Microsoft Updates Bingbot User Agent

Bing announced Monday that it will begin to use a new Bingbot user agent, a web-crawling robot that collects documents from the web to build its searchable index. The move is significant as the company continues to roll out its Chromium-based Edge browser.

Microsoft currently uses the evergreen BingBot, but now the company will use the bot to crawl all sites. 

In October, Microsoft announced that Bing would adopt Microsoft Edge as the Bing engine to run JavaScript and render web pages. The purpose is to reduce fragmentation of the web and ease search engine optimization (SEO) for all web developers.

The user agent will identify the specific version of Microsoft Edge crawling a website.

Fabrice Canel, principal program manager at Microsoft, explains that Bing will test the website before switching to Microsoft Edge to ensure that it supports changes to the new user-agent.



“We are committing to regularly update our web page rendering engine to the most recent stable version of Microsoft Edge thus making the above user agent strings to be evergreen,” he wrote in a post. "’W.X.Y.Z’” will be substituted with the latest Microsoft Edge version we're using, for example “’80.0.345.0.’" 

Canel’s also urging web developers to register their site on Bing Webmaster Tools to be notified if Bing detect issues and to gain insights using the engine’s forthcoming tools based on its new rendering engine. 

Google also announced plans in October to update its Googlebot user agent, which uses Chrome-based browser to render webpages.

As part of the change occurring this month, Google said it would update Googlebot's user agent strings to reflect the new browser version, and periodically update the version numbers to match Chrome updates in Googlebot.

Here is a good explanation of why these changes are important to SEO professionals. A user agent is a short string of text that identifies the browser to the web server. Every browser has a unique one. When a browser connects to a website, the user agent is essentially introducing itself to the server: “Hey, I’m {browser type} on {viewing device}.”

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