Yahoo! Sitemaps was scrapped on November 21, 2011 (actually, it was named “Yahoo! Site Explorer” but no one called it that). The system allowed website owners to submit their XML sitemaps and feeds to the search engine in the same way as Google’s Webmaster Tools.
Following last year’s partnership agreement with Microsoft, Yahoo has adopted Bing’s search engine so you’ll now be forwarded to the Bing Webmaster Tools page. There’s nothing to fear but, unfortunately, you can’t automatically transfer your old Yahoo sitemap configurations either. However, with a little preparation, each of your sites can be set-up within minutes.
First, ensure your site has an XML sitemap, RSS feed or some other machine-readable index of pages. Most Content Management Systems will generate a feed or have a decent sitemap plugin. Alternatively, you can find more information at sitemaps.org.
In most cases, XML sitemap URLs are http://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. You can aid auto-discovery by adding it to your robots.txt file in the domain’s root, e.g.
User-agent: * Sitemap: http://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
Now head over to Bing Webmaster Tools and log in with a Windows LiveID. Confusingly, you don’t need to be a Windows user or have a live.com email. If you already have a Hotmail, Messenger or Xbox LIVE account, you can log in with those credentials, otherwise, click “Sign up” and follow the instructions.
When you first log in you’ll be prompted to set your preferences. Once that’s complete, click the Add Site button and enter the domain name of your first site. You’ll then need to verify ownership by uploading a file, changing a meta tag on your home page, or modifying the domain’s DNS settings:
In most circumstances, uploading a verification file is the easiest option because the same one can be used for all your domains. So, download BingSiteAuth.xml then upload it to the root folder of every domain you want to register. (Optional step: you can also remove the old Yahoo verification file — it’ll be named y_key_random-hex-code.html).
Now, from the Home tab, click “Add Site” and enter the domain names for all of your sites in turn. Assuming you uploaded the BingSiteAuth.xml first, you won’t be prompted to verify each site again.
If you’re lucky, Bing will automatically locate and configure every sitemap. In my experience, it found most; I’m not sure whether it was reading the robots.txt file, looking for sitemap.xml or retrieving old Yahoo configuration data. However, it didn’t always find the correct URL so it’s worth checking — and it will give you a chance to add other feeds:
- Click any site to enter it’s Dashboard.
- Click the Crawl tab, followed by the Sitemaps (XML, Atom, RSS) link.
- Check that your feed(s) are listed. If they’re not, click Add Feed and enter the URL.
- Now check all your other sites by clicking the domain drop-down and selecting each in turn.
Unless you have hundreds of domains, the whole process should take no more than a couple of hours. Once your sites have been configured, analysis, traffic and indexing data is normally available within a few days. With luck, it’ll also improve your positions in Bing.
Craig is a freelance UK web consultant who built his first page for IE2.0 in 1995. Since that time he's been advocating standards, accessibility, and best-practice HTML5 techniques. He's created enterprise specifications, websites and online applications for companies and organisations including the UK Parliament, the European Parliament, the Department of Energy & Climate Change, Microsoft, and more. He's written more than 1,000 articles for SitePoint and you can find him @craigbuckler.
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