Update: September 2017
When I wrote this piece (back in July) all the below was true.
However, on 25th September 2017 it was announced that Apple are now switching their allegiance back to Google.
It’s, as yet, unclear what impact this will have but it’s a fair guess it won’t be good for Bing’s market share.
That said my position on this hasn’t changed much.
So this is still worth doing for your business – assuming you want more organic traffic to your site.
You do? Good. OK. Back to the original piece:
There are other search engines
I’m going to say this slowly so you can follow this: There. Are. Other. Search. Engines. Besides. Google.
I’ll let that sink in for a bit – as it’s pretty groundbreaking for many people. So many people are so familiar with Google. “To Google” something is even listed as a verb in the Cambridge Dictionary. So when thinking of search engine optimisation lots of people still consider it to be
search engine Google optimisation.
However, there are other search engines out there and among them Bing is becoming increasingly relevant – largely due to it’s partnerships with other platforms, notably Apple and Yahoo. If your customers (or potential customers) are searching on Yahoo or using Siri voice search on any Apple device they’re being served Bing search results.
Given the strong market position the iPhone retains in the UK and that there are also an increasing number of searches being made on mobile devices – the role Bing plays in search traffic is likely to increase.
Also bear in mind that, despite the increasing success of Bing, Microsoft are still rather more famous for making the Windows operating system. No prizes for guessing which search engine their kit is going to be presenting front and centre and/or as default.
Bing currently has around 20% of the market share in the US (even more when you consider Bing-powered Yahoo is counted separately as another 13%). In the UK (and therefore Cambridge) Google still has the lion’s share of the market.
Search engine UK market share – early 2017
With that in mind, if you haven’t already got yourself on Google My Business (Google equivalent of Bing Places) you should probably read my step-by-step guide to getting set up on Google My Business as your priority.
Assuming you’ve done that, but you’re keen to grab every single percentage of traffic you can (and why wouldn’t you?) let’s press on and get you set-up on Bing too, to really maximise your website’s organic search traffic.
How to get listed on Bing
- Sign up via bingplaces.com
- You’ll need to complete all your listing details (should both take no more than an hour)
- Last step is applying for verification (Bing says this takes 7-10 days)
- You receive a card in the post with a verification number
- You verify your Bing Places listing
- Your business is now listed on Bing Places!
Step 0: Check you’re not already listed
Before you start, as with the Google My Business guide you need to be doubly sure you’re not already on there.
Start with a search on Bing Maps and see if you can find yourself on there. It could be a colleague or predecessor or even a well-meaning customer has listed your business on there already. If it is, scroll right down to the bottom of the listing and, in small font, you’ll see a link like this (right) saying 2Is this your business?”
Click on that link and it will, in effect, take you to the beginning on Step 1 below – so have a read through the below but be sure to start from Step 0 – else you risk having two business listings on Bing Places and confusing not just your customers but also the search engines and therefore damaging your rankings.
STep 1: LIST your business on Bing places
Head on over to bingplaces.com and you’ll see a screen like the above. Some promo here and a handy video explaining why it’s worth your time doing this – but let’s assume you’re already convinced.
Click on the big ol’ “Get started” button and let’s get on with things.
Step 2: Locate yourself on Bing Places
First up you’ll see a map, like this.
Bing will try and take the pain out of this process by asking for key information up front to find you more easily. These are: Country/Region and Phone number or your business name and location (a city, state or post code).
If your business is found using these fields I strongly suggest you head back to Step 0 and make doubly sure you’re not already listed.
Note here that if you’re an agency, listing a business on behalf of a client or if you’re a business with multiple locations (10 or more) there are (easily missed) links at the foot of the sidebar which link you to options to help expedite this process using the Bing Places API.
Step 3: specify your location
Next up? Getting more specific with your location.
I’ve used the famous Cambridge tea and cake shop Fitzbillies here as an example (note to self: contact Fitzbillies about SEO as they haven’t claimed their business listing on Bing Places!).
You’ll get another chance here to “Claim business” if you find yourself here already. If not, the big green “Create new business” is where you want to go next.
Step 4: Time to sign up
At this point you’re going to need an account to make a new Bing Places business listing. The same advice for the Google My Business tips holds here too. Whilst you may be in a hurry you want to pick the account you use here carefully.
Too many businesses have listings on Bing Places and Google My Business that they can no longer access, edit or amend. They usually don’t even notice until they want to update it – say, extend their business hours – and then it can be an incredibly frustrating experience.
By fixing this one simple error (after helping them track down which of the staff had set-up the listing in the first place!) they noticed a significantly increased footfall in the store on Saturdays. They even had customers saying “I thought you were closed today. Google said…” Terrifying.
Back to signing in. Pick an account that all the relevant people can have access to – notably the business owner. If this means you have to create a new account, do that.
Step 5: Your Business’s address and details
Time to get specific with your business listing here.
