Last year, I wrote an article for our sister site which discussed how Microsoft was planning on increasing it's search market share with a deal which saw it join forces with Yahoo.
The deal between the two companies was finalised a few months ago, and the work which will culminate in Microsoft Bing powering the Yahoo search engine remains ongoing. When complete, Microsoft will increase it's search market share substantially, but this isn't the only deal Microsoft has been working on since we first discussed the partnership.
The blog I wrote highlighted 4 key points which I felt Microsoft must consider in order to even contemplate challenging Google for market share. Interestingly, Microsoft seems to be working it's way through that list quite successfully.
Point 1: Incorporate Real-Time Search
Bing was the first of the major search engines to incorporate tweets into it's results pages, giving it's users the chance to effectively search in real time. Whilst Google has since included real-time search too (as well completely restructuring it's indexing process), Bing led the way and will certainly have converted a few people in the process.
Point 2: Improve SERP Relevancy
In terms of SERP relevancy, Bing seems to have created quite a successful ranking algorithm. Search something generic like 'Birmingham' for example, and Bing will return a segmented SERP made up of results relating to 'Birmingham Airport', 'Birmingham Hotels', 'Birmingham Jobs', 'Birmingham Restaurants' and 'Birmingham Weather' amongst other topics, and this surely enhances their results. In fact, Bing has now been recognised as a major player within the world of search as a result of the improvements made.
Point 3: Look beyond the 10 year plan
Those improvements have given other companies much needed reassurance in terms of the capabilities of Bing. Apple, the largest technology firm in the world, has added Bing as an optional search engine within it's most recent iPhone offering, and this is a major achievement. Not only are Apple and Microsoft in direct competition with each other in most markets, but Google as well as many other companies, thinks mobile search is the future, and by competing with Google directly within the mobile sector, Microsoft is certainly looking beyond the initial 10 year plan which it outlined when it announced plans to partner Yahoo.
Point 4: Look for alternate Search Partners
It's not just Apple which has expressed an interest in Microsoft Bing, Facebook has too. Facebook continues to grow at a rapid rate, and is certainly an Internet heavy-weight. Many feel that the world of search is to evolve into a social space and if this were to happen, Facebook would definitely be behind it. A couple of years ago, Microsoft bought a small stake in Facebook and agreed to power the 'web search' facility within the social network and to sell it's advertising space. Whilst Facebook is now going to manage it's own advertising, Microsoft and Facebook are working together to enhance the search facility to 'provide even more compelling experiences to Facebook users'.
Knowing that the number of active Facebook users has increased from 49 million to over 300 million over the last two years, Microsoft has definitely secured a valuable search partner in the form of Facebook, which has the potential to help Microsoft Bing seriously challenge Google's dominance over the search market.