Bing.com: A local search review

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After all of the hype and promotion, MSN’s Bing is finally here. Considering the buzz and $80 million dollar marketing budget surrounding this release I thought I would provide a quick review on Bing’s local search features.

Essentially, this is MSN Live Search results with a new face, but there are some interesting enhancements worth mentioning. The first noticeable difference is the addition of the Bing ‘8 pack’. Previously, only 3 local map listings were displayed so they are taking a page from Google here by expanding, but somehow settled on 8 listings rather than 10.

There have been several Bing vs. Google results comparisons already so I’m not going to dig too deep into the results, but I wanted to highlight one search that illustrates a problem I have always had with MSN local results.

Bing ResultsGoogle Results

The Bing results for the search ‘Fitness Center Denver’ are much more distant than that of Google’s. More specifically, the #1 result on Bing is for a place called Thrillseekers, which happens to be the least relevant business to my search term as it’s primarily a rock climbing training center. Thrillseekers is also one of the furthest places in the results from my location. The top 3 Google results are all for traditional fitness centers and happen to be within blocks of my location.

Another enhancement Bing has added is the restaurant scorecard. This provides a visual ranking system of reviews brought in from Yelp and Citysearch. Along with the scorecard, Bing allows the option to sort by rating, price, cuisine, and even parking. From a user experience standpoint, the best new feature in my opinion is the 1- click directions feature. This allows a user to simply click the link of the desired business to get driving directions without entering your details. People often have a good understanding of how to navigate their neighborhood, so by default; Bing provides directions from the nearest freeway or main route to a final destination. However, I can see potential problems with this as not everyone will be searching in their home town.

Bing Score Card

The final local section of Bing is the sponsored ads. The Geo targeted PPC ads will still come from the MSN Ad Center, but the ads on the local pages will now come from Yellowpages.com instead of Superpages. The Yellowpages.com sponsored results now have a logo included with each result which really makes those listings stand out from the organic.
With Google’s recent addition of the local dashboard in their Local Business Center it’s clear they are committed to getting more business owners to claim their listing. While this is possible on Bing, it’s a little buried and primitive in comparison. With that said, Bing is a step forward in the local space, but I don’t see MSN gaining market share from their local offerings. At this time I see no reason to switch to this new search engine…excuse me, I mean decision engine.

 

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