Bing Linked Pages Allows Users to Influence Search Results
Microsoft's Bing today took the wraps off a new feature called Linked Pages, which offers a new way for you to influence search results on the site when someone searches for your name.
Linked Pages allows you to pick exactly which Internet links are most relevant or preferred when one of your friends performs a search for your name. The process requires that you first go to the Linked Pages site and then log in with your Facebook credentials. After that, you need to grant Bing permission to post to Facebook, and when you return to Bing, you can start curating the links to your name.
The Bing team offered some explanation for the new feature on its website. "There are probably many 'John Smith's' out there, but when John Smith's friends are looking for him, they want to find their friend John and information about him," Microsoft said. "By having more control over how you show up in Bing through linking related pages to your search results, now you can help your friends find the interesting stuff that you want them to see."
This latest development is an expansion of Bing's social search initiative with Facebook. That started last year when the search engine began allowing users to have their profile icons show up next to search results that they "liked" through their Facebook account.
And while the new Linked Pages feature may come as good news for heavy users of Facebook, some Bing users complained in the comments about it being so Facebook-centric. Commentor Gavin Greig said, "Why on earth is functionality for linking together different online presences tied to one particular one (Facebook)? Means it's completely useless for those of us who do have multiple online presences, but object to Facebook."
Others will likely see this move as a competitive response to Google's recent shift toward displaying Google+ pages in its search results. And an even more interesting scenario is one where Microsoft eventually decouples from its Facebook relationship and uses the Bing Linked Pages data to help populate its own social network called Socl, which Microsoft still refers to as a "research experiment."
Of course the biggest gripe likely to emerge as the feature comes into heavy use is the fact that others can link your name to results that you haven't authorized. According to Bing's explanation, you can easily un-link such results: "You have full control over what results you're linked in. Simply follow the link notification from Facebook or go to bing.com/linkedpages to remove links you added or links your friends added about you."
But this process would involve keeping a very close eye on your notifications, a daunting task if you have a lot of Facebook friends suddenly linking you on Bing. It seems like a better solution might be to first require link authorization from the friend you want to link on Bing.