Bing adds social search to gain traction from Google

Microsoft‘s search engine Bing announced a page re-design that incorporates search results from social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ among others. This re-design is a response to Google’s Search plus Your World update in January, which added  Google+ pages to search results. This update was criticised by many and seen as a move by Google to give prominence to its own network, and leave out the others, as Google+ is still lagging behind other social networks in terms of engagement.

Bing’s re-design adds a Sidebar where users see results from various social networking websites that contain the term that is being searched for. In addition, it also includes a feature to ask questions of their friends or people who are knowledgeable on the subject,  which it suggests, based on what those people have liked, tweeted or blogged about.

Bing scores over Google, not only because it leverages Microsoft’s partnerships with Facebook and Twitter to curate a wider variety of social search results for the users, but also because it doesn’t clutter up the main search pane with these results, and instead aggregates them in a separate sidebar to the right of the main pane. It now remains to be seen whether these updates can entice users away from Google, which is the undisputed leader in search engines.

More good news from Bing came in the form of the Experian Hitwise report that in April 2012, Bing powered over 30% of all U.S. internet searches. Both Bing and Yahoo search, which is also powered by Bing, showed an increase of 16% and 7% respectively from the previous year, while Google showed a 5% drop in internet search share from April 2011.

A report from comScore presents slightly different numbers. According to this, Yahoo’s share has dropped, while Google has held steady, but Bing’s total share is still up. ComScore reports a total share of 28.9% of all internet searches, as opposed to 30.01% as reported by Experian Hitwise.

All in all, there are high stakes involved for both, and Google would be wise to keep a sharp eye on Bing.