Microsoft tests new Bing business portal

It lets business owners claim their business listings on Bing and promote special deals for free

Microsoft has upgraded and renamed its Bing search engine's directory of local businesses, adding capabilities for owners to create, claim and manage their listings, as well as promote special deals, the company said Monday.

Bing's Local Listing Center is now called Bing Business Portal and in the current beta version features tools that let owners dress up their listings with photos, logos and information beyond the basics, such as menus for restaurants, parking availability, holiday hours and types of payments accepted, according to Microsoft.

The portal also lets owners craft and promote deals, like coupons or promotions, for free, which are then indexed by Bing's search engine and can also be posted on businesses' Facebook pages from the portal's interface.

Other search engines also have similar business directories, such as Google's Places and Yahoo's Local. These search directories are seen as essential tools for search engines to establish potential advertising relationships with small local businesses, many of which have little or no presence online and as such represent an underserved advertising market.

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