Update 6/15/2013: I had the microdata code in source code…
Mobile search marketing takes a front seat in Bing as the Bing Local Listing Center has been replaced by the new Bing Business Portal. An impressive slew of new internet marketing SEO services and tools have been combined into the Bing Business Portal. These services can quickly launch your business into local search marketing, mobile search marketing, and social media marketing with no investment outside the time it takes to set up and optimize your content in your free Bing account.
Free Mobile Website and Local Listings from Bing Business Portal
The tools for local search marketing are changing quickly as mobile search explodes and overlaps with social media marketing. Smart phone, Android phone, iPhone, tablet PC, and iPad popularity is growing the market for local search.
Throughout this article, I explain the new features of the Bing Business Portal compared to Google and Yahoo products along with SEO tips to maximize its benefits. The big WOW about the new Bing Business Portal is that it not only gives merchants an easy place to list local business locations (enabling exposure to local and map search), the new product area helps you create a free mobile website, mirroring the products you load into the Bing shopping engine and your local listing information. This mobile website has its own shortened URL you can share in Facebook, and a Facebook Like button built in (later in this article, I’ll share an SEO secret about Facebook likes). You can even generate your mobile website’s QR code to download and print onto a window sticker or distribute throughout your area. Using a few tricks to detect the browser and redirect, or just a simple link, this mobile website provided by Bing can be integrated into your main desktop website – or stand alone if it is your initial entry into internet marketing.
Bing Local Business Listings Compared to Google and Yahoo
Bing has combined some really convenient features of Google and Yahoo that simplify your business’s launch into mobile search marketing, starting from square one. You don’t need a website or a physical storefront (though you likely have one or the other), yet you can end up with a Facebook friendly mobile website, local map listings so you appear in map search results and product listings so you can appear in Bing shopping results.
The Listings section starts with straight forward business Details tab similar to the Local Listing Center that was replaced, with a nice new interface.
Like Yahoo, you have a choice whether or not to display your business address. This is great news for internet only businesses run from a private home or location without a storefront. Like Google’s local listing process, you must first search for your business by phone number. Either choose an existing listing to take over or create a new one. Either way, you must verify ownership by phone or mail.
SEO TIP: This may not surprise you, but use keywords in the business name and in any other fields whenever possible. Fill out as many fields as possible. Bing even tells you straight out in their Learn more infographic “…the more information you have added to your listing, the easier it will be to find your business online.”
Next tab is the Profile. Like Google and Yahoo, you may choose categories (called Specialties in Bing) under which your business can be listed. Bing lets you choose up to 5 specialties. Unique to Bing, you may then use interactive sliders to prioritize the different areas.
SEO TIP: if you don’t fit into 5 categories, try to find 5 that at least are related, especially if they contain any form of your core keywords.
Mobile, the next tab under Listings produces your FREE mobile website, as well as a QR Code. The QR code is a bar code that people can scan with their mobile phone that will take them right to your mobile website. It’s sort of like plastering your domain name on a sign, except there’s no need to remember the URL and type it into a browser. The only downside to QR codes is that you can’t integrate a recognizable brand into it, like you do with a domain name. Its an unrecognizable pattern of black and white boxes. Now that would be something if you can customize your QR code to include your logo. Let me know if you find out how to do that. The upside for the QR code and its whole reason for existence is NO TYPING – one of the great enablers of mobile search. On your way into a store, scan the QR code in the storefront window with your mobile device and the website pops right up.
You can start listing your categories and products here under the Mobile tab of the Listings section, but its probably easier to wait until you get to the Products section where you will fill out all the details.
Unlike Yahoo, you can upload up to 9 photos for your listing for free. Yahoo used to let you upload 2 photos free and more for the paid listing. Now, Yahoo reserves all photos for the paid listing. Bing gives you 9 photos for your listing.
SEO TIP: Use all 9 photos and don’t upload them. Instead use the link option. This lets you use photos hosted on your main website domain. These each act as a link from an authority website (Bing). They are not as powerful as anchor text links, but they are links from Bing.com nonetheless.
