Everyone seems to be chiming in with their reviews of Microsoft’s new search engine — oops, I mean “decision engine”. Can it compete with Yahoo? Will it become a verb like Google? Why’d they name it after the Chandler character on “Friends?”
I don’t know if Bing will grow legs or if it’ll get lost amid the competition. Given the $100 million ad campaign Microsoft is throwing behind it, I’d say it has as good a shot as anything to break through, even if it doesn’t fully cure “search overload”.
Early results are encouraging, but traffic from its initial weeks might be simply from people checking out the hype. They could kick the tires and take it for a spin, but they might not change their search habits.
But what if enough of them do?
Personally, I’m encouraged to see that Yellow Pages has had a healthy presence in Bing searches I’ve performed.
For instance, I searched “New York art and crafts stores,” and the top result was a listing of local businesses. Click on that link, and you’ll see two sponsored listings from YellowPages.com at the top.
You’ll find similar results with pretty much any local search. In fact, Bing’s local search portal page has YellowPages.com branding prominently displayed on the right side of the page.
Really, the intersection between Bing and the Yellow Pages makes perfect sense. We’ve long been a decision engine for consumers needing to find a local business.
And we’ve also long been relied upon by other search engines. It reminds me of something that stuck out when I read David Mihm’s Local Search Ranking Factors report for 2009.
Mihm asked the search experts participating in the survey to rate the importance of different criteria on rankings in search engine algorithms. Out of 49 factors, citations from major data providers and IYP portals came in as the second most important. (Local business listing address in city of search was No. 1.)
One expert called the citations the “single most important factor to local search rankings.” Another said, “Being listed in the right directory or online Yellow Pages can make the difference between (being) No. 1 and not listed.”
So whether a consumer looking for a local business is using Google Maps, Yahoo! Local, Superpages, Bing or any other search tool out there, there’s one common thread: a strong reliance on Yellow Pages listings. Yes, even the hot new thing Bing gets a hand from the folks who have been doing local search for more than 130 years.
Thus, small business owners who want users to find them — that’s pretty much all small business owners — need to realize the importance of using the Yellow Pages as part of their online strategy.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.