Despite the small investment Microsoft has taken in Facebook, Bing has a much bigger stake which will hopefully turn into a more serious profit and marketshare as Bing’s partnership with Facebook continues to evolve.
Bing has been going through a serious makeover designed to improve user experience by accessing the Facebook social network of the user. By mining user data from Facebook, and other services — Bing is hoping to deliver a far greater relevancy and immediacy to users.
If you perform a Bing search such as, “best hotels for London Olympics”, you will get a set of results which will incorporate data from your Facebook friends, including pictures. The data will be mined from your Facebook friends who have visited London, or claim the 2012 Olympic city as their hometown, or other London connections.
This is essentially what Google has been trying to do by incorporating Google+ data within its own organic search results, but the major difference is that Facebook dominates consumer social networking, while Google+ has gained in popularity across business to business networking.
The Power of Partnership
There is a more immediate commercial need for Bing and Facebook to team up: they both see Google as a serious competitor. Bing needs to take more search engine market share, which is dominated by Google. Facebook wants to protect its existing market dominance in the social networking space against Google+.
The marriage is not just convenient, but a commercially and competitively sound strategy, although the partnership has yet to make any serious inroads into Google’s search market dominance.
Bing Design Improvements
Bing now delivers a very clean search interface, which is full of utility and continues to appeal to younger users.
In addition, Bing provides separate results from the same search query. On the left are the natural, organic search results unadulterated by social data, however on the right rail are results incorporating the Facebook information from the users’ social networking connections.
The result is an enhanced user choice and control over which search results they want to use. But the Facebook partnership is only part of the equation as they are also incorporating information from other social platforms such as Twitter, FourSquare and LinkedIn.
The big question is whether users will like the new Bing enough to adopt the platform as their search engine of choice. If they do, it will still be a long time before we start saying, Bing it!” instead of “Google it!”
However, for webmasters and site owners, the developments do demonstrate the importance of Bing, and not being too narrowly focused on Google as a sole supplier of quality traffic. Bing is a formidable player in the search engine space, and coupled with Yahoo!’s reach – Bing’s aggregate search marketshare has grown to 28.6% according to Comscore’s June 2012 report (see February report).
Now, with the inclusion of major social networks, especially Facebook — Google really does a have a fight on its hands to maintain its’ market dominance.