Are Social Signals the New PageRank?

Bing to use Facebook Data in Search

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Microsoft  partners with Facebook to bring social relevance to its Bing search engine. This is a huge announcement  with deep implications for the future of search and whether Bing can make gains on Google. Microsoft is leveraging it’s ownership stake in Facebook to strike an exclusive relationship that can’t be matched by Google. In essence, Bing is betting that social signals are better than link signals in determining search relevance. 

Are social signals more relevant than links? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg himself made this announcement of a social search partnership with Bing. Zuckerberg stated, "What makes this a great partnership is that in this case Microsoft is the underdog in search. In fact, I couldn’t think of anyone better to be working with to build the next generation of search!"

One of the first products of the Bing / Facebook partnership is that via a Bing iFrame, Bing search results are native inside of Facebook searches. Now, Facebook data will be integrated into Bing and influence search results based on signals from the searchers social connections. This product, called Bing Social brings Facebook posts and links that relate to the topic searched right into search results.

How does Bing bring the social context of Facebook into search relevance? Starting today, Bing is integrating data from your friends and social network into search results. This could include information on "likes", reviews, photos and links from your friends into your search experience. According to Bing, search results will be really personal to the user, different than what others will see for the same search. This "instant personalization" will make a search by you relevant to you alone and not necessarily that relevant to someone else.

Obviously, the impact on SEO will be enormous. Search optimization currently relies extensively on relevant links from authority sites. If links and ‘likes’ from your personal social network become more important than links from websites then SEM’s will need to rethink their SEO strategy. 

With the Facebook module your search results will now include information on what your friends liked or commented regarding the restaurant or movie or other item you searched for. Your Bing search results will actually be different depending on what your network of friends link to, like or dislike.

Another big implication is with a non-celebrity people search. Search engines don’t do this well today, often giving non-relevant results for common names. What Bing is going to do is use signals provided by Facebook such as location, friends, jobs and their interests to better determine what person you may actually be searching for. Bing is opening up features that will let you additionally add and confirm data back to Facebook as well. Bing also has plans to bring in the faces from Facebook of those who liked and disliked links that show up in your search results. 

Social search may reignite the search wars. After all, Google rose up to conquer other search power houses like Alta Vista because PageRank made search results more relevant. If social search makes search results even better, then history has shown that the most relevant search algorithm will ultimately win consumers over!

Are Social Signals the New PageRank?
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  • Bob

    That’s all great but I just want to search like in 1998. I just want search results to be matched perfectly to my query. I could care less about what my friends bought or what they thought about the product I’m looking for. My friends are morons, people are morons. That only dilutes the search results to make them worse! I am my own self and have my own brain… why can’t they leave search alone…

    • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

      I liked this reply, best I’ve seen yet that’s real!

      Social Media is more like the pulse of a website.. is your website breathing?

    • http://ukrbiz.info viktor


    • http://www.SolicitorsInBournemouth.com Boyd

      I agree that social search would be a nightmare. It would just be spamming all
      your “friends” and celebrities would be paid to endorse products via
      Twitter etc to all their followers. So Social search would be spamdorsement.

      I can see a Classic Coke situation developing here.

      Someone will come out with 1998 stripped down search engine that gives you good
      content results based on your input query. They may even make it free of advertising
      and just charge $5 a year for the use of it. I’d pay it for a non-manipulated, ad free, straightforward search engine.



    • http://www.lifetimememoriesandstories.com Greg

      I couldn’t agree more Bob. just because you are “friends” on facebook does not mean that their “likes” have any relevancy to me. I can see a relevancy equation for the “coffee club” mentality but my own searches are so diverse and wide ranging I just don’t want others influencing what I want to look at.

      I see this as a dumbing down of humanity just like TV and newspapers.

      This is a bad move but probably will be a strong one for their adfvertising. It restricts information flow and knowledge even more.

  • http://cozumelmexico.net Bob Rodriguez

    When you are socializing/chating with your friends, or talkigng on the VOIP phone are you more likely to click on an ad?

    When you are searching for something in particular, do you look for it on FB?

    I personally do not see social networking replacing PageRank.

    The internet is one big cloud of information.

    In a few years how crowded do you think the social networking cloud will be? Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, my space, bebo, Friendster, hi5, etc………… you get the idea.

    That is strictly my opinion. Of course I didn’t buy a pair of Croc’s either!

  • http://www.chronic-inflammation.com Guest

    It will be interesting/intriguing to watch this over the coming months.

  • http://www.ThoroughbredDiesel.com Eric Schumann

    When I setup Facebook for our business I did not set it up as a business, we have around 700 friends now, Facebook says I can not convert this into a business, I have to delete it and start another, should I for SEO purposes?

    • Frank

      Why don’t you just add business pages or setup a new account under your business.