The More Details tab lets you further optimize and fill in additional information using forms that you would recognize from Google local listings. These include year established, company tagline, business description, languages spoken, hours of operation, payment types accepted, parking options, brands carried, professional associations and your marker location on the map.
SEO TIP: Bing encourages users to fill out as many details as possible, since this is a way of optimizing your listing so that it can be accurately indexed in search results.
The last tab, Publish, gives you a preview of your local listing, links to your mobile site and a download for your QR code window sticker. Also in this tab are tools to design the look of your mobile website. The default colors are determined by the logo. From there you can customize the colors and background texture.
Get Products in Bing Shopping Search Engine
The Products area is not as easy as you might expect. Unlike Google Merchant there is currently no option for an RSS feed or spreadsheet. Its up to you to painstakingly input each product and description into the fields. Also, don’t get confused by what is intended as product categories and actual products. The first step is to list your menu items or product categories, followed by sub-categories. And be careful, this is still in BETA – I was not able to delete unused menu items. Therefore I suggest editing the default menu items before creating new ones. Once you fill in the title and description for the first menu item, it will be updated in the left column, where you can select that menu item to start adding its sub menu item, and then products for the sub menu item. The point of entering this hierarchy is to create your navigable mobile website.
Free Mobile Website
Hands down the most exciting part of the Bing Business Portal, over Google or Yahoo is the promise of a free mobile website and its QR Code, compatible with Facebook, complete with like button.
SEO TIP: I’ve noticed a correlation between Facebook likes and rankings in Bing web search results. Also, if your customers use the Facebook like function with location enabled, it creates a location specific search signal similar to the reviews you may see listed in your Google maps place page that are pulled from various websites that list your business name and address with associated reviews. Encourage your customers to Facebook like you. Keep the QR code handy so they can scan it and hit the like button. This could be as simple as a sign next to the register or tip jar: We accept and appreciate Facebook likes – just scan the bar code and hit the like button.
Once you get past the product categories and into the products, you find name, price, description, photos and Why Buys. In the Learn More area, Bing suggests using the Why Buys for search engine optimization (SEO). Bing explains (in not these exact terms) that Why Buys are conversion messages about your product that help it appear in search results. In a nutshell this is where you list your product benefits.
SEO TIP: In the WHY BUYS list the problems your potential customers are searching online to solve, as well as the variations of the product name or application. This is the perfect example of combined conversion and SEO that must be compressed into ten concise statements.
As you build your product categories, products, descriptions and why buys, you are actually building the mobile website. The seemingly unnecessary hierarchy you are forced to provide for each product builds the categories and subcategories in your mobile website, allowing the user to drill down different areas to read more. The mobile interface is limited to menu lists where you can select one item from a list of categories to see the sub categories, followed by the list of products. Select a product to see the name, description, price, photo and up to 10 reasons to buy.
Once you have the workings of an online store in mobile website format, you can set up deals. The Deals area seems self explanatory. List your sales. A similar free feature like this is also available in Google places. This is not the same thing as running a mobile pay per click ad. The deals do not directly give you more prominence, however, this is an opportunity to grow your variety of keyword stemming to further optimize your listing.
The People tab is an area where you can manage account users for your Bing Business Portal. Similar to the account management abilities in Google products. Here you can add users and set their level of access, allowing your team members to input products, business locations, etc.
SEO and Marketing Conclusions about the New Bing Business Portal
Bing obviously wants to gain traffic. Without going head to head with Google’s web search, Bing makes a move into mobile search as the Decision Engine. Of course all these products still affect general web search performed at a desktop or laptop. However, mobile and local signals not only influence web search results, but are often injected directly into web search results. Bing put together some really great free tools that have otherwise been paid tools from Bing and Yahoo. Certainly we can assume Bing is providing these free tools to merchants to encourage more use of the Bing online properties. However that does not take away from the value they provide. Admittedly by Bing, these new local SEO tools will help you in other search engines besides just Bing. Your mobile site is created and branded by Bing, however it is still searchable in Google, Yahoo, Ask, etc. The content you create in your local listing, the reviews you get, the Facebook likes and the mobile website are all crawled and followed by Google. What’s good for one search engine is often good for them all.