When Microsoft unveiled the new Bing format yesterday, it became clear that the company is banking heavily on social search. The entire right column of Bing's new three-column search results formant will be given up to social results. The column will feature results from both searcher's social media connections and search-term-related "experts" on social media sites. Now, a new Microsoft patent found by SEO by the Sea is showing exactly how Microsoft intends to decide who an "expert" is.
The patent ranks social media authors along various dimensions using "a variety of statistical methods." The abstract states that the methods will use usage metrics, social graphs, and topical graphs. The various dimensions by which authors are measured are outlined in a basic way:
- Authors who link to content that becomes popular, and do so early on, will be considered more authoritative. The first person to post a link to a big story will receive a large "expertise" score, and subsequent linkers will receive exponentially less "expertise." All authors are then ranked by expertise score.
- Authors who post a lot of content based around a certain topic will be considered more authoritative for searches related to that topic. Microsoft's method here is to associate keywords in social media posts with a certain topics, which are then associated with a search engine query.
- Popular and influential members of social networks will also be ranked highly for authority. This is simply a factor of how many subscribers or followers an author has, or how many people link back to an author. Consider this the crowdsource factor in the rankings.
I, like most internet users, have been a huge fan of Google search for around a decade now. I have to admit, though, that these ideas and the new Bing design look very promising. Will the rollout of the new Bing finally bring about some real search engine competition? Will Microsoft's close relationship with Facebook put them ahead of Google when it comes to social search? 2012 is shaping up to be an interesting year for the search engine market, and that means an interesting year for those sites trying to keep up with SEO.
What do you think? Has Bing, with its new design and improved social search, finally positioned itself on par with Google? Are you worried that your website might be caught in the crossfire, or lost in the crowded, noisey realm of social SEO? Leave a comment below and let us know.
(via SEO by the Sea)