Facebook rocked the search world with its Graph Search feature, which helps users find relevant content based on past social interactions, friends’ interests and location. This marks Facebook’s first significant step into search, which doesn’t surprise many experts, but several questions remain unanswered after the dust cleared. For example, with Microsoft an investor in Facebook, and Bing the source behind Facebook’s web search function, many industry insiders wondered if Bing algorithms power Facebook’s Graph Search.
In a recent blog post on the Bing Community site, Corporate Vice President of Search at Bing Derrick Connell explained that Bing’s and Facebook’s “engineering teams worked together to advance a unified search experience,” which means that people searching beyond Facebook see results powered by Bing with social context from Facebook. However, Mary Jo Foley, ZDNET contributor, wanted to know what role Bing played in Graph Search exactly, and it took her three tries to get a response. The note read:
“Confirmed that Bing only powers the web search functionality on Facebook. We do not power Facebook’s graph search.”
Bing may not fuel results for Facebook’s Graph Search feature, but the search engine recently took strides toward making its user experience increasingly social. In a recent blog post, The Bing Team announced that five times more Facebook content will appear in the engine’s sidebar. Updates include statuses, shared links, comments and photos from friends. More, this upgrade makes it easier for searchers to see which of their friends may have insight into what they’re searching for online.
The Big blog post also highlights some updated features – with the addition of the new photo experience, web searchers will discover photos posted by their friends in the sidebar when images relate to queries. For example, a search about New York City might highlight an image on Facebook of a friend standing in Times Square. Bing’s sidebar still pulls information from Twitter, Quora, Foursquare and Klout.
Bing’s improving sidebar feature puts more power in content marketers’ hands. Businesses can produce a wide array of content for social platforms like Facebook and Twitter and video content, written media and the most popular relevant social content will appear side-by-side with Bing SERPs. While Bing’s interface has yet to prove more effective than Google’s simple design, it certainly re-imagines search overall, which makes for interesting SEO news.