Microsoft today announced a deeper integration of Facebook’s ‘like’ data with its Bing search engine. This data now powers a number of new features that don’t just make Bing’s social search competitive but actually better and more useful than Google’s current efforts in the social search arena.

While Google is able to pull in data from Twitter and a number of other services (including its own recently launched +1 and public Facebook fan pages), Microsoft is the only major search engine with access to Facebook’s firehose. Thanks to this, Bing now shows you whenever a friend has ‘liked’ a site that appears on your search results page and pushes these results to the top of the page, too.

bing facebook integration

Collective IQ

In addition to these highly personalized results, Bing now also takes aggregate ‘like’ data into account while ranking search results. Thanks to this, Bing will now surface recipes on cooking sites that were ‘liked’ by a certain number of other Facebook users or which books on Amazon are currently popular.

Besides these major additions, Bing also launched a number of other features, including the ability to build a “travel wish list” that also shows you which of your friends live or have lived in a given city and the ability to receive notifications of flight deals when you ‘like’ a Bing flight search result.

Like vs. +1 and the Twitter Firehose

With the millions of ‘like’ buttons on the Web today, there can be little doubt that having access to this data firehose allows Bing to present more relevant data to mainstream users than Google currently can with its Twitter integration (there are, after all, far more users on Facebook than on Twitter). Google simply doesn’t have access to this data, which is likely one of the reasons why it started its +1 initiative. With +1, though, Google is far behind Facebook. Indeed, +1 is still just a labs product and the company will only launch +1 buttons for third-party sites in the next few weeks.