We’ve been seeing a huge number of customer websites get deindexed from Bing. In this post we’ll share our approach to getting them deindexed.
While Bing probably only generates 3-5% of traffic for most websites, its index also powers other 2nd tier search engines like DuckDuckGo which can often generate even more traffic than Bing and is especially important for some website niches, particularly if you’re targeting a more tech savvy audience.
Note that the steps below assume your site is still indexed in Google and you’re not doing anything silly like no-indexing the entire site which essentially tells search engines to remove you.
Why is Bing de-indexing sites?
It’s not clear why Bing is so de-index happy. We’re not sure if it’s a bug or some sort of SEO penalty.
Our own website got deindexed by Bing and their crawler kept coming back and crawling the site as if it was indexed fine. We also had a Bing Places listing which continued to rank and appear in their SERP whilst pointing to our website.
Even now the site has been reindexed, we’re not fully sure of why it was deindexed in the first place but it *seems* like Bing is a lot less tolerant of technical SEO issues whereas Google seems to have ways of overcoming all sorts of weird and wonderful SEO and indexation problems.
Sidenote – we initially spent some time using the IndexNow feature of Rankmath but that had no success either. If you’re not familiar, IndexNow is an API endpoint from Bing and Yandex to help improve indexation, more details here. Rankmath also have an instant indexing plugin to improve indexation in Google, definitely worth checking it out if SEO is important to you.
How to get Bing to re-index your site
Here’s the approach we’ve used with roughly a 75% success rate. It’s how we got our site reindexed and a number of client sites reindexed too.
1. Confirm whether you have a Bing indexation problem
Check to see if your site has an indexation problem in Bing. Head to Bing.com, type in site:domain.com (replace with your domain) and see what appears.
If the number of results roughly matches the number of pages on your site, then great. If you get nothing or only a few pages indexed, you’re probably suffering from this indexation problem. You can doublecheck the indexation by doing the same search in duckduckgo.com
2. Have a working XML sitemap file
Make sure your site has a working an up to date sitemap file. We often see weird site setups where they’re using both an SEO plugin like Yoast or Rankmath and then also using a sitemap plugin. This combo often breaks the sitemap or leads to a sitemap that is old and out of date.
Make sure your sitemap.xml or sitemap_index.xml file works, shows your recent posts with the correct dates and also isn’t including categories of pages it shouldn’t. The sitemap also needs to load reasonably fast. We often see sites with 1000+ pages have a sitemap that takes 30 seconds to load which is essentially useless.
Make sure your sitemap is included in your robots.txt file, if not, add this line (edit appropriately for your site)
3. Check your robots.txt for weird issues
Many of the sites we saw get deindexed had slightly incorrect robots.txt files. Generally, they had disallows for things that should have been noindexed instead and in some cases crawl delays that probbly shouldn’t have been there.
As a general rule, we recommend using robots noindex tags and not robots.txt disallows to stop things appearing in the search results. That said, we do lean heavily on robots.txt for blocking crawlers hitting things like query strings used by search features and filters.
While you’re at it, make sure your site is not injecting noindex robots tags
4. Make sure your site 404s correctly
Some webmasters and SEOs think that all 404 errors are bad and will use plugins that will 301 redirect all 404 errors to the homepage. This is not ideal and there are plenty of instances where pages and URLs should genuinely return a 404 error.
Your site needs to 404 correctly showing both a 404 page and 404 server status code. There have been some instances we saw where servers were not correctly returning 404 status codes. Bing is not likely checking for this but it’s likely more a case of crawlers getting into weird redirect loops or encountering huge numbers of redirects due to this redirect everything to the homepage approach
5. Setup a Bing Webmaster Tools account
Goto https://www.bing.com/webmasters/about, set an account and add your website. Once you’ve verified the site, add your sitemap and check any of the options in the admin console and make sure they’re setup appropriately for your site.
About 50% of the sites got reindexed within 1-2 weeks of us getting to this step.
6. Log a ticket with Bing support
Unlike Google, Bing search does actually have support. If you’ve done all these steps, log a ticket with their support team. You can do this here – https://www.bing.com/webmasters/help/webmaster-support-24ab5ebf (if this link no longer works, there is a Contact Us at the bottom of the Bing Webmaster console)
It took a couple of weeks for Bing to get back to us after logging a ticket in most cases but this step generally got us upto a 75% success rate.
7. Check your Uptime + other technical SEO elements
If you’re still not reindexed by this step, here’s a few things to try:
- Get uptime monitoring in place to ensure your site is going offline all the time – uptimerobot.com has a free plan
- Test your site in our tool sitespeedbot.com, it’ll probe for a variety of technical SEO issues
- Check Google Search Console for errors under the Indexing->Pages link in the left menu. As I already mentioned, Google seems much more tolerant of indexation issues than Bing – there’s a whole section in Google Search Console dedicated to errors its crawlers encountered while trying to index your site.
Want it done for you?
If you need help with this here’s a handful of options for you:
- Our Micro SEO Audit service – with this service you get an 8-10 minute screen recording video detailing opportunities and roadblocks or how to resolve the specific issue you’re stuck on.
- Our Quickfix Service – get help with your website from one of our specialist WordPress developers
- Site Speed Consultation & Implementation – with our consult and implementation service, we do an upfront audit and analysis on your site, create a detailed action plan, book in a call to discuss implementation in detail and then our team can implement the work or if you have an existing development team, work with them on implementation.
- Detailed Technical SEO & Onpage SEO Audit -we’ve designed this service specifically to uncover hidden technical problems, identify untapped opportunities and give you a detailed action plan that will make implementation easy. You walk away with a clear action plan and list of priorities that can be implemented by you and your team. Alternatively, we can do the implementation for you in a 3 month implementation sprint.