Bing's new Business Portal may take on Google Places.

Microsoft has announced a Business Portal (currently in beta) that will offer small business marketers the chance to promote their products and services to local Bing searchers.

With the Bing Business Portal, marketers can claim and enhance their business listings on Bing. The Business Portal replaces the Bing Local Listing Center, making it easier for brands to manage their Bing listings.

“More and more customers are searching Bing to find businesses and services in their local area. Claiming your business listing enables you to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information that can help increase your visibility on Bing and make it easier for customers to find you,” says Bing.

The Bing Business Portal promotes discovery by letting businesses select key search categories where they want their listings to appear. It helps business owners create mobile websites to catch the interest of on-the-go searchers. Their listings can link to their Twitter and Facebook pages and feature custom content (such as deals) to be promoted on Bing PC, Bing Mobile and Facebook.

The new Bing Business Portal seems like a prime competitor for Google Places. However, Google is still a step ahead – just last week, Brafton reported that the search giant had unveiled product search for Places, aimed at helping marketers boost foot traffic and local ecommerce.

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.