May 26

Google vs Bing -The Social Search Battle Begins

Saturday, May 26, 2012 by Enamul Hasan Ismail
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The Ultimate Social Search Between Google and Bing

In the past decade, we have relied on search engines to find information from across the web. With the inflex of growing user engagement in social media platforms, search will only get better with personalised results in form of images, posts and more recommendation from friends and families.

In the last couple of months, both Google and Microsoft have added new features that try to make your search a more socially connected experience. Now when you search at Google or Bing, you don't just get a list of Web pages that match your search but also recommendations and information from your friends and connections.

Google's January rollout of Search Plus Your World is relying purely on its Google+ network and integrating social content right into its organic results. On the other hand, Microsoft's Bing is planning to still keep search results pure and most relevant but including social feeds taken off its Facebook to a separate sidebar to distinguish the social results from the web results.

Let's review Google and Bing on their respective social search strategies.

Google's Search Plus Your World in Action

If you are an avid Google user, you would have noticed some obvious changes in with Google Plus which integrates your personal results and profiles of people you know or follow. It is even possible to expand your world by exploring people related to your search.

Highlights of Google Plus and Social Search

  • Google Plus content from your circles
    By keeping "Personal" search on, relevant Google+ posts and comments that have been shared with you will now appear directly into your organic search results.
  • Photos from you and your friends
    Photos shared with you on Google+ or uploaded by your connections will be included in your personalised results.
  • Social recommendations from your circles
    The importance that we usually give to our friend's word or advise in real life, you'll now see relevant tips, photos, and videos from your connections in your circle right alongside organic results from the web.
  • Networking with like minded individuals and authors
    We search for information to gain information. Information is powerful. But that information is more powerful if it comes from people who know their stuff. What if you can connect with experts based on what you are looking, within your search results? With Google plus results, you can discover people related to your search and connect by adding them to your circles.

Micrsoft Bing's Social Search in Action

With Google making massive efforts to personalise its search results for its users, Microsoft's search giant, Bing is trying to go one step above Google by rolling out its beta version of Social Search in the US last week. Let's review the three main column that makes up Bing's social search experience.

Highlights of Bing's Social Search

  • Search Knows Column
    Bings is trying to rebrand itself as a "social fact finder" and believes its algorithmic search delivers contextual results that gives you exactly what you are looking for. Although Bing is keeping its main search results separate from its social results, you can easily "Like" a search listing and see if a listing has the approval of your friends in Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.
  • Bing Knows Column(Snapshot)
    This column aims to bring external 3rd party services to make it easy for people to either book a hotel room, look at prices of products, product comparison and so forth. For example, you could be looking for Foo Fighters tour dates and Bing may give you options to book tickets for Foo Fighters' next world wide tour all on the same page.
  • Friends Know Column
    This is the column that draws the most attention and potential. The column in a nutshell draws your friend's activities and interest based on a topic. Let's say you do a search for "nikon slr camera", you could see friends who have "liked" Nikon and as well as comments from your friends who could have an interest in photography. And you can ask them a message straight from this column which will go in their Facebook notification. Within this column, there is also a "People Who Know" tab which lists experts who know their stuff about a topic or niche market. Who is to stop you from picking their brains from sending them a FB message or tweeting them? A great way to discover and network with like minded people and experts.

Who Will Win The Social Search Battle?

It is definitely going to be an interesting battle as to who will win the social search battle. Both Google and Bing have got strong ammunition in their web arsenal. Google has invested billions of dollars into its algorithm and has seen Yahoo give up after 15 years. Apparently it costs Google $5 billion to $10 billion per year to run a search engine. As such, Google eat, sleeps and breathes search.

On the other hand, Google's major weakness is its heavy reliance on Google Plus. After reviewing Bing's Social Search, it looks more promising with its tighter holistic integration of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. With Facebook's strong 900 million user base, Bing can easily empower its users to use its streamlined search with more social reach. Hence I tend to lean slightly towards Bing in its bid to win the social search battle. However, it remains to be seen if users will find Bing's new features socially engaging enough to give up on Google for good. At the end of the day, it will be interesting times for us as consumers!

Please leave your comments below on what do you think of social search battle between Google and Bing?

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