Bing Uses Likes, Links to Drive Traffic

Stephen Yagielowicz

It’s been said many times before, but there is just no way around repeating it: the Internet is evolving in dramatic and profound ways and nowhere is this so evidenced today than in the worlds of search and social networking — the foundation for many user’s online experience.

One case in point is search upstart Bing, which is now relying on Facebook “Likes” to boost its traffic — and so can you.

Today, search remains largely driven by facts and links — we think it’s time to change that ..

In a recent Search Blog post entitled, “Facebook Friends Now Fueling Faster Decisions on Bing,” the company emphasized its mission to help users make faster decisions that are more informed. Focusing on great design, task completion, instant answers, and vertical categories, Bing has made great strides in the search arena. However, the company sees a huge opportunity for improvement via social networks.

“Today, search remains largely driven by facts and links — we think it’s time to change that,” Microsoft VP Yusuf Mehdi said. “Research tells us that 90 [percent] of people seek advice from family and friends as part of the decision making process. This ‘Friend Effect’ is apparent in most of our decisions and often outweighs other facts because people feel more confident, smarter and safer with the wisdom of their trusted circle.”

“Historically, search hasn’t incorporated this ‘Friend Effect’ — and 80 [percent] of people will delay making a decision until they can get a friend’s stamp of approval,” Mehdi added. “This decision delay, or period of time it takes to hunt down a friend for advice, can last anywhere from a few minutes to days, whether you’re waiting for a call back, text, email or tweet.”

Shrinking this time-consuming process into an instantaneous, decision-making result, Mehdi says Bing is bringing “the collective IQ of the web together with the opinions of the people you trust most, to bring the ‘Friend Effect’ to search.”

Bing does this by allowing users to sign in to Facebook, and then personalizes search results based on the opinions of the user’s friends, allowing decisions based on more than just facts, incorporating “the collective wisdom of the web.”

While some may devalue the concept, Bing’s research indicates that half of its users care about what their friends “liked” within the search results, using those “likes” to guide their decision-making.

Those decisions equate to clicks on listings — listings that are re-ordered in real-time.

“Now you won’t miss potentially interesting information that may have been buried deep within the search results,” Mehdi noted. “Bing will surface results, which may typically have been on page three or four, higher in its results based on stuff your friends have liked.”

Mehdi underscored this value by asking, “How often do you go beyond page one of the results?”

Easing and enabling the integration is the Bing Toolbar, which features a universal “Like” button, allowing users to add a virtual thumbs-up to any page on the Internet, while controlling the experience, so that users share only what they want to.

“Bing and Facebook are making a bet,” Mehdi concluded. “One that will marry the logic of search, with the recommendations and opinions of your social network and the masses — to extend search beyond just fact-based decision making, to decisions that are made with the power of people AND search.”

While there are challenges in porting this process to the adult realm, marketers need to consider their options and act accordingly, since consumers are shaping their perceptions through these new, advanced integrations. The writing is on the wall, however, so incorporating a “Like” button wherever possible (and practical) will only reap benefits to your traffic flow.