Bing Adds Yelp Partnership for Local Search
Google and Bing have been fighting for search supremacy and market share since Bing’s inception in 2009. Actually, it has always been more of Bing playing catch up than anything else. It is big brother, little brother scenario where Bing has been fighting to get search engine user’s, and Google’s, attention with the releases new features and partnerships.
Most have postulated that Google will remain in the driver’s seat unless they make a huge misstep with their search products. With the recent changes to the Google Places and Bing adding a partnership with Yelp to boost its local search, this certainly looks like it could be the start of something along those lines.
Google has decided to ax the Places pages and replace them with Google+ Local Pages. This is in effort to tie in the local listings with the Google+ suite of products. This is not entirely a bad thing.
The added social layer could increase business to customer communication and could reduce some of the anonymity involved with current system. Also, it will allow businesses to control all of their Google products from one central hub.
There are certainly some negatives as well. There has been a lot of confusion over whether businesses should switch over to the new Google+ Local Page, or wait until Google consolidates the two themselves.
Also, there is currently a difference between Local Google+ Pages (old Google+ business pages that selected local business as their category) and Google+ Local Pages (the new version of Google Places). As you can see, this is leading to a lot of indecisiveness and is leaving business owners in no-mans-land in an area that is critical for local success.
The worst of all is the switch from the star rating system to the Zagat 30-point scale. Sure, Zagat is great for restaurants, but does not really make sense for any other industry. The stars were much more visually decipherable and easy to gauge at a quick glance. The Zagat switch seems to be a miss on all accounts.
Bing has been slowly creeping up on Google for some time now. The recently released Webmaster Tools has been a home run in the search marketing community. They have a great travel search tool and are now beefing up their local search.
As of today (June 14, 2011), they are partnering with Yelp to bring more local business related content to Bing’s local listings. Yelp will add pictures, reviews and other business attributes to the search engine. This seems to be perfect timing as so many are unhappy with the changes to Google’s local offering.
The Yelp addition will be huge for Bing because of the mass amounts of data that the company already has tied into their product product. It will make Bing local that much more relevant and useful.
With these changes, Bing will continue to chip away at the lead that Google has built in the search realm. I doubt that this alone will make people use Bing as their default search provider, but it is still a step in the right direction for them.