Search Engine Marketing Home / Blog article: Ben Wood: Facebook, Bing and the future of search
Ben Wood: Facebook, Bing and the future of search
Mon, 14 May 2012
Ben Wood, MD, iProspect
We now take for granted that search is the most important web utility. For consumers, search engines continue to act as a gateway to the web, a start point to all web journeys. For advertisers, they represent an unmatched opportunity to place a brand or offer into the line of sight of a consumer when they are most actively engaged. And for the technology and publishing players developing search engine technologies and algorithms, they are both revenue and data goldmines.
We also know that in search, relevancy is king. Mathematical improvements and tweaks continue to improve engine algorithms (and make them ever harder for agencies to second guess) and results have become ever more universal with the introduction of video- and image-based results.
But in the battle for relevancy, there is a new frontier: social media.
It stands to reason that the social graph should help to refine our search engine experience, making results ever more personal and relevant. Of course we are more likely to like products that our friends like, buy and engage with, so “social integration” is the new battle ground as engines seek to continue to drive relevance.
To this end, in a smart symbiotic partnership, Facebook and Bing have been working together for some time now, pooling their resources in search and social media to build the foundations of a (potentially) world-beating social search product. It’s a real win/win, with Bing getting the social shot in the arm it needs and Facebook helping to defend its dominance of the social sphere.
Not to be outmanoeuvred, across the road in Mountain View, Google has built its own social platform, Google+ with a similar long-term search and social media integration model in mind. I’m sure many people have seen the initial impact on results.
Now Bing has extended its efforts by “making social recommendations a part of search”, essentially incorporating Facebook’s Like feature directly into its search results. This movement towards further integration between Facebook and Bing moves the game on again, and is great news for marketers in the digital space – if we recognise how to act on it.
I would propose two simple strategies:
- Take Bing seriously Search is bigger than Google, and in the US, the combined Bing reach across MSN and Yahoo is creeping towards 30% of the total query market. While the balance is weighed more heavily towards Google in Europe, effective social integration could be the game changer. Facebook certainly has the data volume to make social search relevant and universal through Bing in a way that might be out of reach for Google until we see more volume in its own social environments.
- Get “social by design” If you don’t have an effective strategy to properly engage with users in social environments, then in turn you will not be building the social signals that the engines are looking to incorporate and build upon.
One thing is clear: the future of search is most definitely social and the incredible shift in relevance – and usefulness – we will see when this fully develops shouldn’t be underestimated. And where there is relevance consumers will follow, and where there are consumers, brands will follow. For Bing, on the back of the Yahoo distribution deal, this partnership could just be the game changer.