Sitemaps

Sitemaps are an excellent way to tell Bing about URLs on your site that would be otherwise hard to discover by our web crawler. There are several formats you can use as Sitemaps to submit to Bing:

Submit Sitemaps to Bing

You have a few options to submit sitemaps to Bing:

  1. By advertising the sitemap in your robots.txt file using a Sitemap: directive
  2. By pinging Bing using a HTTP request
  3. From inside your Bing Webmaster Tools account, either directly from the Sitemap widget on your site’s Dashboard or from within the full-fledged Sitemaps feature

We will get back to the first two options later. First, let’s look at how to submit and manage sitemaps from within your Bing Webmaster Tools account:

Submitting Sitemaps from your Dashboard

You can submit your sitemap from within the Dashboard for your site in Webmaster Tools. Look for the Sitemaps widget and click Submit a Sitemap to show a text box in which you can enter the location of your sitemap file. Usually, the sitemap location will look something like http:www.contoso.com/sitemap.xml if it is an XML Sitemap or http://www.contoso.com/sitemap.txt if you’ve created a text file instead.  Either type will work equally well.

Submit Sitemap from within the Dashboard

If you have an RSS feed that is automatically updated as you publish your content it can also be submitted here.  This is useful as it will help us capture fresh content every time you publish content.  Simply copy and paste the URL for your RSS feed into the submission form and click Submit.

 

Submitting Sitemaps from the Sitemaps Feature

In addition to submitting sitemaps from your Dashboard, you can submit and manage your sitemaps in Sitemaps feature inside Webmaster Tools located in the Configure My Site section in the navigation pane.  In Sitemaps, you can submit a sitemap as follows:

  1. Enter the full URL of the sitemap in the Submit a Sitemap text box
  2. Click Submit
Submit Sitemap (Contoso.com)

After you have submitted, the sitemap will be added to the list of sitemaps. Initially the status will be Pending. After Bing has fetched and processed the sitemap, we will update the status and the other details such as how many URLs we discovered while highlighting any issues encountered.  If you see an exclamation mark in front of a status you can see additional information about an error or issue we encountered by hovering over the icon.

Note: processing submitted sitemaps takes time and can take from a few hours up to a few days.

Resubmit

You can resubmit an already submitted sitemap by selecting the checkbox in front of the sitemap URL and clicking Resubmit.

XML Sitemap Indexes

If the sitemap URL you submitted points to an a XML Sitemap Index, you can click on the Sitemap URL and see details for all contained sitemaps.

 

Using a Sitemap: Reference in Robots.txt

You can also leave a reference to your sitemap in your site’s robot.txt file. To do so, simply add the following line to your robots.txt, replacing the example sitemap location with the location of your sitemap or sitemap index:

Sitemap: http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml

For more information on robot.txt files, please refer to robotstxt.org

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Pinging Bing Using a HTTP request

If you have an automated system that generates your sitemap, you may find it easier to inform Bing about your sitemap by sending a HTTP request. Using your favorite method to send the request, use the following URL, replacing the example with your sitemap location and URL encoding everything behind the sitemap parameter:

http://www.bing.com/ping?sitemap=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.example.com/sitemap.xml

The server will respond with HTTP Status 200 (OK) if the submission was successful. Unlike the submission options inside Webmaster Tools you will not get any information about the validity about the actual sitemap itself.

noteNote
If you’d like more programmatic flexibility consider using the Bing Webmaster API and its methods to submit and get details about sitemaps.

XML Sitemap versus RSS Feeds

When to use XML Sitemaps?

XML Sitemaps are the best way of providing Bing with a comprehensive "snapshot" of all relevant URLs on your site at a given time. Ideally, this snapshot is updated daily to keep the snapshot fresh, so that it always contains the latest/greatest overview of all your published URLs.

When to use RSS (or Atom) Feeds?

On the other hand, RSS and Atom feeds are the preferred way of informing us about brand new URLs on your site. Ideally, the RSS or Atom feed is generated in real-time and contains only your most recent new pages or posts. You can use this fresh RSS or Atom feed in combination with a comprehensive XML Sitemap.

noteNote
Although the URLs contained inside your XML Sitemap, RSS, or Atom feed naturally can change to reflect either the latest snapshot of your site or the last published pages or posts, the URL of the submitted Sitemap or feed should stay the same over time. You should not use date stamps or other incremental post-fixes inside the name of the XML Sitemap or feed that cause the URL to change each time you generate them.