SiliconFilter

Linked Pages: Bing Now Lets You Curate and Highlight Links that Are About You

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Google may have Google+, but Bing has a close relationship to an ever bigger and more important social network: Facebook. While Google now highlights your Google+ profile when people search for you, Bing has been showing Facebook profiles in its search results for quite a while now. With its new “linked pages” tool, however, Bing is now taking this concept a bit further. Bing now also lets you choose which of your social networking profiles and websites will be featured in a special box at the top of its search results pages when people search for your name. According to Bing, appropriate sites would also include your city, school or employer, for example. This feature is only available in the U.S. so far.

Given that Google has been widely criticized for putting too much emphasis on links to its own social network, it is worth noting that Bing uses your Facebook profile as its main result and then highlights the other pages you curate underneath that. Your Google+ profile, of course, can be one of these links, too.

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Link to Me

Thanks to its close relationship with Facebook, it’s no surprise that Bing uses the social network as the basis for this tool. You use it to log in to Bing to customize your links, for example, and you can also post newly linked sites to your Facebook profile as well. To prevent you from spamming your friends with new links, only the first link of the day will be posted in your Facebook timeline.

The Bing team has decided to go one step further, though, and also allows others to make suggestions for sites you could be connected to. This linking isn’t automatic, though, and Bing will always ask you for permission first.

You can, of course, always remove a link as well.

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Getting Started

Here is how all of this works in practice:

You first log in to Bing’s Linked Pages tool (using your Facebook credentials). Then, Bing will display all the pages it found about you and then lets you choose which of those links are really about you (and not about somebody you share a name with).

Similarly, you can search for your friends (assuming you are also their friend on Facebook) and then suggest sites that are linked to them.

Video

You can see the feature in action below (narrated by an oddly infomercial-sounding Stefan Weitz):

<a data-cke-saved-href="http://video.msn.com/?vid=649129a0-2e8a-40c8-87cc-4c3b003a7dbf&mkt=en-us&src=SLPl:embed::uuids" href="http://video.msn.com/?vid=649129a0-2e8a-40c8-87cc-4c3b003a7dbf&mkt=en-us&src=SLPl:embed::uuids" target="_new" title="Make a Good Search Impression with Bing’s Linked Pages">Video: Make a Good Search Impression with Bing’s Linked Pages</a>



10:15 am


Looking for an Alternative to Google’s Personalized Results? Try Wajam

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Google's integration of Google+ results hasn't exactly received the thunderous applause Google probably expected. Chances are, however, it's here to stay, though that doesn't mean some enterprising developers aren't trying to come up with alternatives. With the "don't be evil" tool, even Google's own competitors have now launched a bookmarklet that brings social results from Twitter and Facebook back out of hiding on Google's search results pages. That's not a real alternative to a full-blown social search application though, as it still only relies on Google's own results. For that, I've been using Wajam for the last few month and now seems like a good time to take another look at the tool given that it presents one of the few viable alternatives to Google's own approach.

What's nice about Wajam is that it can present you with search results from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – including private results if you give it the clearance to do so. Indeed, Wajam had integrated Google+ results long before Google even offered its own search feature for its social network.

Once installed, the Wajam extension integrates the company's own search results on the Google search results page and also takes over part of the sidebar to present you with videos, photos and recommendations from your friends from sites like Yelp and Amazon. You can also tweak which social networks you want to be included in your search.

The Wajam team, of course, couldn't stand still and just let the whole Google+ controversy pass it by, so they created the following video that shows you how it works and how it compares to the "don't be evil" tool:

Related posts:

Our original review of Wajam from 2011.

Does “Search Plus Your World” Actually Improve Your Search Results? Nope



1:20 pm


Wajam Wants to Make Your Social Search More Social

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Social search is, without doubt, one of the hottest topics in the search engine business today. Google and Microsoft have made it the central focus of their latest search engine features and numerous small players are also trying to get a foothold in this nascent business. Among these smaller players is Wajam, a Canadian startup that lets you easily add social search results to virtually all of the majorsearch engines and shopping sites you use today, including Google, Bing, Amazon, Tripadvisor, Wikipedia, and Yelp.

The idea behind social search has always been intriguing, as there is, after all, a good chance that the links your friends share online are more relevant to you than other links. To make this really work, though, a social search engine needs to be able to easily tap into all your social networks, not just either Twitter or Facebook. That’s where Wajam shines. It lets you connect to all your favorite social networks and then indexes all the links (and the content of the pages these links point to) that your friends have shared. Then, when you search, it transparently pins these results at the top of your regular search results on your favorite search engine.

Among the nifty features here are the ability to also add your Google+ account and search through it – something that Google still doesn’t let its users do. You can also filter results so you just see photos or just the links a specific person has shared. Earlier this month, Wajam also added a location feature, which lets you easily see who of your friends live in a given city and what places your friends have liked there.

Earlier this week, I talked to the company’s founder and CEO Martin-Luc Archambault. According to Archambault, his team mostly consists of engineers, as the company runs its own servers and has to not just pull in a very large amount of data (my friends, for example, have shared more than 3.5 million links) but also rank it. The ranking, indeed, could still use some tweaking, but in general, the search results are relevant, though the best ones are often under the fold (by default, Wajam only shows one result).

Overall, though, Wajam has turned out to be quite a useful addition to my search arsenal, especially because it pulls in data from such a wide variety of sources.

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4:12 pm


Google Finally Takes Social Search Global, +1 Up Next

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Ever since its launch in late 2009, Google’s Social Search feature was only available in the United States. Over the course of the next week, however, Google will finally roll this feature out globally. Social Search shows you what your friends and contacts shared on public networks like Twitter, Flickr, Google Buzz and Google Reader and displays this information on relevant search results pages. In addition to bringing Social Search to the rest of the world outside of the U.S., Google also announced that it aims to roll out its experimental +1 feature globally as soon as it can.

