Bing: Socially Enhanced Search Results

Web searches help a ton in our quest to find information about things we looking for or want to know. Searches play a critical role in decision making and more so when it comes to personal use. Whenever possible, we are more inclined to take our friends’ advice than trusting a random person suggesting something in a blog.

But what if the link you are looking at has already been liked by your friend who found it to be helpful? Taking help from Facebook, Bing has introduced couple of social features to its search results to help you make the right choice. Follow me after the fold to find out more about the social features of Bing.

Social Powered Search

We are all now familiar with Facebook Like buttons and how ubiquitous they have become. Odds are you might have Liked a few of them and your friends would have too. But how will you know or keep track of all the links liked by your friends? It is not going to be easy to rely on the feed as it gets flooded with status messages by the minute. Bing and Facebook have figured out a way to insert the links liked by your friends if they are relevant to the keyword you are searching for.

Social Powered Search Results

Social Powered Search Results

Now, if you search for something on Bing or in web results section of a Facebook search (powered by Bing), you will be able to see your friends’ faces as icons next to web pages they have liked. So, you now have great recommendations from your friends circle to filter out the best websites for your keyword.

People Search

People Search

People Search

The second feature in the Bing social package is improved People Search. Bing now makes it easy to find new friends or connect with old ones when you search for a name. When you execute a search – say Will Smith – Bing does not show a list of all Will Smiths out there. Instead, search results provide only the most relevant names to you based on your Facebook connections. Mutual friends and friends of friends will now be listed first as a result. And better yet, Bing lets you to add these people as friends on Facebook directly from search results page.

Practical Usage

Adding a social layer to day to day search results is a brilliant idea and something that Google cannot implement at the moment. Bing team should be rejoicing that they have finally managed to have one-upped Google in atleast one of the features. However, the practical uses of the social powered search results are largely insignificant. Atleast for now.

True that lot of websites have Like buttons and millions of links are liked every day by people. But the odds of a link liked by your friends, relevant to your search turning up every time are pretty thin. For instance, what is the probability of my Facebook friends to have liked a link when I searching for a flight home or looking for a good deal to buy a new alarm clock? On the other hand, this feature might be useful when searching for videos or movies as Likes are more common in YouTube and IMDB.

People search on the other hand sounds interesting. For those looking to find new friends (internet is not the right place, IMHO) or to expand your network, people search should be of some help.

Opting Out

Of late there exists a growing section of people keeping a watchful eye on all the moves Facebook makes. These social features show up in Bing because they are part of Facebook’s select group of “Instant Personalization” partners (thanks to a hefty amount invested by Microsoft back in the day).

Instant Personalization

Instant Personalization

It is this Instant Personalization that allows sites exclusive access to your Facebook social graph, inclusive of all of your data and friend information. If you do not want third party websites to access your data, you can opt out of Instant Personalization from the Facebook Privacy Settings screen. Though tucked under a few layers, control over your privacy is just one check mark away.

Share Your Thoughts!

What do you think of the new social twist in search? Will it be useful or is it a bit creepy? Share your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks!


Add Yours
  • The interesting area of Bing for me is how Apple took out the “Google” button from Mobile Safari, and added Bing functionality, all in the same update. Sour grapes? Bing favorability? It’s an interesting watch …

    • If you look at it though, Bing seems to be the most willing to revolutionise. They are constantly adding new features and improving existing ones, its changing more rapid. Google has only had interface tweaks (the most users see, so we can’t include API’s) and if I’m honest, they are annoying. Like endless scrolling on image results, that’s hell in IE!

  • Neat..

  • Yes social bookmarking really revolutionized the seo process…but a good site really have to follow web 2.0 standards…i have applied some work in cheap textbooks which follows all the standards of web 2.0 as well