Bing's New Business Portal

Image Bing's New Business Portal
By Vanessa Salvia, 4/28/11

Whenever the topic of search comes up, Google gets the lion's share of the attention. But with Bing's new Business Portal, that could change a bit. The new portal, at www.bing.com/businessportal, replaces Bing's old Local Listings Center. If you have an existing listing on Bing, you will be able to access it. If not, now's the time to create one.

New Contact Fields
One notable new feature is in the contact fields. In addition to the standard fields of Name, Category, Address, Phone, Website and other basic contact info, the new Business Portal asks for Facebook and/or Twitter profiles. Google's Place Pages still don't have this feature. The Bing form also has a special field at the bottom for a company logo, which is separate from photo uploads. On the right side, Bing also lets business owners list additional phone and/or email addresses for specific purposes or departments.

More Business Specialties
After choosing the category your business belongs in, you can also choose several business specialties. It's similar to choosing multiple business categories in Google Places. But the way that Bing represents them is different-the Business Portal provides a set of sliders which the profile owner can adjust up and down to show which specialties are most important. The sliders always add up to 100%; as you adjust one slider up in importance, the others automatically adjust down to become less important. This is an interesting and visual way for business owners to represent how their specialties are distributed, and is much more effective than just listing multiple category names, when they may not be particularly accurate or descriptive.

Free Mobile Websites
But those two features are not even the coolest new option. Bing is offering free mobile websites as part of the Business Portal. It also includes a QR code that small business owners can use in their advertising. A QR code stands for Quick Response code, and it looks like a square module of bar codes. The information in the bar codes can be text, URLS or other data, such as coupon discounts. The QRs are designed to be quickly readable-these square bar codes are increasingly popping up in magazines, for instance, and users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, or open a web page in the phone's browser.

Bing's mobile website includes three "tabs" - your products, a "call" button, and an "address" button. The fields seem pretty flexible and you can enter text to describe your products or offerings.

Create Deals
Business Portal profile owners can create several different types of deals, from free offers to a percentage off or a dollar amount discount. Limits on the deals can be set, such as time range, and they can either be printable coupons or mobile deals that customers collect by using their phone. Daily deals can be published to your Bing business listing and also to Facebook - a further example of how marketing, search, and social media are now all working together. And bing says that businesses offering deals will be highlighted on Bing.com search results.

Of course, this won't replace the need to cooperate with Google. Bing just doesn't have the search numbers that Google has. But this robust business portal is a step in the right direction, and definitely something worthwhile for the small business owner to take advantage of.

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