Bing Ups Ante In Social Search, Adds More Facebook “Likes” To Search Results

Bing is taking the next step in its self-conscious evolution from “search engine” to “decision engine.” Perhaps we could equally use the term “conversation engine,” as Bing begins to emphasize social content and even tries to enable connections between people through the deeper integration of Facebook and “Likes” data.

It isn’t news that Bing is integrating the Facebook data; that was originally announced in October last year. Rather the news today is that Bing is entering a kind of “phase II” of the process, doing some more interesting and potentially useful things with Likes.

According to Microsoft, which spoke to us about the changes and also has done a blog post, there are three components of the new, more social Bing experience:

  • Trusted Friends
  • Collective IQ
  • Enabling Conversations

“Trusted Friends”

Trusted Friends stands for deeper and broader integration of your networks’ Likes. The objective is to reduce noise and clutter by showing results that are preferred by members of your network. This was extensively discussed back in October during the original announcement.

Microsoft says that “Bing shows the faces of up to three of your friends that like a search result, offering a visual, virtual seal of approval from your trusted social network” (see  image below).

Search results are also being re-ranked based on Likes. Microsoft discussed this in principle last year when it first introduced Facebook data into search results.

Now, as a practical matter however, Bing is elevating Liked results if they’re associated with people in your network. For example, an hotel, news story, restaurant or brand that has been Liked by someone in your network and appears on page two of a search result or below it may now be elevated to page one. This is completely specific to your network and won’t affect others’ results.

The SEO implications of Likes are thus more obvious than ever, at least in terms of Bing.

“Collective IQ”

Collective IQ refers to the presentation of aggregated Facebook data: most popular sites, stories and so on. It’s the wisdom of the crowd in total and not just the opinions of your personal Facebook network.

Because people in your network may not have any experience with the thing you’re searching for the Collective IQ effort can provide a useful additional source of information or recommendations.

“Enabling Conversation”

The third category, which Microsoft is calling “enabling conversation,” is the most involved but in some ways the most intriguing aspect of all of this. Simply put Bing is seeking to enable people to quickly identify those people in their network who may be able to help them in making a decision or providing advice.

Bing is providing an expanded Facebook profile search capability with a longer bio, including details about your friends’ locations, education, employment and so on. The idea is to find someone who might be knowledgeable about a desired subject.

There are also vertical-specific features on Travel and Bing Shopping designed to help people interact around buying decisions:

  • Bing Travel Wish List: You can compare trips with friends on Facebook, get their input, suggest new destinations for friends, and learn more about a destination on Bing Travel.
  • Friends Who Live Here: Bing will show you which of your Facebook friends live or have lived in the city you’re traveling to, so you know exactly who to go to for travel tips.
  • Flight Deals: Bing will send you great deals on flights directly to your Facebook feed, for cities you’ve liked on Bing Travel.
  • Shared Shopping Lists: You can build a shopping list and share, compare and discuss it with your friends on Facebook.

The Bing toolbar also now includes a “universal Like button,” which enables tagging of any site or page you visit to help create more social recommendations.

Google +1

Bing and Facebook’s joint announcement in October that Like data was coming to Bing SERPs put additional pressure on Google to accelerate its own social search efforts. Google introduced social search/”Social Circles” in 2009 but more recently introduced the potentially more significant +1 button in March.

Because Google has not been able to gain access to Facebook data it created its own version of the Like button, which it eventually hopes will rival Facebook’s across the web.

Last week Facebook struck back with a controversial anti-Google PR effort that many labeled a smear campaign. The exposure of that “whisper campaign” (about privacy and “Social Circles”) created lots of negative coverage for Facebook. That black eye will heal but the move illustrates how the stakes around social search have gotten much higher and the tactics rougher.

Related Entries

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Facebook | Features: General | Google: Social Search | Google: Web Search | Microsoft: Bing | Microsoft: Bing Shopping | Microsoft: Bing Social Search | Microsoft: Bing Travel | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Brian Williford 

    In the near future we will not search for content. Content will search for us.

  • Grant

    Glad to see that someone is finally starting to use ‘collective’ like data in their search results… we launched last year as a quick proof of concept that this idea has legs. I really hope that the bing search team gets access to the ‘messages’ that fb users type in when sharing a link as that text is the anchor text of the modern web.

  • Gareth O’ Neill

    This is brilliant and provides Bing with the USP that makes it a real threat to Google’s dominance in search.

  • Johan Hedin

    I think that the like buttons can be exploited a lot by spammers..All you have to do is to hire a bunch of them and like your site so there has to be more deeper signals and more reliable measures if they are to compete with Google’s technology..

  • Mimsy

    I like a lot of things my social network doesn’t like, and vice versa.

    Useless to me. Good for sheeple, I guess. And there are a LOT more sheeple than independent thinkers, for sure.

  • Luke Alley

    Sure, I’ll notice a website that my friend has Liked or +1′d but I think I would trust the search engine with the best algorithm to find the best results. That is the magic of a search engine, you type in a question and it pops out the answer. Like Johan said the like buttons can be exploited. I have friends that ask me to like something just because I’m their friend, not because I feel strongly about the issue or really like the website. Apart from 1 or 2 people closest to me, I don’t care too much about what my friends in high school think of sites.

  • Sean Carlos

    Any word from bing as to when this might roll out worldwide? It appears to be US only for now if I’m not wrong.

  • Jeremiah

    I guess you can say ANYONE with “two brain cells rubbing together” could see this coming from a “MILE” away… lol – With the current battles going on between Google and Bing, it was just inevitable. And I look at this kind of like an “audible” to the move that Google had recently with the +1 Ranking System that they came out with, just like you said here Greg. I don’t know why I’m kind of repeating what you just said, but I guess I feel like “venting, and giving my own 2 cent’s as they say, lol :-P”

    This was a very well written article and very informative Greg, GJ again dude. For my line of work (IT), it’s BEYOND critical, as you can imagine – Thanks.

    And also thanks for keeping me and everyone else here updated on the “search engine WARS, as I call them”, and as I said in an earlier blog post – “Boy am I happy I found this website! LOL, I can’t believe I’ve never stumbled on this in all my days…. weird…..” lol but at least I found you now!

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