Bing delisting Pocketables, our story so far

Sometime last month I was informed that Pocketables just doesn’t exist on Bing. Bing, before you Google it, is a search engine that Microsoft has that probably should have been named Cortana. I kid, I kid.

TL;DR – not a complaint, here’s a journey (doesn’t have an end yet) for some webmasters down the road. So far no sure resolution but something of interest if you happen to run a tech blog and really not be into fighting search engines.

Pocketables did exist on Bing from 2009-2020/21… 2021’s the last time I think I saw Bing as a referrer and, topping out at 3-5 people coming from it a day it was not something I noticed when it went away.

Searching Pocketables on Bing results in our YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook, reviews of Pocketables by review sites, a 2006 blogspot page indicating that we’d moved, advertisements for hot pockets right next to underwear, but nothing from the site that’s been generating content since 2000.

During the quest to fix this I learned something interesting – there’s a site called DuckDuckGo, privacy search site, if you’re delisted on Bing you’re delisted on DuckDuckGo… lovely… that was… really inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Worries me a bit a privacy site is directly tied to MS, but meh, not researching it now.

I installed the Bing Webmaster tools, ran for a week, nada. returned nothing. Tested URLs, all returned fine, robots.txt good, no log of errors… nothing I could tell.

I received successful submission after successful submission and weeks later had 0 indexed pages…

After a while I discovered the URL inspection feature, tested a few and I get these

image 13 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here
Has some issues huh?

I repeated this again and again – finding something that had been found that couldn’t be indexed.

I went through a bunch of the content I know was working back when, all said about the same thing – couldn’t be indexed. Something changed?

With no historical logging that is visible, no DMCA complaints, no emails since 2019 I guess, all I can gather is that some great catastrophe happened that affected only Bing’s communication with us, delisted us, Bing didn’t send me a note that there were issues, and life went on.

The latest submissions using the Bing plugin all appear to succeed… but “success” appears only that they got submitted, anything submitted appears to have failed.

I started pulling historical pages from Pocketables and noticed that there were some differences in code by date. Nothing substantial and no changes to robots.txt since infinity. But sometime in the past couple of years the meta descriptions disappeared.

Google just generates descriptions based on the text, and the site used to generate them based on the text (via Yoast,) but it stopped at some point.

image 14 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here
Let’s try that “live URL” eh? Oh it’s fine? Really? Missing meta description tag?

I went into one of the failing URLs, popped down to the meta description in Yoast, and it was blank. OK. Popped in a test meta, and suddenly Bing claims it can be indexed.

Change default yoast meta desc to excerpt as for reasons unknown it was blank, check several URLs that didn’t work in the index all claim now that they can be indexed.

Does this fix it? No idea. All submitted now claim they can be indexed when looking at live. We’ll see.

When this shows something we’ll know if that was it.

It appears you don’t have to have a meta description for Bing to index you based on some other pages I’m looking at, but after some arbitrary point of automatic submissions it kicks you. I’ve got a note in with support, but I highly suspect that’s it. May be wrong.

July 14, all new submissions to Bing say they’re accepted… now getting that ALT tags are missing for some images and told that the site can’t be indexed. I use URL inspector and it claims they’re fine and can be crawled.

Day 4 I guess waiting on a support request….

image 20 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here
Oh that’s interesting 1 referrer, today and yesterday, but nothing on site:pocketables on bing

Day 5 – got a response from a Bing tech saying they were unable to reproduce the errors and what exactly was I trying to submit. still shows 0
All URLs submitted look like this

image 21 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

but return this

image 22 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

Site scan of 5000 articles indicated 11 errors and 4989 passable.

Discovered theITBaby was delisted as well, but several of the project sites I maintain were not. So only the blogging sites appear to not appear. I thought for a second it might be the host / infected something or other, but nope… other wordpress blogs I run (a lot of uninteresting content oddly,) all working.

Over on theITbaby I get a slightly different error

image 25 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

TheITBaby, blocked. URL cannot appear on Bing. No issues listed. Different from the “discovered but not crawled” that Pocketables has.

As of this morning (July 18, 2022) and another ticket the “blocked” is gone, it’s back to “discovered but not crawled” and a note that it’s known to have some issues. I can submit … 10000 links a day to the index for ITB… that’s new. Think I am allowed 20 on Pocketables.

image 26 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here
Pocketables gets 4 URLs (probably 10 a day, I was working on stuff last night)
image 27 - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here
theITbaby gets 10,000
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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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