Recently, Bing, the world’s second largest search engine, announced they are making search more social with a Facebook integration that will both put social elements directly into search results and incorporate them into search algorithms. Essentially, Bing is now positioning itself as a search engine that can help you use your friends to make decisions you are using search to find information about. For example, you could use input from your friends on which sweater to buy, what dentist to choose, or where to go for lunch. By integrating with Facebook, the world’s largest social network, Bing can now use a wealth of personally relevant information to enhance its search experience.
This move supports the “decision engine” differentiator Bing is trying to establish between it and competitor Google. The jury is still out on whether this deeper Facebook integration will increase search volume on Bing, but one thing is certain: it places even more weight on the value of social in search. Google has already begun to integrate social signals into search; now, there is even more urgency to address the social element in the search experience.
So, what is Bing Social Search, and how does it work?
Bing users who choose to log into the site via their Facebook account will be able to use the social search feature. Here are some of the key features:
- Updated Algorithm: If your friends have liked a Facebook page, that will positively affect Bing social search rakings for any search query you type. So a page or website that would show up on page four of regular search could now show up on the top of your search results. For example, if you search for a local florist and five of your Facebook friends liked the website of Joe’s florist, their site will rank higher in your personal results.
- Search Results: In social search, Bing will display the profile pictures of up to three of your Facebook friends who have liked a page that shows up in your results.
- Popular Content: When a website shows up in Bing results, the popular content (like pages, posts, or recipes) on that site will be featured under the website’s search result.
- Social Messages: In addition to seeing what friends are liking and sharing online, search results will display recent Facebook messages from companies a user searches for on Bing.
- People Search: Not only will Facebook accounts be featured in the results for specific people, but searches of content related to their profile could also show up in results,
- New Bing Toolbar: For users, this essentially makes the Facebook Like button universal. Whether or not a website has installed the Like button on their page, users will be able to like any web page using the Bing toolbar. Users will also be able to update their Facebook status, share content, and more, directly from the Bing bar.
- Facebook Sharing: Users will be able to easily share content like images, videos, and products with Facebook friends with Bing.
Check out this video for more details on how it works:
Why Is Bing Social Search important for local businesses?
In its promotional materials, Bing is emphasizing the importance of Social Search for consumers who want to make savvy decisions about what to buy and what local businesses to choose. The company has also noted that they will be incorporating more social signals (think Tweets, checkins, etc.) into their algorithm. As Social Search continues to evolve and become widespread, the emphasis on social integration may well become the standard across the search landscape. That means the building blocks of a solid Web Presence – search discovery, social discovery, brand engagement, and online reputation – will all play an even greater, integrated role in local online marketing:
- Search: Companies with an active social presence will show up higher in organic search results as algorithms begin to directly incorporate social likes and shares.
- Social: Businesses creating content for fans to like and share on sites like Twitter and Facebook will boost both search and social discovery.
- Brand Engagement: Building a thriving online community for your business will help your brand beyond just having a presence on popular sites like Facebook and Twitter, because all the social signals fans and followers create will play a vital component in search engine optimization, too.
- Reputation: Business reviews on third-party sites will remain a critical element of your Web Presence, but social signals such as Facebook Likes will also factor into how consumers see your online reputation – and whether or not they see your brand at all.
Having an integrated approach to building a Web Presence that focuses on developing all of these elements is vital to marketing your local business online. That’s why local businesses that start applying a holistic approach to online marketing now and continue investing in Web Presence Optimization will be ahead of the game.
What’s the future of social search for your local business?
- Search Plus Social: What is Google +1 and Why Does It Matter?
- Social Engagement and SEO: Comments, Shares & Likes Can Boost Search Rank
- Search Gets Social: Google Using Social Data in Ranking
About the Author
Tiffany Monhollon writes about social media, marketing, and local business success as the lead blogger for ReachCast, a service that helps local business owners develop their Web Presence.