Microsoft is revamping its Bing search engine to include advice from Facebook and other social media platforms. Social Media was predicted to become a lot more important for search engines in 2012, and Microsoft looks like it is the early innovator with this.
The move involves the introduction of a new sidebar which seeks to connect users with friends and other experts on a topic who can make the search results more relevant and social.
The firm says it is based on the fact “90% of people consult with a friend or expert before making a decision”.
According to our client’s analytics, about 85% of internet users are using Google as their search engine, and our SEO work priorities reflect this. This is a bold move by Bing to make their search results more social and relevant, if this then attracts more users to Microsoft’s Search Engine then we will definitely take that into consideration!
The new service appears on the right-hand side of all results and includes a feature dubbed Friends Who Might Know.
Bing suggests friends on Facebook who might know about the topic you’ve just searched for – based on what they ‘like’, their Facebook profile information, or photos they have shared so you can easily ask them about relevant experiences and opinions.
For example, if you’re searching for diving spots in Costa Rica… you may discover that one of your friends knows a great spot, based on photos from their last trip.
Beyond Facebook the firm said it would also flag up other experts identified from their posts on Google’s social network Google+ as well as Twitter, Foursquare, Quora and Linkedin.
Microsoft said that the service would roll out “in the coming days” in the US, but did not mention other locations.
Using social signals for search results is a viable strategy to improve relevancy as people tend to trust each other more and can help with the whole discovery process. This will help Microsoft compete against Google and may encourage people to try switching to Bing.
The move builds on a partnership between Microsoft and Facebook created when the Windows-maker paid $240m for a 1.6% stake in the social network in 2007. When Facebook goes public soon, that stake will be worth more than $1bn.
I think this is a very good move from Bing, Google are currently by far the most dominant force in the search engine market, moving forward however teaming up with the company with the largest marketing share in social media to improve your search results could well reduce Google’s dominance in the years to come.