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With the dust barely settled on Google +1, it appears Bing is also looking to use social data to help provide more personalised results. The developments will see Facebook likes being incorporated into SERPs, friend recommendations being used and the sharing of events, deals and even shopping lists.
Essentially this signals a more collaborative approach between Bing and Facebook, with both using shared data to provide users with a more personalised and targeted experience. The three different components to this update have been titled, ‘Trusted Friends’, ‘Collective IQ’ and ‘Conversational Search’. If that doesn’t mean a whole lot to you, I’ll try to explain a little further now.
Essentially this will allow you to see products, hotels and services that your friends have recommended through Facebook. This will appear within the SERPs with their name and the Like symbol. Therefore if you’re looking to make a quick decision or want to get a second opinion, it should be easier to do so.
Pages that have been liked will automatically receive a higher ranking, ensuring that you don’t miss them. This of course will have a knock on effect for those who naturally rank well for the same search terms, although should obviously offer a more personalised and targeted result for users.
Pooling the collective knowledge and recommendations of the Facebook network, Bing are looking to ensure that the cream of the Internet rises to the top of its results. Therefore, if a page has received a number of likes from a range of authoritative sources (not necessarily friends) it could gain higher rankings, and again, the likes will be shown within SERPs.
The latest updates from large brands (when searching for the company name or associated product) will also be included, helping to identify any special promotions or other information quickly.
This is all about sharing information and cross checking against your Facebook friends. For instance you can set up a list of places that you want to visit and you’ll be told who lives there and what events are happening throughout the year. You will also be informed about any specific flight deals and provided with a recommendation on whether it’s a good time to buy (based on the volatility and trends within that specific offer).
You can also share shopping lists and all sorts of other consumer data.
If you’re still confused, here’s a quick explanatory video from Bing.
With likes becoming key to the Bing algorithm, it’s hardly a surprise that they have now integrated the Facebook like functionality within its toolbar. Therefore, wherever you are on the Internet, you can quickly like a specific page and help your friends and the wider world to locate it within their search results.
Personalising search results has long been viewed as the Holy Grail for search engines. However, finding a way to do so without compromising privacy or user experience has always proven to be a huge challenge. By working together with Facebook, and it’s near 700 million user-base, Bing should be able to develop a system that will provide SERPs that are more targeted than ever. Perhaps it may even become the “decision engine” it has always claimed to be.
It’s not clear whether this current update is global just yet, although if past performance is anything to go by, the UK could be waiting a while to see any changes. Even so, it will be interesting to watch how personalised search develops in the coming months and years, with Google and Bing both working hard to support their algorithms with user data.
To find out more about these developments, visit the Bing Community Blog.