Herr Bischoff

The Relative Absurdity of Getting Your Website to be Indexed by Bing

After poking and prodding around for some non-trivial amount of time, I found that Bing, the search engine, considers a missing “Meta Description” tag in HTML markup an error. Not just a SEO issue as they accurately describe it, no: a hard error resulting in the exclusion of the relevant page from its search index. As a bonus, if you have too many pages that miss those tags, your entire domain may stop getting crawled for updates. This happened to me.

Within Bing Webmaster Tools, the option “URL Inspection” allows you to see what went wrong, according to Bing:

The inspected URL is known to Bing but has some issues which are preventing indexation. We recommend you to follow Bing Webmaster Guidelines to increase your chances of indexation.

Leaving aside the choice of words here — of course the linked document does not mention this requirement at all. You have to inspect every URL separately via “Live URL” and work yourself through the “SEO issues” raised. Note that when you solve one, more and different ones may pop up, like a missing language classification.

I have entirely no idea what drove the Bing search engine team to this decision. Those issues should be warnings or notices, not errors. Especially not ones that prevent indexing completely.

Meanwhile, Google has and had no issue with the missing tag and is smart enough to figure out the content language on its own. It correctly interprets this information as hints, not requirements. We’re talking about SEO optimization here, not recklessly violating a technical specification.

I wouldn’t mind if Bing was too brain-dead for its own good if not for the fact that the index drives DuckDuckGo, my search engine of choice. By extension, this means that when your site is missing the tag, it won’t get indexed. This is bonkers.

A final note of warning, if I may.

If you think of being clever (like I did) and just put

<meta name="description" content="">

in your page: Bing detects that. And throws you a

Meta Description too long or too short

error for good measure. I decided to comply with the requirement in my own way and changed the tag:

<meta name="description" content="This description exclusively exists because Bing refuses to index a page without a Meta Description tag.">