Entities and the search query

Microsoft identifies entities and expands on them to improve Bing search results – or so it seems from this patent – “Query Expansion, Filtering and Ranking for Improved Semantic Search Results Utilizing Knowledge Graphs”.

How Bing May Expand Queries Based Upon Finding Entities Within Them, Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (April 3)

“The patent is telling us that it might provide improved search results by expanding queries using information about entities involved.”

Web Search without the Social

Frederic Lardinois says Good Riddance To Social Search Techcrunch (Dec 28) – and I agree. By social search he means the practice by Google and Bing to intermix the “likes” of online connections with Web search results. Remember the side panel in Bing.com with supposedly relevant postings by Facebook friends? The results might have been amusing but were rarely (if ever) relevant. This kind of social search has disappeared from Google and Bing.

As Lardinois says:

“I think one of the reasons social search failed is because our social media “friendships” don’t actually represent our real-life tastes all that well. Just because we follow people on Twitter or are friends with old high school classmates on Facebook doesn’t mean we like the same restaurants they do or share the politics they do.”

The concept of having what colleagues found valuable influence the search results you receive on some topic of common interest had some merit but it would take incredible effort to create exactly the right community. Such communities may exist in specialized  social networking groups, but not in the casual relationships of Facebook or Google Plus.

Bing goes conversational

Bing has added conversational search by which it uses previous searches to interpret  the current query and select results. Begin with a question such as – who is the prime minister of canada – get the answer – then ask – what party does he belong to – Conservative.

Google announced conversational capabilities with the Hummingbird update, but it doesn’t carry on the conversation the way Bing does now.

Bing Launches Conversational Search, Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Aug 13)

Bing with Twitter

Bing may become the go-to search engine for people who want to find Twitter activity on topics (use the #) and quickly find handles (use @).

Bing Ups Its Twitter Game: Rolls Out Hashtag & Twitter Handle Search Features, by Amy Gesenhues, Search Engine Land (Jun 27)

“With Bing’s latest round of new Twitter-related search features, users now can perform hashtag searches to find topics trending on the social media platform, as well as search for specific Twitter handles and celebrity-related tweets.”

BIng for learners

Bing makes finding materials easier for lifelong learners through the Snapshot (right panel) area.

  1. List of online courses for a topic – where available.
  2. Information nugget about a book when you search on the title. Examples I saw had a short entry from  WIkipedia. These “nuggets”  do appear for Canada  but are more frequent when your location is set to the United States. Bing can also indicate (for those in the US) whether the book you seek is in a library nearby as an ebook.  The screenshot below shows the full panel of Daniel Boorstin’s book, The Creators, obtained from Bing.com

    Bing knowledge entry for The Creators

    Bing knowledge entry for The Creators

Bing Adds Khan Academy Courses & Book Finding Results, Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Jul 1)

Improvements to Bing’s Snapshots

Bing has been growing its Snapshot answers. Like Google’s Knowledge Graph, Snapshot (actual search engine is called Sartori) displays information packets about entities and shows relationships.

Bing Snapshot Adds 150 Million New Entities & Relationships To Search Engine by Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land (Apr 1)

This posting shows changes in April that added 150 million new entities (doctors, lawyers, dentists, real estate properties according to the announcement – likely all USA) and expanded relationships to pick up audio or video clips if available.

On May 16 Bing added more facts about food and drugs to its knowledge base. (From Search Engine Land: Bing Snapshot)

Bing at Five Years

Bing, though it has not upset Google in market share, does have some successes in creating a search platform to be used in other applications.\

At Five Years Old, Bing Has Come Far Yet Has More To Grow, Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Jun 2)

“It just scored another win by powering Spotlight search in the forthcoming versions of Apple’s Mac OS X “Yosemite” operating system and iOS 8. Bing has certainly proven itself to be more a contender than I think many would have believed. Maybe in five years, we’ll see a real platform-to-platform battle happen.”

And in another five years the search engine scene will be completely different.

Bing is very social

Bing has a strong relationship with Twitter and Facebook – enough to index “half a billion tweets and two billion Facebook updates every day” and use social signals in assessing authority of pages.

The Intersection Of Search & Social, Casie Gilette, Search Engine Land (Mar 13)

Bing indexes half a billion tweets and two billion Facebook updates every day. Bing also integrates with LinkedIn, Klout, and are looking at Google+ data. That’s a lot of information!

 

According to Forrester, Bing is using all of these social signals to help determine authority. The search engines want to provide the best content from the best people, and social can help them determine who/what that is. Forrester noted that social signals are in fact influencing rankings, but only as part of an overall pattern. For example, when a large number of people are sharing or linking to a site, this attracts Bing’s attention. To determine if it truly has value, they may try to rank it higher and see what happens. He did however say that there is not a direct connection between number of likes and tweets to rankings.