Lately, I’m noticing that Bing results are increasingly more relevant than post-Panda Google. Far too many keyword-stuffed domains with a few useless pages are appearing in places that rich content sites used to show up in the Google results. That hasn’t done anything to shift my search behavior to Bing, because Google still drives more traffic than anyone, so I need to understand how to navigate Google in a useful way. But I am paying more attention to what Bing is doing than I ever did in the past.
Bing added a feature with the potential to one-up Google Plus One, integrating Facebook “Like” data from your friends and family into search results. As the Bing blog astutely points out, we tend to trust the opinions of friends and family more than a random person, so knowing which results are liked by our friends can be a great way to make an educated decision in knowing when to click.
The reason this Bing feature is better than Google Plus One is the sheer amount of data available. People in your social circle have been liking websites and web pages for quite awhile, so there’s a rich set of Like data to draw from. Google Plus One is starting from scratch. You need to read the instructions to Plus One your favorite sites in Google search results. Even worse, you have to perform a search, pick a result, assess the quality of your choice, go back to the Google results, and finally click the Gooogle Plus One button. Google intends to offer a clickable +1 button for sites down the road, but until they do, no one will click.
In contrast, adding Facebook Like data to Bing is a perfect premise, at least in theory. Like buttons are everywhere and you can instantly like something if you are signed in to Facebook. Perform a Bing search while signed in to Facebook and you’ll see results with your friends who liked the result, just like the example below.
Except in the example, the person didn’t actually like the result. The like is associated with the domain where the result is located. So because your friend clicked a like button for the site as a whole, you get the impression that they endorsed everything about the site. That’s a flawed way to assign an endorsement. Every site has some mediocre content. Every site has gaps in information. If you click that link thinking your friend thought the page was great, only to discover a dud on the other end, it may alter your perception of your friend’s ability to pick good information.
Here’s another example of a flawed endorsement from friends. My site, JakeLudington.com ranks #2 when you search for ‘garageband for windows’ in Bing. I happen to think I provide some decent information about that topic, but I think the endorsement from my friends appearing below the result is highly flawed. In this example, it says the people Like my Facebook Fan Page, presumably because I’ve linked JakeLudington.com in the Facebook Insights, Bing has drawn the conclusion that these people endorse that search result. Again, this is a flawed association. While I have no doubt some of my friends might find my article useful, they didn’t actually like the article, which means I’m not getting data relevant to the result.
Don’t get me wrong, I see the potential for knowing what my friends and family Like in the context of my own search. Because I’ve been reasonably careful in only friending people I’ve actually met in person, I’m more likely to trust their opinions than the opinion of the average person on the street. But in order to trust the opinions of my friends, the opinions need to be assocaited correctly. I need to see my friends’ Like when it actually pertains directly to the specific search result I’m seeing. Otherwise, Facebook Like results in Bing are simply more clutter I have to filter out when trying to determine what’s legitimate, which will keep me sticking with Google for the longhaul.