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Microsoft has expanded its deal with Facebook to power Bing’s search results, as it strives to stay on top of Google’s own social search plans.The deal kicked off last October, but today Microsoft announced a few new wrinkles:
- Trusted Friends. Bing was already weighing “Likes” from your Facebook friends in its results, but now it will make the connection more obvious — for instance, it will will begin showing your friends’ Facebook images right next to search results that they’ve Liked.
- Collective IQ. In addition to weighing results based on your personal social network, Bing will use data from across Facebook whenever it’s relevant. For instance, if Avis has recently posted a message about a discount on Facebook, it will show up when you search for “Avis” on Bing. Similarly, if lots of people start to Like a certain site, it will rise in the overall search rankings.
- Travel features. Bing has had an edge over Google in travel search ever since Microsoft bought airfare-prediction company Farecast in 2007, and the Facebook deal capitalises on this: for instance, when you search on a city, you will see which of your Facebook friends live or have recently visited it, and if you “Like” a particular airfare result, updates to the price will automatically be delivered into your Facebook feed.
To get these improvements, you have to sign into Facebook first.
None of the improvements are major on their own, but they continue to put the pressure Google, which has made social one of its top priorities for 2011.
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