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June 8, 2011

Keynote: Confluence of Social Data & Search — SMX Advanced

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Morning! The days are quickly blending together in a flurry of sessions, conversations, dinners, lunches, drinks, parties and walking way to many blocks in high heels. Today we have Stefan Weitz, director at Bing (which, by the way, hosted a somewhat misplaced hip hop act at their party last night) who will discuss the significance of social and the Web, and then a firesid chat with Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land.

SMX

Stefan says he can’t talk sitting down, so he’s up with a pointer and slides.

Today, he’s talking Honey Badger (updates to its Webmaster Tools), Schema.org and the “so” of social. First up is Honey Badger (my all-time fav video). Why the name Honey Badger? It’s fierce, it’s on a mission, relentless. Unlike the honey badger in the video who quote “don’t give a s***,” — Bing cares.

New tools have crawl setting management, role management, toolbox site update. These offer more control and better help, he says.

Next is Schema.org. He wants to talk why it’s important. The Web is no longer a collection of documents. Almost everything you touch is decribed in ridiculous detail, but the data is scattered. So the search engines need to gather that data and reassemble them into an object. He is talking about a stapler, and all the information about a stapler. As a search engine, they need to assemble all the bits of data on a stapler.

The number of services that exist on the Web today are innumerable. How do we expose those services to help people do things. Despite the fact they have tons of feeds, some of them are problematic. For example, “movies.” Even the same title and year has 4 percent movie spam. This is all background into why Schema.org is important.

Allows publishers to mark up entities on their page to describe the stapler, and then they use the data. You can add extension with Schema.org because there isn’t any weight attribute.

Why social? From a Bing perspective, he references a decision engine. They had a great set of logic but they didn’t infuse emotion into the decision-making process — and people are emotional. 80 percent of people delay buying online before talking to someone.

The amount of data that engines consume every day is exploding. Part of it is all the new services like Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. We don’t do well with data overload. There’s so many options, people are delaying their decisions. Your brain looks at number of options and thinks it must be a very important decision. How do you process it when you’re confronted with all the choices?

He is showing data that there was 25 billion tweets in 2010. For the first time ever in humanity, we are able to look at who we know on the Internet and see the traces they are leaving behind.

Bing Power of People: Bring trusted friends into search. Then collective IQ helps make search better through the wisdom of the crowd. And enable conversation inside search.

We need this because humans are “pack” creatures. We like social interaction because it helps us with the concept of “safety.” Example: the earthquake in Japan triggered a hedge fund sale in New York. The second point is that people who communicate in packs, when they worked together on a problem, they increased their profits — more successful. We are also happier in our decisions when we follow a pack.

Social is critical but it’s only one piece of search quality.

Keynote, SMX Advanced

Now we have time for the “fireside” chat with Danny. You can see the candles? Danny just unveiled the table holding the candles was a shiny new Bing snowboard. Stefan asked if it was a bribe.

Danny is asking how Bing puts our direct answers and how are they scalable.

The answers are the top of the page, they do qualitative and quantitative research by common tasks people are doing when they are looking for a city. They create a framework for potential information resources to create an answer. It’s not just data — it’s services now, like an Open Table service presented to the user. These are going to evolve into more active answers directly in the results. How does Bing know how to fire an answer versus a SERP, he says there are certain triggers.

Danny is showing a video. It’s promoting their social search — he is asking how big of a shift it is to integrate with Facebook. He is referencing his points earlier. We need to figure out who the user knows and trusts. The partnership with Facebook is rounding out the social search.

Stefan is talking about the Like button. It’s hard to figure out why people “like” things. But, when someone sees that someone they know sees a particular link, it helps people focus on where they look.

Danny says Google seems to be taking Twitter data (instead of Facebook). Stefan says Bing uses Twitter and says it’s amazing for breaking news. Stefan questions if you can you be competitive without Facebook in social search? It can be tough.

Danny is talking about Facebook knowing who your real friends are, and Stefan says he doesn’t know if they can see not only friends but deeper connections.

Danny is asking about Schema.org. He is saying, aren’t the search engines supposed to do that stuff for us anyway? (people start to clap and Stefan says “no clapping!”). Stefan says the challenge is language is a complex thing. They do a lot of that today, but certain things will have more data about what it is that is on a person’s Web page.

Questions from audience:

Will Schema.org affect a site position?

Stefan: It’s one of the signals.

Does social search conflict with privacy?

Stefan: Privacy is something we look at. We look at if it’s transparent, is it controllable, is there a clear benefit to using the data?

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