Social Search – Will Bing’s Offering Topple Search Giant Google?

Bing recently announced their collaboration with Facebook which has allowed Bing search results to display data from the social network based on the ‘Like’ feature.

Social search from Bing

Bing uses information from Facebook to influence search

From a user experience point of view, this means that users can make better educated assertions about search results and which will be more relevant to them. Bing will aid this decision by including most ‘Liked’ results at the top of the page, providing a personalised search experience.

This idea is not a new one, and has been something discussed via blogs and within search engines for a while. The idea of the ‘tribal search‘ (where social networks and connections influence search results) has seemed to be the ‘Holy Grail’ for SE’s – but until now, Facebook have kept their data private.

“People ask their friends for information to help make decisions all the time.” explained the announcement from Bing.

“How was the food in that new restaurant, should I go see that movie in the theatre or wait till DVD, or what do you think of that hot new phone? Today Bing launches a new feature called Liked Results, which uses Facebook “like” information to help you discover new information and get more personalized results in Bing.”

The new functionality on Bing will also allow users to search for friends on Facebook via the search engine, displaying results for the people the user will most likely know (based on mutual friends) and allowing the user to add the person as a friend or send them a message direct from the SERP (search engine results page). In line with Facebook’s privacy policy, these results only show content designated as ‘public’.

Google, however, have not entirely missed the boat on this one. The number one search engine already includes real time search results from Twitter and ’share counters’ to show how many times search results have been shared.

Social search from Google

Google uses Twitter 'shares' in search results

The personalisation of search results continues to evolve – and it makes sense. The use of a users existing social footprint as an indicator of what information will be most useful for them has the potential to really improve the user experience.

So, can Bing’s social search compete with Google? As I write, Google is the top search engine by far, with the word ‘Google’ now used as a verb, making it synonymous with search. But without access to Facebook information, can Google continue to reign as King of Search? Will you change your search behaviour based on this?

And don’t forget, we’re still waiting for more from Google on their social network offering, known in the industry as Google Me. If this offering turns out to be a new social network, and that new social network has the power to affect and improve search results, can Google simultaneously take down Bing and Facebook?

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