Bing has made an announcement that might prove to be the biggest blow ever dealt to rival Google. Starting now, Bing will incorporate Facebook data into search results in the most personal and actionable social search to date. In short, search for something on Bing and, if you have activated Facebook results, you will see which pages, products and websites your friends like and recommend -- very high in results, no matter if that website routinely ranks first or dead last.
Got your attention?
Watch the video below, then keep reading to understand the full impact this has on Web professionals of every kind.
Perhaps what stands out most is that these results appear completely independent of any traditional SEO practices. If your friends like it, it will appear on the first page of results. Without a shadow of a doubt, this forever changes search and SEO. Here's how:
It's Not What you Know, but Who you Know
If you've ever searched for a job, you very well know that connections are what matters most. Bing is applying the same principle to search. The higher your business' visibility on Facebook, the better chances of your website being Liked and your content and products appearing high on these new social search results. As mentioned in the video, your Facebook friends don't need to Like content for it to appear high on Bing results -- even the Collective IQ will influence results.
Bing says this about how Facebook conversations will be incorporated, in their official blog post about the matter: "Our vision is to combine Bing with the power of discovery and empowerment of conversation. That's when the magic will really begin."
Clearly, more social integration will be coming from Bing.
Content Keeps the Throne
Let's take a brief step back. Content is King, and so it remains still. The only way a page will be Liked by the masses on Facebook is if it contains great content. That also means varied content -- not just blog posts but also video, images and audio -- as well as content optimized for a social context. But this does not kill traditional SEO. In many cases, pages will still need to be "found" in order to be Liked from the new Bing button. Total strangers to your business can still influence search results, so SEO still matters.
It's easy to see that Bing is relying on Facebook for social search. Some might think that, because it's so focused on one website, Facebook, this news is not exactly earth-shattering. But as Facebook blows past three-quarters of a billion users stretching across the world, yes, it matters greatly. Consider that Facebook users -- all of them -- now have added incentive to use Bing rather than Google. And don't expect Facebook to be the only or last social experience to be incorporated in Bing results. This is just the beginning.
Another interesting note -- Facebook could block Google from indexing any or all of its content, at any time. Which, could all but kill Google for heavy Facebook users.
You can understand if Google just swallowed. Hard. I can tell you that I've found Google search results -- while thorough -- less relevant as my Internet experience has become more social and localized. I bet I'm not the only one. Now you can understand why Google has been frantically trying to enter the social space, most recently with Google +1. Maybe, just maybe, it's too little, too late.