Microsoft's search engine is about to tie its search results to the Facebook social graph in a move that will come as a blow to Google and its +1 initiative. Where Bing will be able to take existing "likes" from friends and integrate them into search, Google +1 has to be added from within search results before someone even clicks on a page. Google's biggest rivals are teaming up to try and make the Mountain View giant irrelevant in the future of social search.
The news was originally reported by Ad Age last week. Microsoft posted it as a blog post in its press center earlier today but the blog post had been pulled for unknown reasons. It is reported to be going live tomorrow, May 17. Bing put the blog post back up Monday afternoon with fuller details.
The most exciting news to come out of the release is that there will be a new Bing Bar with a "universal like button," the first of its kind. Users will now be able to like any page on the Web from anywhere, regardless if that site has a like button installed or not.
Bing search results will now show "liked results, answers and sites" by showing contents that friends have liked. It will also show personalized results by surfacing content that friends have liked from "deep within" search results to the top page. Around 33% of users click on the top link of search results with click-through results dropping precipitously going down the page and to subsequent pages. So, if your friend liked something that was buried on page 89 of the search results, Bing will in theory bring it to the front page.
Crowd Sourcing Search
Outside of friends, Bing is looking towards crowd sourcing the decision engine by using the aggregate of likes on the Internet and bringing them to forefront. Bing also apparently will have the ability to crawl Facebook Pages for what brands and companies are posting online.
It is not just pages though, Bing can crawl profiles too. According to the pulled blog post; "Now when people search for a specific person, Bing provides a more in-depth bio snapshot, such as location, education and employment details, to help them find the person they're looking for more quickly."
Google cannot do this because Facebook does not allow it. But, Microsoft has always had a good relationship with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and were one of the early investors in the social platform, so Bing gets to integrate Facebook basically as much as it wants. A lot of people have come to count on the fact that Google cannot crawl Facebook for privacy reasons so with Bings basically unfiltered access, it might be time to revisit those privacy settings within Facebook.
Other features include "shared shopping lists" and flight planners that help friends share ticketing information to look for the best deal. It will also help you find friends in different cities when you are traveling with a function called "friends who live here."