudo-verification methods to link identities to websites.

Which is unfortunate, because the data provided by Bing Webmaster Tools for a successfully connected page is at least interesting, and potentially helpful: the connected page's appearance in search results, clicks from search, top search keywords associated with the page and (perhaps most interesting) links to the connected page.

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