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


Hiybbprqag: Google Claims Bing is Copying its Search Results (Updated)

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There is a major scandal brewing in the tech world this morning that has the potential to greatly tarnish the reputation of Bing, Microsoft’s Google-challenger. According to Search Engine Land‘s Danny Sullivan, Google thinks that Microsoft is copying some of its search results. That’s about as serious an allegation as there can be in the search engine world. In an early statement, Stefan Weitz, Microsoft’s director of Bing does not deny this and told Sullivan that Bing uses “multiple signals and approaches” when thinking about ranking.

So what happened? According to Search Engine Land, Google noticed that some of Bing’s search results looked more and more like Google’s over the last few months. In order to test this theory, Google set up a sting operation. Starting in mid-December, Google engineers used laptops that ran Internet Explorer and with both the Suggested Sites and Bing Toolbar turned on to search for around 100 terms that were either made up or barely ever searched for. Among these terms were nonsense words like hiybbprqagindoswiftjobinproduction and mbzrxpgjys. Most of these returned either none or very poor results on Google and none on Bing.

[notification type=”alert”] Update: Microsoft just published an official reaction on the Bing blog, acknowledging that it uses” the clickstream data we get from some of our customers, who opt-in to sharing anonymous data as they navigate the web in order to help us improve the experience for all users.”

Harry Shum, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for Bing, argues that Google created this controversy as a publicity stunt: “What we saw in today’s story was a spy-novelesque stunt to generate extreme outliers in tail query ranking. It was a creative tactic by a competitor, and we’ll take it as a back-handed compliment.”

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Google then set up fake search results for these terms that were accessible over the Internet but, given the nature of the search terms, would never be seen by real users. After just two weeks of running this experiment on these laptops with the Bing toolbar and IE’s Suggested Sites feature turned on, Bing started to return the exact same results for the terms used in Google’s honeypot sting. It’s important to note that this only happened for 7 out of the 100 terms Google experimented with.

Using IE, Suggested Sites and the Bing Toolbar to Copy Google Search Results

How did this happen? The likely explanation for this is that Bing uses the signals it gets from users who use the Bing Toolbar and Suggested Sites features to enhance its own search results. So whenever somebody who has these tools installed searches on Google, Bing gets this information. As Sullivan points out, this is perfectly within the realm of Microsoft’s privacy policy, but most users are likely not aware of it. Basically, Bing looks at what Internet Explorer users are clicking on when they use Google and then molds its own search results accordingly.

While that’s oddly clever and likely benefits Bing’s users, it also doesn’t feel right at all. The evidence, as presented by Google, is clearly damning for Bing. We expect to hear more from Microsoft about this over the course of the day and will update this post as warranted.



9:42 am