Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bing Offers New 'Social Search'

Google rolled out "Search Your World' not very long ago and I was anything but impressed. First, the new feature was touted as a social search tool, however it only searched my Google+ network. Despite daily use, Google+ is my smallest and least used social network so searching there is absolutely pointless. It should have at least given users the option of searching their other networks. But alas, it did not.

Then, it kept pushing those results to the top of my search page, interfering with the search results process I needed to accomplish as quickly and painlessly as possible. I turned it off within hours of the roll-out and haven't turned it back on since.

Now Bing is releasing its own social search function which it hopes will be more meaningful for its users by providing more relevant results.

Bing--remember Bing? That's the Microsoft search engine that has failed miserably in the search engine wars. Mostly it has failed because it decides what you are looking for and shows you that instead of just showing you everything that falls under the category of things you are searching for. Anyway, you're forgiven for being unaware of Bing.

But all that may change now that they are offering a REAL social search function. It is better and more effective than the Google "Search Your World" function in almost every way. For instance, it will search your Facebook and Twitter networks, plus your Google+ network (such as it may be.) In another burst of genius design, instead of plopping the results at the top of your search it puts them in a sidebar, out of the way.

The Google+ network now allegedly boasts more than 100 million users, but in my experience it is still mostly a one-way street. Engagement is close to zero and most people I know are not using it at all. In the meantime instead of creating its own network Microsoft has partnered with both Facebook and Twitter, opening up a treasure trove of information they can now mine at leisure with Bing.

Google still commands the lion's share of the search marketplace, while Bing is struggling to hold on to its 15 percent share, but this latest feature might just be enough to tip the scales in their favor. Now, if only Bing can do something to let people know it exists....

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