Bing, the #2 search engine in the North America just rolled out a social media integration that is being lauded by some as a game-changer. I agree, but not for obvious reasons.
This is going to have repercussions for Facebook. Facebook goes public next week asserting that they are valued at $96 billion. It’s generally believed that Facebook’s future value is tied to search (assuming they can figure out the pesky task of capitalization). Their inclusion is the first big test of how social search (using Facebook) could work.
Bing has been a huge investment by Microsoft that by and large hasn’t panned out. And (earmuffs Bing-philes) – it’s kind of a bad product. Take my name for example. It’s actually quite common – there is an actor, bowhunter, mayor, police chief, and many more that share it. But when you Google my name I get quite a few hits on the results page. This is to be expected as I write everyday on a site that oscillates between the top 1 and 2 percent of all websites. Yet on Bing I don’t show up on the front page at all. The first result is a website with no measurable web traffic and seven backlinks. This is exemplary of the relevance problem with Bing.
What’s interesting about Bing’s approach to social is that it exacerbates poor search results. By peppering social results throughout the SERP it further hides results that may have been of greater relevance. Point being, social integration into search is only as valuable as the search engine itself. A failure by Bing to gain market share with this overhaul is going to substantiate the value of a great search product like Google, and will justifiably call into doubt Facebook’s capability to gain a foothold in search.
I glossed over a feature on Bing called “sidebar” which is a social widget. It looks slick, it runs well, but at the end of the day it’s pointless to socialize around irrelevant results. It looks really sweet in Bing’s promotional video, though (below).
For all of the knocks against Google and its Google Plus integration, they get it more right than wrong. Anyone who disagrees with that should go Bing themselves.