As with Google My Business, it is vital to be consistent. If your address is:
The Optimisey House,
you need that to appear in the exact same way, the same order, the same format every time.
This includes dropping ‘stop words’ (like “The”) and abbreviations.
If you have your Bing Places listing showing “Optimisey House” (not The Optimisey House) or even “Optimisey St.” (not Optimisey Street) that’s not the same. You risk confusing the search engines (and your customers).
In SEO this often referred to as ‘NAP’ – name, address, phone – and making this consistent is one of the most frequently overlooked ‘quick wins’.
Make sure every member of staff knows and shows your postal address in the same way. On Yell.com, events listing sites, everywhere.
Once you enter your address details in Bing Places, it will try and locate you on the map. (For some reason this defaults to in the ocean just off Freeport City in the Bahamas. Weather-wise at least I’m sure lots of business in Cambridgeshire would love to relocate to the Bahamas!).
You can drag the pin to the exact location if Bing’s best guess is not quite right.
Note the “Do not display this address…” checkbox at the bottom. This is important if you don’t want people showing up at the address you list (perhaps you’re a carpenter or professional driver that goes to your customers).
If not – or if you sell from your location and deliver – leave this unchecked.
Step 6: Pick your business category
Next you need to pick your business category.
The list is not quite as extensive as in Google My Business (with it’s categories and sub-categories). One nice feature in the Bing Places tool is that you can pick multiple categories and then, at the end, pick which one you want to show as your Primary Category.
A note here: There is a special checkbox for healthcare professionals or doctors. If that’s you, you know what to do.
Step 7: Contact details
This should, hopefully, we quite self explanatory.
As with your physical address keeping your ‘virtual’ details consistent is important. If your website is (like Optimisey.com) HTTPS then list it as that. Even if it redirects from the http version to the https if people type it and drop the ‘s’ (which it should) make sure you list it correctly and consistently.
Similarly if your site is https://optimisey.com (without the www) – don’t add them in sometimes – it’s just inconsistent. And for search engines and SEO, inconsistency with business information is bad.
It’s a nice touch from Bing here that, in the pane to the right hand side of the screen you, can see your business listing being built as you add in these details, giving you a preview of what customers will see.
Step 8: When are you open?
The penultimate step at this stage is to add your working hours.
There are some quick selections here: “We are open 24×7” – but bear in mind that these details will show when someone searches for your business. If you’re listed as ‘Open’ at that time, if they call you they are going to expect an answer, so be careful. Do you really want your customers calling you at 10pm on Sunday night?
You can tailor the hours for each day of the week – so if you’re open late on Wednesday’s that can be accommodated here.
Step 9: Add some photos
The last step is to add some images or photos of your business. This could be anything from your logo, a snap of your shopfront (so people recognise it if they’re planning a visit) or examples of your work.
If you’re a tattoo artist this would be a great place to show off examples of your work you’re especially proud of.
Why not add a photo of your team too? ‘People buy from people’ as they say, so a lovely, smiley shot of you and your colleagues could make your next customer feel like they already know you before they get there.
If you haven’t got any great shots of your business yet, you can skip this stage without adding any – but add it to your ‘to do’ list to get some. They can make a real difference to prospective buyers comparing you against your competitors.
And you’re done!
Once you’ve done that hit the “Submit” button and you’re done.
Much like Google My Business, Bing will send you a verification card in the post. This has to go to the address you’ve listed, so if you don’t own the premises yet (or cannot get access to it) this mean you cannot verify your listing. Unverified listings won’t appear on Bing Places.
At time of writing that “7-10 days” is definitely nearer 10 days. We’re at eight days (and counting).
Google’s arrived well within their advertised 3-4 days so factor this in to your planning if you need your Bing Places listing live for a big event or launch you’re planning.
Bing Places is still quite a (a comparatively) new thing for businesses to consider, even those quite clued-up on SEO. Quite established or ‘known’ businesses haven’t claimed their Bing Places listing (as demonstrated here with Fitzbillies).
How was it for you?
Share your experiences with Bing Places here to help others. Have you found any tips which have really worked for your business? Or had any nightmares (like the “closed on Saturdays” (when they were open!) examples above). Post a comment.
Cambridge SEO MeetUp
Keen to learn more? If you’re based in and around Cambridge and want to learn more about SEO and how to get your business to the top of Google (and Bing!) come long to one of our free Optimisey Meet Ups:
Update: Bing Verification postcard
The very next day after writing this piece the Bing Verification postcard finally arrived! If you’re running (or starting) a business you probably get a lot of post – so this:
is what you should keep an eye out for. Obviously the verification number on yours won’t be pixelated out!
When you get yours, pop back to Bing Places log-in with the details you set in Step 4 above. It will bring you right to the verification screen. Pop that number into the box, hit “verify” and your business will start appearing on Bing Places searches!