Unlike Slate’s Farhad Manjoo, I don’t think I could give up using Google search for a week. I just couldn’t do it. I rely on it for everything — even misspelled words. But Manjoo embarked on a week-long journey he said was less than spectacular.
Manjoo wrote, “Yes, Google and Bing are functionally identical. But Bing will need a lot more than parity with the most-popular search engine in the land if it wants people to switch en masse.”It seems that he chose the wrong week to trade Google for Bing. On Thursday, May 10 (one day after Manjoo’s story published), Bing announced a relaunch of its search engine. This relaunch addressed perhaps the most important aspect of search not mentioned in Manjoo’s article: social search.
We all know that social search is becoming more important than ever. Google+ thrust it upon us with Search, Plus Your World and Bing did its part by integrating Facebook posts into SERPs. But Bing is taking it to the next level with its social sidebar.
Instead of cluttering up SERPs with personal results (kind of like what Google does with Google+ posts), Bing puts all of its social integration in one place. The sidebar includes four primary features: Ask Friends, Friends Who Might Know, People Who Know and Activity Feed. All of these give Bing a slight edge on Google with respect to social search. But of these four functions, People Who Know is the most interesting.
People Who Know does everything Google should do, but doesn’t. Unlike Friends Who Might Know, which determines if any of your Facebook friends know anything about your query, People Who Know will give you social results that aren’t just Facebook-specific. For instance, when Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan searched “Google” in Bing, Matt Cutts’ Twitter account was a social search result. But it doesn’t stop there: Bing will also suggest profiles “from LinkedIn, Quora, Foursquare, Blogger and — wait for it — Google+.”
You read that right, Bing will be suggesting Google+ users in its social results. And as ReadWriteWeb’s Jon Mitchell points out, this makes Google look anti-social. Mitchell writes, “The new Bing works in exactly the right way. It disentangles the many kinds of information we get from search instead of mashing them all together. There’s no awkward toggle switch between “social” and “global,” even though Google’s idea of “global” is still personalized. Bing has one set of Web links, one set of related results, and social info lives in the sidebar.”
He couldn’t have said it better. Bing is doing what Google wants to do. And yes, Bing does have a slight advantage over Google because it not only has a deal with Facebook, but also Twitter. Google only has, well, Google+. If Google doesn’t want Bing to catch up, it’s going to step it up and get a little friendlier.