Bing has repeatedly said their main focus isn’t traditional search--helping users find information. It’s helping consumers complete tasks, like finding restaurants or movies. As such, local listings are going to be key to the search engine’s long-term success.
That’s why yesterday Bing released v.1 of its revamped local listings offerings. Dubbed the Bing Business Portal, the new system, which replaces the Bing Local Listings Center, has a bunch of fresh features designed to appeal to merchants. It’s faster for businesses to verify themselves and claim their pages. They can create deals and coupons inside their listings, which can also be published to Facebook. And specific kinds of businesses, like restaurants and bars, can enter menus that hungry Bing searchers can peruse on the go.
"Fifty percent of mobile searches are users looking for businesses or entities related to local," Bing director of product management for mobile Andy Chu tells Fast Company. "And 70 percent of mobile search intent will be completed within an hour."
In other words, when someone’s searching for something on a mobile phone, they’re going to make a decision within 60 minutes. On a PC, it’s more like a week, Chu says. That’s why it’s important for merchants to have as compelling information available as possible via mobile search. It could make the difference between that hungry searcher choosing your cute French bistro, or the one down the street.
Along with the front-end improvements, Chu says Bing also completely revamped the back-end architecture with an eye to the future. It will be easier to scale as more merchants enter listings, Chu says, and it will be easier to add additional features and the kinds of capabilities merchants want to help distinguish themselves.
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[Image: Flickr user besopha]