By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
As Google continues to topple Microsoft’s Bing in the area of online search, Microsoft showed us that they’re not backing down, and surprised the social media world with a major announcement on Wednesday: Bing will now feature “tweets” – and soon, Facebook status updates – in real-time as part of their search engine results.
Initial reactions were a bit negative, as users worried about their privacy, and why it was even necessary to include them in results in the first place. After all, there are already many Twitter-specific search engines that produce real-time and analytical results, such as Twitter’s own search feature. Twitter was quick to assure users that privacy settings could be adjusted accordingly, and also stressed the fact that not all tweets would be included in searches. Twitter creator @Biz wrote on the Twitter blog,
“Twitter is providing Bing access to the overwhelming deluge of public, real-time tweets rushing in from all around the world so they can help you find those that make the most sense right now. While Twitter currently presents tweets based simply on timeliness, Bing is experimenting with new solutions such as “best match.”
While the announcement has definitely generated more buzz and usage of Bing, the question still remains: how relevant will it really be? If you’ve ever used the Twitter search, either by keyword or hashtag, the results can be overwhelming, streaming in at hundreds or thousands of results each second. If this happens with the Bing searches, will it turn users away? Microsoft claims there will be a feature to sift out irrelevant results, by analyzing keywords, number of retweets, and more in order to produce the best information; just how well it will work is still to be determined. In the end, users who use Bing as a “decision engine” will definitely have more opinions to chose from in order to make their choice.
This new feature has the potential to be big, as long as it can actually add value. While it may be more convenient, and raw results are interesting to see, but without a purpose, it will slowly become irrelevant. There is more data than ever before, between Web sites, blogs, social media profiles and more. In the race to relevancy, it’s the one who can find a way to bring all of that information together in a useful, interesting, and easily accessible way who will ultimately cross the finish line first. In the eyes of most users, that “one” is still Google.
Just hours after the Bing announcement, Google went one step further and announced the new Labs feature of Social Search, which will not only pull in Twitter results, but those from other social media platforms as well (similar to how you now see Google News and Images results). Already ahead in real-time tech with the recent release of Wave, Google is making the search experience closer to what we see for the future, and keeping the results relevant. Going even further, companies can monitor and analyze what it being said about their brand using sentiment analysis, which provides a breakdown of positive and negative tweets and topics from around the Web.
Imagine doing a search about a recent current event, and having results come up from a variety of sources to create a single, unique story, from all social media platforms, online news sources and blogs. Although right now, individual sites have their own search features, soon enough, it will all be gathered into one giant search engine; the Microsoft and Google ventures are only bringing us closer to that reality.
Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski from Stock.Xchng