19 May 2011 | Team Tamar

Bing utilising Facebook data to break Google’s dominance in Search

In October last year, Bing took its first steps into the world of ‘social searching’ when it began displaying search results that included Facebook ‘Like’ data.  An expansion incorporating Facebook data into its search engine algorithm was announced this week. It would appear Microsoft are attempting to positioning themselves as a social search engine and betting on this breaking Google’s dominance.

Features of the new Bing-Facebook integration include:

  • Anything on the web can be ‘liked’

Users will able to like individual website pages or the entire website.  There is also a universal ‘like’ button for users of the Bing toolbar.

  • ‘Likes’ affect on search results

Bing has incorporated ‘likes’ into its search algorithm. ‘Likes’ will act as a signal to popular and trending items on the web and as result given increased visibility within a users search results.

  • Deeper Facebook profile search

A short bio of your Facebook friends, in addition to a link to their profile page will be visible on the front page of Bing results

  • Social shopping

Users will be able to compare shopping lists, travel searches and deals with their Facebook friends.

It’s important to highlight that Google itself could easily fit the label of ‘social search engine’ given that it has for some time been incorporating social elements such as YouTube videos and Tweets into its search results. Google also recently launched its rival Facebook ‘like’ recommendation button named ‘+1’. Nevertheless, if both search engines plan to battle it out for the positioning of ‘social search engine’ then surely there’s only going to be one winner…Bing. Facebook not only has 600 million users worldwide, it’s a platform where users are accustomed to regularly sharing personalised information such as brand preferences, travel arrangements and geographic location to name a few. Bing will be able to utilise this information and display a personalised search result, which can only help improve the user experience.

I feel the big question is not really focused around search engine brand position or what social platforms the search engines incorporate into their search results or algorithms. The fundamental factor that will determine a user search engine preference is ‘quality of search results’. Are users really bothered whether a friend within their network liked a particular website? Or are they more concerned with the relevancy of the website to their search query? The likelihood is that the Bing-Facebook update will see users spread their searches across the two search engines (e.g. ‘restaurants London’ on Bing and ‘dental practice London’ on Google), which is likely to result in a small, but highly valuable increase in market share for Bing.

Team Tamar