Bing has made a few important improvements to (and renamed) its local business directory offering. The beta version adds the ability for owners to create, claim and manage listings and perhaps more importantly, promote special deals.
Bing's Local Listing Center is now called Bing Business Portal and lets owners add content to their listings such as photos, logos and information beyond the basics, such as menus for restaurants, parking availability, holiday hours and types of payments accepted.
The portal also lets owners craft and promote deals, like coupons or promotions, for free, which are then indexed by Bing's search engine and can also be posted on businesses' Facebook pages from the portal's interface.
As readers are likely aware, other search engines have similar business directories, such as Google's Places and Yahoo's Local. Local search directories are essential tools for search engines to establish potential advertising relationships with small local businesses, many of which have but a modest presence online and as such represent an underserved advertising market.
Will the enhanced platform make a difference in search rankings? It likely will according to Bing's FAQ page. “The details you provide can help modify how your business appears in the Bing algorithmic search results.”
To claim your listing, search for it in Bing’s local results, then click the “change this business listing” link. Remember to identify specific search categories and to explore the available publishing tools for creating mobile sites (and QR codes) for inclusion on mobile devices.