Bing has announced some updates to Maps that consumers might like, and local business marketers may like even more. The changes make it easier for Bing Maps users to get a clear picture of the areas they are searching, and new "Locate Me" tools can help consumers better determine which businesses are nearby.

Bing has announced some updates to Maps that consumers might like, and local business marketers may like them even more. The changes make it easier for Bing Maps users to get a clear picture of the areas they are searching, and new “Locate Me” tools can help consumers better determine which businesses are nearby.

Bing explains that the largest change comes in the form of a new task navigation bar. “We’ve consolidated actions that were previously scattered throughout the page, and concentrated them along the top, where you expect to find them,” the company says.

The new navigation bar allows users to switch Maps views, get directions, print and share current locations and more.

Local marketers might especially like the new feature that enables users to center Bing Maps based on their current location. Users accessing Maps from updated browers that support W3C Geolocation API can click a new “Locate Me” button. This gives them a pin of their location and an approximate radius that indicates the proximity of businesses. This feature may help local businesses attract foot traffic – especially if and when the feature rolls out to mobile users who can conduct on-the-go Maps searches.

Google also implemented Maps updates not long ago that brought descriptive terms to Maps results. Of course, for this Maps development to work in merchants’ favors, marketers must focus on attracting brand advocates and positive user-generated content. Brands will want to wait and see whether the user-friendly Bing Maps updates help Microsoft gain more Maps searchers – and if this impacts the search overall market.

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.