Bing is finally offering local business listings to UK-based small businesses, but in an odd arrangement, it’s outsourcing the data management to a third party — a company called 118 Information.
Bing recently launched a site, www.bingforbusiness.com, that invites local UK businesses to add or edit their free business listings and touts the benefits of being visible on Bing’s UK search properties (even though Google is even more dominant there than it is in the U.S.).
But unlike its main Bing Maps site, which handles business listings internally, this new site explains that UK business listings are outsourced for management through 118 Information.
Bing works with a third party which uses a variety of sources including regular calls to businesses directly to ensure that our listings data is as accurate as possible. Your information then shows up in Bing through Instant Answers, Local Search and Maps. You can at any time add new listings or request updates to your data such as new telephone numbers or websites by filling out a request form online. You will be called back to complete the update by phone. It really is that simple!
It might be simple, but it’s highly unusual. The links point to a special page on 118 Information’s web site where Bing-using local businesses can first search for their business in 118 Information’s database. A couple clicks later and you’re on the “Add a New Business” page, which shows that 118 Information also supplies listings to Yahoo, British Telecom, and several other directories. A video on this page explains that 118 Information “provides the free listings to all of the directories in the UK,” and tells business owners, “We guarantee your business will be listed … everywhere.”
We have an email in to Bing to find out why its outsourcing local business listings rather than developing its own database as it does with Bing Maps. We’ll update this post if and when we get a reply.
Postscript, May 20: A Bing spokesperson shared this statement with us:
“Microsoft is committed to developing and building Bing at a local level in the UK. Bing’s algorithm has been enhanced for UK consumers to ensure that results are truly relevant for a local audience. Bing will form strategic relationships with authoritative local content partners, where appropriate, to ensure we deliver the most rich and relevant UK searches, one of these being 118information. Other relationships include Auto Trader, Sky Sports and the Press Association.”