When you look at the numbers, there's no doubt that Google is the clear leader among search engines. But if recent moves by Google and Bing, in which both added social indicators to their search algorithms, are any indication, then social search could be the thing of the future.
We have to wonder then, if social search is indeed the next big thing, if Bing could have found some solid ground to stand on in taking on the big G.
Google was the first of the big search engines to introduce the idea of social search, bringing social context to search results back in October 2009 and again updating the feature in February 2011. So far, though, Google's search results have relied primarily on Twitter data and then secondarily on sources like personal blogging platforms. It has been missing one major element however: Facebook.
In case you haven't noticed, Google and Facebook notoriously just don't get along, with the most recent scrap involving Facebook allegedly hiring a PR firm to smear Google's good name.
It seems clear by now that Google will likely be the last company on the planet to gain access to the wealth of social data held close by Facebook.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has been buddy-buddy with Facebook for some time now. Just yesterday Bing, Microsoft's top-tier and second place search engine, tied its search results to Facebook's massive social graph. According to an article in Fast Company, the addition of social to Bing's search results isn't going to end there. Stefan Weitz, director at Bing, told Fast Company that Microsoft has plans to bring in social signals from a host of other sites, such as Twitter, Yelp and more.
"There are more signals than just 'Likes,'" said Weitz. "There are tweets, check-ins--when I'm at Spur restaurant in Seattle, and I say it's the best lamb tartare and post that on Yelp, that's a signal as well. There's a world where all these social and personal signals--whatever you want to call them--are consumed and indexed and made sense of."
The question now is whether or not you think social search really is the all-important future and holy grail of accurate search results. If it is, then Bing could have a leg up on Google in the form of around 600 million avidly "liking" and constantly connecting users - something Google isn't likely to see any time soon.
After all, Microsoft just isn't angering the masses like it used to. It doesn't seem like that much of a stretch for Microsoft to bring in Twitter data. And besides, remember, Twitter is NOT a social network.
Which network would you want in your attempts to provide social search - the not very social Twitter or Facebook, the site with its "like" button on more than 2.5 million websites worldwide? We'd put our money on Facebook.