Microsoft is now following in the successful footsteps of Google Webmaster Central & Yahoo Site Explorer with the limited beta testing of a new Live Search Webmaster Portal.
The new portal will feature SEO oriented tools (like possibly the Xenu Link Sleuth style LiveSearch link checker and other SEO tools Microsoft acquired from aQuantive), webmaster tools (hopefully their Gatineau analytics system), and the following ‘scenarios’ (via the Live Search Weblog):
- Troubleshooting tools to ensure MSNBot is effectively crawling and indexing your site
- Sitemap creation, submission and ping tools
- Statistics about your website
- Consolidation of content submission resources
- New content and community resources
And yes, webmasters will be able to check their backlinks in LiveSearch again!
Such a form of two way communication has become critical for the development of search engines, their evangelism, and webmaster relations. The more webmasters understand the search engines, the more relevant results the engines can provide via deeper crawling and efficient indexing. It’s taken Microsoft years to start their webmaster outreach portal, but from what I hear there has been loads of dragging issues within the company between which division will host it, Live Search or MSN.
Despite the lag time, Live Search is looking for beta testers of the Webmaster Portal program, which is expected to be released to the public this fall:
While we expect the tools to be available publicly in late Fall, we still have some polishing to do. In the meantime we’ve created a private beta program to let adventuresome folks get their hands on the tools sooner – and help polish things by providing feedback. If you’re interested in participating in the beta program over the next few months, please send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to apply!