While Google is still by far the largest and most used search engine with Bing at about 16% of the market, we all know how quickly things happen on the internet. Remember the Alta Vista search engine? No? It used to be a BIG search engine - then upstart Google sat on it and broke it. Virtually overnight.
The boys at Redmond have new aces up their sleeves which is sure to worry Google - a lot.
Bing (Microsoft) inked a deal with Facebook where Facebook data will be integrated into a Bing search.
For example, if you use Bing to search for a Restaurant in Cape Town, those restaurants "liked" by your Facebook friends will get a boost in ranking compared to those that don't. Simply put, Bing will try to show you what your friends "like" (recommend) first. Now, instead of a dingy restaurant (with a good Search Engine Optimization consultant) shown first, Bing will aim to show you where your buddies like to eat. Same thing holds true for finding a web hosting company, plumber, B&B, roofing, flooring, landscaper, etc, etc.
Pretty cool hu?
(Btw, with friends like mine, I might take the Bing restaurant search results as those to avoid ;-)
The end result, and the holy grail for all search engines, are more relevant search results for users. The Facebook integration into searches significantly improves relevance on a personal, individual level. Your business better be marketing itself on Facebook, or be at a distinct disadvantage to your competitors who do.
More examples of social media integration are Bing and Google's work to incorporate Twitter feeds tightly into their search results - If you are searching for "Flowers West Coast" you'd rather see recent tweets about where the best flowers can be found rather than a 3 year old web page, right?
In fact, Bing applied for a patent whereby they will use "temporal events" to customize search. This means search results will change based on the time of the year, or current news events. For example, if you search for "Tsunami" you'll be shown academic articles about Tsunami's, but, if there is a recent disaster, you'd be shown that instead. Same thing holds for "Snow on Matroosberg", "Waves at Blouberg", you get the point. What is the most potent indicator of "temporal events"? The 500 million users on Facebook of course.
It is rumoured Google will be forced to make a similar deal with Facebook if it is to keep up with Bing.
To those that still think social networking (Facebook, Twitter and others) are toys: you need to get your head read.