Microsoft officially launched the Bing Business Portal which is their version of Google Places with some added features for business owners. Anyone involved in local listing optimization will be familiar with the settings and features but some of their new features really make it stand out.
– Social integration: Business listings can include links to Facebook and Twitter profiles
– Mobile: Create a mobile profile with QR code and restaurants and bars can create custom menus that appear on their mobile profiles
– Coupons: Create custom deals / coupons and manage their distribution
– Editing: Bing allows multiple account editors. This is such an important component especially when businesses change agencies and run into account access issues in Google Places
All of these features are awesome and with Bing now controlling 30 percent of the search market (when you include Yahoo!) they are definitely working to expand their audience. However where Bing can really win isn’t the features, its the customer service. We have had issues with Google over incorrect and merged data affecting our local listings and the lack customer service is alarming. I realize that Google has been making strides in improving its reputation by adding Adwords phone support but most of their products include little if any human help and a knowledge base or FAQ page can’t fix fundamental problems.
Here’s to hoping that Bing knocks this out of the park and forces Google to improve their product even more.