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Facebook, Bing and social signals for search relevance – Are they the new Google Killers?

October 15, 2010

The announcement that Face Book and Bing have agreed to integrate Face Book’s social signals into Bing’s search results has almost created a firestorm in the search community. As expected, you have your usual litany of yeas, and nays, but this time with quite a bit of analysis to go along with the commentary.

It seems as if the world is always asking who the next Google killer will be, or what technology will come along to knock Google off its perch at the top of the heap. As we all know, Face Book probably stands the best chance of actually making this happen. And I suspect Google knows this too. In fact, I bet they’re losing sleep at night because of it.

Why do I say this? It speaks to the future of the Internet itself. Back in 2001, a specification was written for the Resource Description Framework (RDF), or what is known as the semantic web. This was to change everything on the net in so far as if implemented, the actual servers on the web would be able to speak to each other and pass much more relevant information between themselves when a query was presented to them. I won’t go into the details but suffice to say that through the use of a subject, a predicate, and an object (Called “Triples”) very precise, dead relevant, accurate information could be found and presented on almost any topic. This was to be library science and information retrieval at its best.

The problem is not many (read almost none) coders and programmers wanted to change to adopt this code. Google has tried over the years to slowly push people into this (micro formats, results extensions, etc.) but resistance has been high. In comes Facebook and they’ve built their entire system based on this. Facebook’s platform is the closest thing on the Internet to an actual implementation of the social graph. Google knows this as also knows that the potential for a Bing/Facebook combination, due to Facebook’s platform, may make Bing’s results more relevant that Google’s. And in the search wars, relevancy wins over customers.

So crowd-sourcing search relevancy may be a new and improved thing, but we will all see shortly just how much more relevant (if at all) this makes Bing’s results. I’m not 100% confident that what my friend(s) likes has anything to do with my search for black dashikis from Madagascar. I suggest placing two browsers side-by-side and performing the same search in both Bing and Google. When you do, feel free to come back and share with us your comments on your results.