Social Search: Bing ‘V’ Google

18th Feb, 2011

The turf war between both internet search engines heated up this week as the two companies released the latest updates of two of their search products. The Bing Bar version 7 and an update of Google Social Search aim to integrate the search engines more deeply with social media activities. The amount of time we spend on social media is only increasing, so further integration is not only important, but imperative for search providers to remain relevant.

Bing Bar 7

The Bing Bar is a new version of their lightweight toolbar that works on IE7 and above, but not on Firefox, Chrome, Safari or others. Users can access elements of Bing search right from the bar, such as weather, consolidated search history and suggestions, while email and Facebook accounts can be linked to the bar, so any new messages or notifications can be accessed right from the toolbar. Once a Facebook notification is clicked the user can also view recent photo’s in a collage and access their newsfeed, to post, comment or like updates. This is a slightly new direction for Bing as they try to bring Facebook information outside of the social network and have it follow the user on their journey around the web. With the bar limited to Internet Explorer, and users probably more comfortable on Facebook than other websites, this probably won’t gain much traction amongst those who don’t already use the Bing Bar.

Google Social Search

Google released their first version of social search in 2009, and have made a few updates since. This latest update takes in results from other social networks such as Quora, Youtube, Flickr and blogs of your connections. Whereas before the results were separated at the bottom of the page now social search will mix results based on how relevant they are. The social results can be identified by annotations displaying information on what one of your connections posted or shared that content.

This is an interesting move by Google. They don’t have access to Facebook data, only Bing has this, so it’s not a real social search. However with this iteration, plus new additions to existing services such as checking in on Google Latitude you can’t help but feel Google is doing it’s utmost to be more social. While Facebook data is outside of its reach, Google can leverage the rest of the world wide web against anything Facebook creates. What’s missing is a thread that links it all together in one cohesive and comprehensive way. Where as Facebook took a top down approach, expanding on its core service so it now features in different part of our lives, Google has taken a bottom up approach and now must link all the different elements together. Perhaps in 2001 the company felt the name Google was enough to link all these different services together, but in 2011 that is certainly not the case. This common link may not be too far away, as Google have stated in the past their own social network ‘Google Me’ would launch in the spring of this year.

For now here’s a video explaining Google Social Search.