Bing has struggled to become a viable alternative to Google — which has a 66.7 market share in search. The company has been aggressive with its partnerships and efforts to expand visibility. But while its new-ish Social Sidebar has done a good job of integrating social and search, many wonder if that’s enough.
Originally launched in May, Bing’s new social design divides the search engine into three columns — the third of which houses social results from Facebook, Foursquare, Quora, Twitter, and so on. The company is now testing a new format that features several visual and functional changes.
In terms of design, the update is far from drastic. Bing has replaced the social column’s gray background with a white one, helping it blend better with the rest of the page. However, in order to ensure visitors can still distinguish between the different kinds of results, it has also added the header “Social Results.”
Additionally, Bing is now showing more expanded information by default in the newly-renamed “From Social Networks” section. Previously visitors would have to hover over the former “People Who Know” section to view more details. The company has also changed “Friends Who Might Know” to “From Friends.”
Perhaps the biggest change is one that took place behind the scenes. In order to offer more relevant social content, Bing is digging deeper through all of the linked social activity — including likes, comments, shares, photos, and so on.
The activity stream of general questions from friends has been removed, and now more contextually-accurate results are beginning to surface — compared to just keyword matches. Search Engine Land noted that Quora results appear to be a popular result. If you’ve been active there, it could help you show up more for related searches.
According to Bing, only a small group of people currently have the updated Social Sidebar. If tests go well, it’s likely that it will be rolled out over the next few weeks.