If you run a local business with a physical location, then you absolutely should take advantage of the enormous potential that listing your small business on search engines brings. Listing your business on search engines not only raises your visibility online to potential customers, but also lets you manage and enhance how your business appears publicly by uploading content like photos, services and more.
Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, while not as popular as Google, is still a favorite tool used by millions of people to search for businesses online. What’s more, Bing is the default search engine for all newer computers, tablets and mobile devices running Windows OS. It allows you to claim a listing for your small business on the search engine for free via its Bing Places for Business.
Claiming Your Free Bing Places for Business Listing
Bing says that registering a small business with Bing Places is a 3-step process. However, there are three main categories of businesses you can list: Local or small business with a store front, chain business with multiple locations and businesses offering services at customer locations.
Advertising agencies that would like to add listings on behalf of their clients can also do so, but they must first create an agency account by filling the Bing Places Agency Details Form. After which, they can follow the same listing procedure, while taking advantage of the bulk upload feature that allows you to add up to 10,000 lines of Excel information in a single update.
You must have a free Microsoft account to log in to the Bing Places management tool, though. A Microsoft account is basically the account you use to log in to Hotmail, SkyDrive or Xbox LIVE. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, Bing Places prompts you to create one from the registration interface.
Here’s how to get started with Bing Places for Business to help customers discover your business online.
Step 1: Claim Your Listing
Visit the Bing Places homepage and click “Get started.” The screen shot below is the sign up interface you will see prompting you to add your business.
Type into the appropriate text fields either your phone number or your business name and location. Click “Search” to see if anything shows up.
Chances are Bing has a listing for your business already. If so, you will be prompted to moderate your search or claim an existing listing. If not, you will be asked to click “Add New Business” to open a Microsoft account log in window that will give you access to create a new listing. Enter your Microsoft account username and password as prompted to log in to the Bing Places for Business dashboard.
Step 2: Complete Your Listing Profile
Once you are logged in, it’s time to start adding more details about your business. Below is a screen shot of what you will see when logged in:
The left hand side presents all of the different drop-down menus you will be required to open and fill to complete your listing. The right hand side shows the map and photos that will change corresponding to the details you add about your business.
Bing says: “Adding complete information about your business helps you tell the best story about your business. You can add photos of your business & services, hours of operation, services offered and list the various ways customers can reach your business.”
Step 3: Verify your listing.
After you fill in all of the details about your business, click “Submit.” A new window will open asking you to verify your business. The window will look like this:
Provide the correct contact address to verify your listing. Bing will send you a verification PIN number to the address listed there, which you should receive within 3 to 5 days. Verifying your business listing helps guard against unauthorized changes to the listing.
Bing says: “You can verify your listings by receiving a PIN at your business address, phone or email. All businesses must provide a valid address, but some types of businesses can hide their address in search results.”
Managing Your Bing Places for Business Listing
Once you receive your PIN number in the mail, log in to the Bing Places for Business dashboard and enter the PIN number to verify and start managing your listing. Managing your listing entails editing and adding information regarding your listing to take control of your business image and reputation on the web. You can manage multiple listings under one dashboard with Bing Places for Business.
Remember customers usually have many options when searching for local businesses online. Put your best foot forward by uploading detailed information about your local business, including days and hours you are open, payments you accept, parking information if available, and pictures of the small business building or offices to fully engage customers.
If you decide you want to delete a listing, log in to your Bing Places dashboard and locate the listing you want removed from search. Below the listing is a link to either edit or delete it. Click “Delete.” A Delete Business dialog box opens. Type a reason for the closure, and then click “Delete Business.”