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by John Waghorn on 11th May 2012
Microsoft search engine Bing has revealed phase two of its major revamp as they look to increase market share by integrating social tools on their search pages.The update features new social tools which will be added to the right hand side of results pages to display user mentions and ratings from your social connections.
Mixed with these ratings, there will also be topic experts and enthusiasts added to the results field; although these are identified by Bing, rather than the people you are connected with via social platforms. Bing believes that these changes are the biggest they have seen since the search engine first launched three years ago, and they are set to be introduced rapidly over the next two weeks.
Similar to Google’s Search Plus Your World, the Bing social tool will be kept separate from the main trail of organic results. The current figures for Bing in relation to market share show a rate of below 4% in the UK and 16% in the US according to digital business analytics comScore [see Search Engine Market Share Statistics – April 2012]. The inclusion of existing and also user generated data is another way for Bing to share social results clearly on search pages without clouding the organic trail of results on the SERPs.
In addition to the changes mentioned above, the search engine underdogs have also stated that more relevant information from the whole of the web will now be viewable, turning their attention away from company sites for data. It’s certainly a good step in the right direction for Bing. Whilst news rings out that Yahoo has seen another decline of the search engine market share, its eighth straight monthly decrease, the tools will soon be in place to try and reduce a proportion of the major stake held by search giants Google.
At present the social toolbar will only be available through Facebook results as users sign into Facebook and install the Bing App. However, over time the side bar will eventually feature Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora, and even Google+ content, although it’s highly likely that Google won’t ever agree to share their private data with Bing, who will have to use a proportion of what’s available to them. In essence, the search results will display natural results, Bing’s suggested results and then the social toolbar all sweeping from left to right.
This feature won’t be available for every search term and instead Microsoft will use four key areas for this type of search query – restaurants, hotels, movies, events and people.
In an effort to make their results far more relevant, Bing’s Senior Director, Stefan Weitz has spoken about the new social toolbar by saying “The ten blue links that search has been predicted on for the last decade no longer makes sense”.
With the social toolbar, users can search for a term and then post a message or ask a friend on Facebook that has a connection with that specific search term. For example, if you searched for The Mayfair Hotel London, the results will display your friends in the toolbar who have liked the hotel, added a relevant photo, posted a message about it, or conducted a similar search via Bing. This allows you to use your friends as a recommendation in order to form your opinions on the hotel and ask questions on Facebook directly through Bing.
How we are getting hold of information is changing, Google introduced Search Plus Your World and now Bing are set to follow suit – albeit in their own way. Social is becoming an important area within search as search engines and networks try to incorporate the two in order to provide better and more user friendly generated results, even Facebook are getting in on the action. How well people take to these changes remains to be seen, but in the meantime Bing has another opportunity to take more of the market share away from Google. Next month’s market share statistics should be able to shed some light on how effective these changes have been.