Google announcement comes just a few days after Microsoft’s Bing announced its improved Facebook-based social search experience that is mostly based on data Facebook’s and Bing’s users share through the ubiquitous ‘like’ button. Given the failure of Google Buzz, Google’s closest competitor to Facebook’s ‘like’ is +1, but until Google rolls out the actual +1 buttons, it will be hard to say if the Mountain View-based search giant can actually compete with Facebook in this market. Until then, Microsoft has the upper hand when it comes to social search as Google – unlike Bing – does not have access to privately shared Facebook ‘like’ data.

To see a full list of your Google connections, click here. If you’re not familiar with how Google Social Search works, here is a video that explains its functionality in more detail:



8:34 am


Social Search: Deeper Facebook Integration Pushes Microsoft Past Google

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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.

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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.



2:44 pm


Why Google’s +1 Can’t Compete With Facebook’s Like

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Google just launched it’s +1 button this morning. This new feature allows Google’s users to like sites and ads right on the search results page and which will soon also come to a site near you in the form of a Facebook-like “-1” button. Quite a few pundits are already proclaiming this as a Facebook competitor, but I have my doubts. For now, the benefits of clicking the +1 button simply aren’t there for users to bother clicking on them.

The +1 button will be a great new signal for Google to improve its search results and add information to its Social Search feature, but for it to really take off, Google will have to syndicate these results to places where people really want to send them. In its introductory video, Google says that it wants users to use this for sites they want to recommend, but don’t want to “want to send an email or post an update about.”

For Now, Your +1’s Disappear Into a Void – So Why Bother?

The real problem right now, tough, is that there are only so many buttons users can click on on any given site and unless they know where their recommendations go, chances are they won’t bother using this feature much.

With +1, your friends will see your “likes” on search results pages and on your Google Profile. I doubt that there is a lot of traffic to anybody’s Google Profile today, so why would I feel inclined to add more content to it? Instead, when I send a recommendation to Facebook or Twitter, I know exactly where it goes and who sees it.

Chances are, too, that my friends aren’t always looking for the same thing I do, so the chance of them actually seeing my +1 recommendations are pretty slim – making me even less inclined to use the button.

Until Google actually allows users to syndicate these +1’s to other sites and services like Facebook and Twitter, I doubt that this will take off in a major way.

That said, though, chances are that this is only a small step in Google’s overall social strategy. Maybe +1 could become part of a larger Facebook competitor in the long run, but given Google’s general failure to make any dent in this market, I doubt it (Buzz, Google’s last major foray into competing with Facebook doesn’t even get the courtesy of being allowed to aggregate +1’s, which is quite telling, I think).



12:16 pm


Search Gets Personal

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Starting today, Google will integrate Social Search deeper into its main search results and will highlight whenever your friends shared this link on Twitter or Buzz. Even more importantly, Google will use these signals from your friends to personalize your search results if appropriate. If your friend shared a story about Google’s new Social Search feature on Google Reader, for example, this link will climb up in Google’s search results.

Until now, Social Search was relegated to the bottom of the search results page and only showed items that your friends actually created. Now that it also takes links your friends shared on Twitter and Google Buzz – but not Facebook – into account, it has become exponentially more useful. My old colleague Mike Melanson describes how this feature works in more detail on ReadWriteWeb. Google plans to roll this feature out over the next few days.

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Across the Web, Search Gets Personal

The big trend here goes beyond the integration of social signals into search results, however. Today’s update to how Google displays its search results is part of a wider trend towards the personalization of search results. Here are a few examples: Just a few days ago, Bing announced that it will personalize results based on location (something Google has been doing for a while) and the links you have clicked on before. Earlier this week, Google announced a Chrome extensions that allows you to selectively block sites you don’t want to see in your ten blue links. With its slashtags, upstart search engine Blekko is making custom search engines the backbone of its service. Bing highlights likes from your Facebook friends when a relevant link appears in the results. All of the search engines now take your location into account when deciding which links to present to you.

For better or worse, companies like Google continue to learn more and more about our personal habits and those of our friends. It makes sense then, that this knowledge will sooner or later lead to completely personalized search results that aren’t based so much on the collective wisdom of the Internet (Pagerank), but on a sophisticated understanding of which links will likely be most interesting to the individual user.



1:06 pm


Google Puts Renewed Focus on Real-Time Search with New Social Search Test

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Somehow I completely missed the fact that those blue “shared by” links on Google’s search results page that I started seeing a few days were new. Given the pace of the search giant’s development cycle, I have to admit that I’m sometimes actually rather confused about what’s new and what’s been around for a while on Google…

But these “shared by” links are clearly new – and more and more people are now seeing them, too, so this seems to be more than just one Google’s many bucket tests and could be here to stay. These links tend to appear underneath links to news items in the OneBox news results section when you search for recent events. Another new feature is a live count of recent updates that now appears underneath the “Recent Updates” box when you search for keywords that are currently popular or trending on Twitter and Facebook.

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All of this points to a new emphasis of real-time search results in Google. Over on Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan speculates that Google could soon restrict these searches to just your friends, which is entirely possible and would make sense in light of Bing’s recent addition of more social features, but I actually find the new focus on real time more interesting. All of these new links, after all, point to Google’s real-time search feature, which was mostly hidden from sight until now. Instead of just pointing to a somewhat cryptically names “Updates” section in the sidebar, this new test actually explains that these updates come from “Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and more.”



11:06 pm