How To Find Lower-Quality Content Being Excluded From Indexing Using Bing’s XML Sitemap Coverage Report (and Its “Content Quality” Flag)

By admin

Bing finally rolled out its XML Sitemap Coverage Report in Bing Webmaster Tools, which is a great addition for site owners. Using the report, you can check indexing levels based on the urls being submitted via

XML
ORG

sitemaps. This is similar to what

Google
ORG

offers in its

Coverage
PRODUCT

reporting, but it’s great to have another major search engine provide this data.

Hello “Content Quality” flag:

When I

first
ORDINAL

dug into the reporting, I quickly started checking urls excluded from indexing across sites. Like

Google
ORG

, Bing provides a number of categories for urls being excluded, including

noindexed
ORG

, redirected,

404s
PERSON

, and more. But

one
CARDINAL

of those categories really struck me – “Content Quality”. With “Quality” being the most important thing that site owners should focus on, understanding when a major search engine believes you have quality problems, and surfacing those specific urls, is pretty awesome.

And once you click the “Content quality” category, you can view all of the urls from that sitemap that were flagged as having content quality issues:

Bing is not

Google
ORG

, but

Bing
PERSON

is a major search engine: And will

Google
ORG

follow?

With major algorithm updates evaluating quality on several levels, having this information from Bing could potentially help site owners surface and improve lower-quality content. And with

Google
ORG

’s broad core updates, reviews updates, and now helpful content updates, digging into urls flagged as lower quality could help jumpstart a site owner’s analysis. Sure,

Bing
PERSON

is not

Google
ORG

, but the content that

Bing
PERSON

is surfacing in its Sitemap Index Coverage reporting could be a proxy for what

Google
ORG

also believes is lower-quality content. You don’t want to take that at face value, but it’s definitely worth investigating…

And maybe a bigger question is… will

Google
ORG

follow Bing here and provide a “Content Quality” category in its own Coverage reporting? I know

Google
ORG

has toyed with this idea in the past, but never officially rolled out a content quality category in

Search Console
ORG

. To be honest, I’m not sure that would ever happen, since it could reveal a bit too much of the secret sauce. I know they don’t want to provide too much link data either based on that happening.

I mean, imagine waking up

one day
DATE

and seeing this in

Google Search Console
ORG

. 🙂

Finding the Index Coverage reporting in Bing Webmaster Tools:

If you have

at least 10
CARDINAL

K urls indexed in

Bing
GPE

, then you should be able to see the index coverage reporting for your site in the Sitemaps reporting. But, based on what I’m seeing, a number of sites do not have that option. If you don’t see the option, then I would make sure you are submitting xml sitemaps in

BWT
ORG

or including a reference to them in your robots.txt file.

For example, here is a large-scale site with sitemaps in

BWT
ORG

, but the index coverage option isn’t available.

Maybe the Index Coverage reporting is still rolling out to more sites… I’ll reach out to

Bing’s Fabrice Canel
ORG

to see why those sites don’t have index coverage reporting and then update this post with more information.

Reviewing content quality problems across sites: Were the urls actually low quality?

I was eager to investigate

the “Content Quality
ORG

” category across sites to see what types of content were surfaced there. So I dug in across several sites, and across several verticals. I’ll quickly cover what I found below.

First, although many of the urls were ones that I would consider lower-quality or thin, not all were. Do not take

Bing
PERSON

’s word blindly… you definitely need to review the urls yourself. Some were exactly what I would surface as lower-quality, while others seemed ok for users (they were not great, but not terrible either)…

For example, I found the following types of lower-quality urls in the reporting across sites:

Short and unhelpful Q&A posts.


Thin
PERSON

press releases.

Thinner and dated news articles.


Spider
PRODUCT

traps. Little content leading to more thinner pages.


Ultra
ORG

-thin business or organization listing pages.

Lower-quality content focused on sensitive categories (

YMYL
PERSON

).


Thin
PERSON

video pages covered in ads.

Low-quality “reference” content.


Thin
PERSON

user profile pages.


Thin
PERSON

tutorials.

And more…

More

Ways To Find Content Quality Problems
ORG

in BWT:

After tweeting about this the other day, and thanking Fabrice Canel from Bing, he replied with an interesting note. Fabrice explained that the Index Coverage reporting wasn’t the only place you can surface content quality problems in

Bing Webmaster Tools
FAC

. He explained you can also see this when inspecting specific urls and via Site Explorer.

You are welcome @glenngabe. The same classifications are used in URL inspection, and in my favorite tool

SEO Explorer
PRODUCT

. Here is a link to

SEO Explorer
PRODUCT

filtered on content quality issues. https://t.co/NNgSX5U6Gn. Note: Data can be +/-

1 to 2 days
DATE

not in sync between these tools. — Fabrice

Canel
PERSON

(

@facan
NORP

)

September 22
DATE

, 2023

When checking the link he provided, I noticed that Site

Explorer
PERSON

was filtered by “URLs with other issues”. So it seems that category means the same thing as “Content Quality” in the Index Coverage reporting for sitemaps. In other words, it won’t say “Content Quality” in Site Explorer, but it means the same thing.

And when inspecting specific urls that were flagged as lower quality in the Sitemap Index Coverage reporting, I typically saw other categories appear for why the urls weren’t indexed. It did not say “Content Quality”. Fabrice did say the data might not be in sync and there could be a

1-2 day
DATE

lag there between the tools, but it’s worth noting.

For example, a url that was flagged as “Content quality” in the Sitemap Index Coverage reporting actually yielded “Discovered but not crawled” when inspecting that url. That category can signal quality problems too, but it doesn’t say “Content quality”.

Summary – “Content Quality” is being flagged by a major search engine. Dig in there…

Again, I was pretty excited to see

Bing Webmaster Tools
PERSON

provide a flag for content quality. With so much emphasis on “quality” from the major search engines, it’s great to dig in and analyze urls being surfaced as having quality issues. The reporting will never be perfect, and I would not blindly act on what’s being surfaced there, but it’s a nice starting point for site owners trying to understand content quality issues across their sites. I highly recommend digging in there. 🙂

GG