  • http://www.webdesignerillinois.com Illinois Web Design

    I knew that Bing would prolly try to do something like this. If they can make it work, they will definitely give Google a run for it’s money, but I must agree with Boyd. A socially influenced search algorithm would prolly be swamped with spam.

    • Frank

      Not directed at Illinois Web Design, but isn’t Facebook already full of spam?

  • Bill in NY

    Facebook will regret this partnership with Bing. It’s going to flood Facebook with “bots” and spam!

  • Joons

    I just don’t get this – Suckerberg is trying anyway he can to try make FB pertinent for business – it’s not business friendly and Bing will rue the day they made this partnership.
    Watch for pure junk to make the search results totally irrelevant
    I’m with Bob let’s just get back to getting results that are relevant to what I asked for – get rid of the eye candy and personalization c&%p based on what the dumbed down “average” person looks for.

  • http://www.revenuecurve.com Robin Zygelman

    This could be very big for advertising in the future.plus who doesn’t like to see the underdog win!!!

    • Frank

      Is this contradictory? No giant is an underdog

    • Larry

      I agree, sounds pretty ridiculous to call Microsoft & Facebook “underdogs”.

      Also, I am so sick of hearing about FB & Twitter. No one has shown definitive data that quantifies the ROI of all of the endless hours people are spending on them. If someone wants to spend their time using them for strictly social purposes that’s fine, but from a business standpoint I don’t see using social media being a viable marketing tool.

      And as for the FB integration into Bing – yet another reason I won’t be using Bing & Google will continue to have 75% search market share & the rest will fight over the scraps.

  • http://www.iamplace.com David

    No doubt this is another sign that Search and Social are coming together to potentially create influences on web users. I don’t think we have seen exactly what impact social data is going to have, but there is no doubt in my mind – it is going to be pretty powerful.

    • Frank

      potentially create influences? This is for Control, plain and simple. I wish everyone would understand the corporate mentality, we would be so much better off. Greed, Control, Have most forgotten the banks, home mortgages, etc… Already.

  • Dan

    Let me ask a question I have been wondering about. Is a Facebook account worth having if you use the web to see anything? I was thinking of deleting my Facebook account due to an addiction to the platform (always logging on etc.)….now I see this latest Bong news. Should I still delete my account? Will it really matter? Or?

  • http://www.waschmaschinen-reparatur-berlin.com Waschmaschinen Kundendienst

    i think this is a small chance to be so big as Google

    • Frank

      Bing is now the search engine i use most, not because its any better, just because i hate Google so much

  • http://www.1stclassite.com Jonecir

    Internet users are looking for good and relevant content, that’s all!

    • Frank

      Good and relevant content are two different things, since most of the web is filled with crap, but it is relevant content.

  • http://www.armanihair.com Stpetehairsalon

    Everyone loves seeing the underdog come up fighting.

  • http://moderndaypeasants.com Dan Waggoner

    It definitely shows the scope and reach of the Internet. Make no mistake… this is certainly about power and control as Frank says but it also demonstrates the current and future importance of local search for an SEO. It seems in the long run, though, it will still be more beneficial for the person searching. I’m not sure we can ask much more.

  • http://www.ryanpham.com Ryan

    Good concept and social media will play a part in the overall search ranking process. However I feel it

  • http://bestseowebdesign.com Todd Donald

    As far as I can tell, Bing is Bing… Hardly anyone uses it to search, despite the all the TV commercials and various hype. The Facebook Bing Combo is unlikely to matter much because the majority of Internet users search using Google… Maybe Yahoo if for some reason its the default in their browser and they don’t know how to change it. I cannot imagine many people who are using Facebook would think to use the Facebook search engine for anything other than what they’ve been using it for, (finding people they may know).

    Microsoft is… Well… Microsoft. Aside from personal computing they never seem to be able to get a handle on what the general public likes or wants. Now its Bing, a year or more ago it was called Live and what was it before? I think MSN? Yeah… Nobody gets it or cares. Simple technology rules. For example… Google, or Craigslist. Form follows function. They just do what they are supposed to do, quickly, efficiently and accurately so the vast majority of people use their sites.

  • http://www.twomanproductions.com/musicpromotiontips Carlton Richard

    I notice yesterday when checked my ranking for a keyword,at the bottom of my search results was googles result for people in my social circle that had search this keyword! They also already have search suggestions. So this would mean Bing and Facebook would need something more than
    a social network search engine. Maybe a bookmarking search engine based on keywords is the answer for them. Image Stumble Upon, Facebook and Bing, a relative search engine that pulls up
    popular book marks and connects you with friends based on the websites you visit! I would be pretty dam excited about that!

