Only a few hours after Microsoft announced deals with Twitter and Facebook to integrate real time data into Bing’s search results, Google’s Marissa Mayer announces at the Web 2.0 Summit that Google Social Search will be launching in the coming weeks.
There has been so much said about this in the last 24 hours, and it is hard to keep up with all the blogs, news and article mentions. Let me try and summarize quickly…
Yesterday Microsoft announced sealed agreements to access real-time content from social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to boost search engine results in Bing. According to Microsoft executives at a presentation at a San Francisco Internet conference, Bing is hoping to take on current dominant search leader Google in the sphere of Social Search and will have access to Twitter’s entire store of public data in real time as well as content from social networking site Facebook. At the same conference, it was also announced that a standalone Twitter search service will be offered at Bing, with some ranking technology other than sort by date involved, and that shortened URLs will be expanded. And finally, there would be some integration within the regular Bing service itself.
Only a few hours later, Google’s Marissa Mayer announced Google Social Search will be launching in the coming weeks. This feature will allow you to see results for queries from people in your social network and will work only via your own Google Profile. In your profile, if you add add links to social networks you’re a member of, such as FriendFeed or Twitter, Google will scan who you are connected to and give your results from those people which will then be integrated in to regular results. Google emphasised their goal of creating the most comprehensive, relevant and fast search and believe that their search results and user experience will greatly benefit from the inclusion of this up-to-the-minute data, looking forward to having a product showcasing how tweets can make search better in the coming months.
There has been such talk for some time and even though Bing (MSFT) beat Google to it by first announcing the integration of real-time data into search results, it is clear that this move from both indicate what the future of Search holds for us. Social Integration. Real-time data in Search results! This indicates the importance of consumer perception and the value of comments made by the average consumer and the trust they have regarding brands and products.
This is somewhat confirmed by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg saying that The Future is Social, Not Search. While Google is by far Facebook’s biggest rival in terms of Paid Advertising, it was clear that no love is lost between Google and Sheryl Sandberg, an ex-Googler. Sandberg said that Facebook is leading the net from the information age to the social age, where people will be finding their important answers not through Google but through their friends. As for search, Sandberg said Google would still have a place in the future, even if it’s not very big.
The face of search is indeed going to change and the race to be there first is definately on. The next days, weeks and months will be very interesting.
How will consumer behaviour affect search and the ranking relevance of brands and products in the SERP’s?
My personal prediction is that this affect won’t be seen immediately, but that it will slowly take affect as both Search Engines integrate real time data over the coming months.
For me, the future of Search will neither be Search, nor Social. The future of Search will be “Social Search” – Integrated Real-Time Search, (hopefully) relevant, updated results, as it happens.
How Bing and Google will control what is included in the search results will be interesting to see, but this can only be a good thing for companies doing Online Reputation Management. Hopefully businesses and corporates will be forced to operate in the social spaces more to not only control the conversations, but also add to it, or respond.