Today Bing launched the Bing Business Portal, replacing the Bing Local Listing Center. And WOW, what a difference!
The new Bing Business Portal comes with a ton of new capabilities that weren’t present in the previous one.
I went through and claimed a few businesses and found the phone verification process to be very smooth and efficient.
Bing Business Portal Highlights
In addition to the ability to claim, customize and manage local business listings as you could before, they have added some really nice new features:
- Create a mobile site and QR code so customers can learn about your business on mobile devices
- Add links to Facebook and Twitter to your business listing
- Create and download a window sticker with your business contact info and a QR code
- Create Deals (coupons) and promote them for free on Bing (both PC and Mobile) and Facebook
They also allow you to authorize others to manage your listings. This is huge – because many local businesses rely on professionals to help them manage and optimize their listings. With Google Places there is no such delegation, so business owners end up having to allow consultants to log in via their email address, or create a new Google Account just to manage the Place Page.
I also noticed that Bing allows you to hide your business address from the listing, which is important for home-based businesses or businesses that don’t want people showing up on their doorstep.
Claiming Your Business
I found the process for claiming your business to be smooth and easy. You claim your business here: http://www.bing.com/businessportal
Going through the process, you enter the basic information about your Business and Bing searches to see if it can find it.
Once Bing finds your business information, you go ahead and claim it using the Claim button. There are two options for verification – by phone or mail. I verified via phone and was done in 2 minutes.
Filling Out Your Business Profile
After verification, Bing takes you through a series of steps to add additional information about your business and complete your profile. You can even define your products and their prices, which will show up on your profile and on your mobile site. When you are done you can preview and publish it live.
Creating Your Mobile Site and QR Code
Now for the interesting part – Bing has a designer tool that allows you to create a little mobile website for your business. It has features to change colors, highlight your products, map and call buttons. I couldn’t get it to make it look really nice, but there is some potential here. It even gives you the URL to your mobile site.
You can also create a QR code that you can display on your Window Sticker or other offline advertisements. A person with a smartphone can use a QR code reader to scan this code and be taken instantly to your mobile website on Bing complete with map and directions.
Creating Deals (Coupons)
But wait, there’s more! Bing also allows you to create and display deals. They’ve got a little deal “designer” interface that allows you to lay it out, upload images, etc.
These deals can appear in the Bing Daily Deals mobile site: http://m.bing.com. Bing says “Every day, certain Deals created by local merchants will be highlighted on the Deals section of the mobile site.” Criteria for having your deals show up are listed in the Bing Business Portal FAQ.
I’m certainly very excited to see how this pans out. Bing says that all existing local listings have been moved over to the new Bing Business Portal, but I found a few businesses that were dropped. I will definitely be claiming these profiles for my clients.
Claiming and completing this profile is very important to your local search rankings, even in Google. Having more autoritative “citations” of your business helps with your rankings. And now that Bing powers Yahoo search, Bing represents over 25% of the search traffic.
As Greg Sterling said his his Search Engine Land piece, the real opportunity for Bing is to provide a more “human” support experience for small business owners who are so frustrated with the “algorithmic” approach that Google is taking toward Google Places.
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