  • Gavski

    Here we go again – we all know the future is evolving as far as personalised / social search goes, but there is a presumption that we all actually want it. I know what I like, I know what my friends like but I don’t necessarily want to be fed results based upon what I already know. Good relevant results to my search query is what I’m after, without constantly being pushed down the social / personlised path .

    Depending upon how this goes, if I were using Bing, I’d be using it with the option to combine results from Facebook firmly switched off. Shock horror, I’m very rarely on FB, have little idea what my friends are up to on it, so it would be interesting to see the assumptions made about my life and choices that would be served up to me! I’m often wrestling as to whether to delete my FB account – this could be a good motivator to do so 😉

  • http://www.trustedtrades.co.za Johan

    I think this is the worst move that can be made.. While google focus on giving us the most relevant answer to our question. Facebook and microsoft are trying to give us answers based on our friends, hahaha. Does this make sense to anyone ? Meanwhile we loose even more rights to the data we post on facebook as it gets displayed on bing. I must say microsoft has been great at making the most unstable and irrelevant software but this takes the cake. Just shows me where they are heading. Google seems to be the only company that logically approach new technology’s. As far as PR vs Social Signals go, I think PR is not always the best but it kicks the sh.. out of “Social Signals”

  • http://www.yeebaa.com Yeebaa Discounts

    It’s interesting but is it useful? My mates wouldn’t have a clue as to some of the things I search for, well.., maybe one or two of them. Facebook is essentially a way to keep in touch, I live in Spain and use it to talk to my frineds and family. Not to play games like they all seem to. It would be irrelevant to me what they search for as are my searches to them.

  • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

    I smell WebProNews on the Zuckerberg Microsoft payroll…

    This is an opinion poll… It’s not even News…

    • Rich Ord

      Unfortunately, no.

      Rich Ord
      CEO, iEntry, Inc.
      Publisher of WebProNews

      • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

        It was a bit of a troll comment. My apologizes.

  • http://www.maps4pets.com/default.asp maps4pets

    I think this has huge significance for the future as well. It makes perfect sense and will refine search results to the benefit of all. About time. Have retweeted this to our army of follows on Twitter. Thank you for another informative article.

  • http://medicalresearch.blogspot.com Mohd Tariq Salman

    I am keen to search on Bing and see the facebook links. Hope it will yield interesting results.

  • http://secured-and-unsecured-loans.com Karrin

    I don’t know about you,but I’m not using bing anyway. I think it’s a stupid idea and all they are trying to do is manipulate us in order to get more people on facebook, being curios how their search will look like. It is not something to last or to influence the future of searching…

  • http://www.blindmonkeymedia.com Marketing Guru

    When the transition is over, I wonder how that will affect PPC advertising on Facebook and Bing. Bing and Yahoo PPC is almost integrated together and so far its a smooth transition. I hope it will be the same with Facebook.

    LOL, I know what you mean about friends Bob, what happens when you have friends that are into weird porn, does that mean that my searches will come up with porn sites now?

  • Analytical

    I do not understand this preoccupation with other peoples opinions, interests, or poodles. The whole Facebook social thing reminds me of the early AOL walled garden. Frivolous nonsense! I agree with the first commenter, I just want to be able to type in a search term and locate the most relevant results. The whole social thing demands that we permit people we’ve never met, people with whom we have perhaps a single area of interest in common, to be designated as a “friend”. If I need to research a constitutional issue and one of my “friends” is intellectually challenged, must I endure pages of Sarah Palen, or Glenn Beck quotes? I’d shoot my f**king computer!

  • The Searcher

    If it’s called a search engine then my results should only be relevant to what I am searching for…not what the current trend, fad or most recent purchase was amongst my friends. In that case a completely separate search engine should be created…A
    ‘Social Search’ engine….which may be better for trendspotting and not fact finding.

    The old search results were actually perfect…now they are clogging the results with News, Twitter Posts and the sort. Who actually cares about that when I’m searching for the “best seo plugin for wordpress“. Just give me some relevant review and recommendation sites and product sites. If I want to know what my friends think on Twitter and Facebook I’ll ask them through my private social channels.

  • http://briarpatchgiftshop.com Joe

    I turn all this kind of stuff off anyway when i search. When i am looking for car parts i am looking for parts for my car not my friends cars.

  • http://www.gordonchoi.com Gordon Choi

    For users who are used to Google’s way of search, Bing’s and Facebook’s social search is giving a second search option to users.

  • http://www.siskiyouwebdesign.com Siskiyou Web Design

    Refining the search algorithm for opinion or use is not a bad idea. Social Media influence will not be the only factor, just one of many in attempt to return the best results. Bravo Bing!

  • http://sasmos.sk vodovody a kanalizacie

    PageRank is not only one factor. Much better effect will emerge by optimalization of keywords and body of the page

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