Last week, Microsoft unleashed its brand new search engine onto the market. It’s called Bing  and, contrary to what the name suggests, you do have to take it seriously. Even if you’re not planning to give up your Google search habit, you’ll still want to familiarize yourself with Bing to understand how you can help your site rank in their local search index. To learn a bit more about the engine, you can read about the keynote Q&A  Microsoft president Dr. Qi Lu gave at last week’s Search Marketing Advanced show in Seattle.
However, what I really wanted to see was how Bing handles local search.
Microsoft’s not known for the creating the hippest search products, so I was curious to see how Bing was handling local search right out of the gate. A search for [Albany, NY Mexican ] brings up all the usual suspects that my palette remembers living in Upstate, NY. You’ll notice that the search engine results page (SERP) looks pretty rudimentary compared to Google and Yahoo! (not much more exciting than a Yellow Pages search), however, I really like the refinement options Bing offers on the left-hand side. They take an approach similar to Ask.com where they allow you to sort your search by Rating, Price, Cuisine, Atmosphere, Reservations, Payment and Parking options.
Once you refine your search, Bing allows you to click through to individual business listings. These individual pages give local searchers handy business “scorecards”, 1-click driving directions (a pretty awesome feature), a 3D Bird’s Eye View of the business in Maps, customer reviews, and more.
Why did I point all the refinement features and options Bing shows users? Because it’s important to know what users are seeing so that you can fill out your own local search listings to take advantage of all the refinement options.
So let’s do it.
To list your local business in Bing, head to the Bing Local Listing Center . From there, you’ll be able to check to see if you already have a local listing set up. If you do, you can modify it. If not, now’s the perfect time to create one.
Once you start creating/modifying your account. Bing will ask you to log in using your Windows ID. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to create one. From there, you’ll be asked to enter in your contact and business information, as well as a laundry list of supplemental information like additional phone numbers, Web pages, email address, hours of operation, payment methods, photos, etc. There’s also a long section for additional information like your company tagline, business description, brands carried (if applicable), specialties, affiliations, languages spoken, parking options, etc. It’s always in your best interest to create as complete a profile as you can.
From there, you can select up to six prioritized categories to place your business in based on associated keywords. You’ll also be able to supply information about features, cuisine type, prices, atmosphere, etc. Make sure you fill these out the best you can so that you can take advantage of Bing’s great local search refinement options. If you list it as an option, you won’t show up for it when a user looks for it!
Once that’s complete, Bing will ask you to review your business listing on the map, fixing the pushpin locator, if necessary. If everything looks good, submit your listing and you’re done. That’s it! Freel free to congratulate yourself on a well used 10-15 minutes.
It’s really important that you take the time to complete accurate business listings in Google, Yahoo, Bing and the other third-party service providers. The more accurate information there is about your company out there, the better chances your customers are going to find you. And when it only takes a few minutes, is there really any excuse not to give your Web site the best possible chance at ranking?
No. There’s not.