The Social Engine

The latest Bing-Facebook announcement by which your search results on Bing will take into account your Facebook friends’ likes and related favourite pages, and display socially-tailored results could be the light that will finally shine on Bing. The future of SEO is social, mobile, local and semantic. The integration of Facebook within Bing results could make a reality of the first three.

Google somehow missed the boat by poorly integrating Twitter into its search results. They are kept at the bottom of the results page and only available to Gmail users. Once again Google have been egocentric in their social search offering. Their integration of Twitter is more a display of technological prowess than social vision in the field of search.

It is not in Google’s interest to integrate search. Their business model is based on one-click-and-you’re-out – Google wants you to use the site as often as possible and as quickly as possible. With this in mind, Google also needs to make as much money from you as possible, which is exactly what happened with Google Instant, making Adword results prevail more than natural results.

Bing’s move to integrate Facebook and enable users to sign in by using their Facebook account is a bold and very smart one. Bing has always been about usability, as shown by their search applications for hotels and flights, for example. This move marks a natural evolution of search and a full integration of everyone’s social network – half a billion of us so far, and still growing.

What’s in it for Facebook?

Only 4% of worldwide searches are performed using Bing, and quite frankly, Facebook doesn’t need Bing to pursue its growth or cement its position as the world’s prevailing social network. Facebook doesn’t need Bing, full stop, so what’s really behind this partnership? It can’t just be for users or as favour from Mark Zuckerberg to Bing. This is big business after all, not philanthropy.

My take is that the next logical step to this partnership will be the integration of search within Facebook, proudly brought to you by Bing. This win-win situation would keep Facebook users on the site and would boost Bing’s popularity and ad revenue share. Once on Facebook you would be able to perform a search with social, sponsored and natural results displayed within Facebook.

More than a social network, Facebook could then become the world’s first and largest Social Engine.

What does it mean for SEOs?

Pure SEO will not survive unless it integrates comprehensive social media strategies and SEO agencies will have to become integrated Digital Media Agencies. A domain currently left to techies, SEO will pursue its natural move towards being an integral part of Digital Marketing, a sphere in which it’s always belonged but so far hasn’t been given a real place.

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