The Battle of Major Search Engine Updates Part 1: Bing & Social Search

Remember Bing? You know, that search engine from Microsoft currently sitting in the corner with about 15% of the search market share? (Or about 28% combined with Yahoo considering Bing powers Yahoo’s search). It’s been quietly performing second to Google ever since its launch in 2009 with a few changes every now and then and has remained mostly the same, until now.

Last week Bing announced its most radical change to date – bringing social influence and interaction into search results. Their aim is to introduce “a brand new way to search designed to help you take action and interact with friends and experts without compromising the core search experience” (something Google tried). The new Bing is all about a 3 column design:

Traditional Web Results

The new Bing starts with traditional search results everyone has grown to know, no matter what search engine you use. Bing has even taken steps to clean up the interface for its take on the classic 10 blue links.


The second column is now called Snapshot and is designed to help you get things done faster. It brings the most relevant information for your query to help you take action. For example, if you’re looking for a restaurant in Portland Snapshot will display maps & location, hours, links for reservations and more. In fact, Bing is partnering with platforms like OpenTable (for reservations) to help you take action faster.

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Here is where things get interesting. On the far right of the SERP, Bing is introducing the Sidebar. It’s designed to bring the “best of the web, with what experts and your friends know, giving you the confidence to act” and lets you “share, discover, and interact with friends like they do in real life.” Sidebar starts with a deep integration with Facebook (signing up for the Bing requires you to connect with the Bing Facebook app and grant access to your account). Sidebar includes:

  • The ability to ask your friends questions as you search on Bing and share links to your search results. They can reply through Facebook or Bing.
  • Suggestions of friends that might know about what you’re searching, based off what they have “liked” or photos they have shared. For example, if you are researching a trip to Germany, Sidebar will show a friend with albums from Munich.
  • Sidebar is not just limited to Facebook, it will pull in experts from other social media profiles like Twitter, Quora, LinkedIn and yes, even Google+ that Bing thinks will help you find answers.

The most important thing is that the Sidebar will remain off to the side and not intrusive. It works for every search query, but is collapsible if you so choose. This is the key difference from Google’s decision to force social search results onto its users.

With the new Bing rolling out to users over the coming days, is this enough of a change to get you to try it again? If you have always been a regular user of Bing, have they found the right mix of algorithmic and social search?

Additional Resources:
Inside Facebook – Bing Expands Facebook Integration
Mashable – Bing Social Search Discovery

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