Microsoft is giving Bing users one less reason to switch browser tabs. The company announced June 26 that it had brought a more integrated Twitter search experience to its search engine.
"Through our exclusive partnership with Twitter, we are rolling out a fast and intuitive way to discover tweets directly in our search results," said Microsoft's Bing division in a statement. Users will be able to look up Twitter profiles, trending hashtags and even tweets directly from Bing.
The move builds on a years-long association between the companies. In 2009, Microsoft and Twitter presided over the launch of Bing Twitter, which provided Twitter-specific search services based on real-time access to the social micro-blogging platform's content.
Twitter co-founder Biz Stone blogged at the time that his company was "earning a reputation for delivering real-time results to queries about things that are happening right now." He also asserted that "people want the choice to consume and create tweets wherever and whenever they prefer."
"The folks over at Bing took a keen interest in Twitter and worked fast to establish a working relationship with us in line with our open approach," said Stone. Microsoft and Twitter renewed the partnership in 2011.
Today, that relationship is yielding improved visibility of top Twitter content on the Bing search engine.
"The central idea behind the approach is that the most interesting content on Twitter can be determined by a combination of a tweet's popularity, its freshness and the authority of the user tweeting it," stated Microsoft. The company takes into account "a number of signals including tweet quality, retweet count, freshness of tweet, user profile info and verified status, among others." Those signals are placed in the company's model, which then serves up what Microsoft hopes "are top quality tweets."
Beginning a search with a hashtag (#) "automatically showcases the top matching hashtag suggestions," explained the company. Indeed, a dropdown now expands from the Bing search box and displays a list of related hashtags as a user types.
The same occurs when users search for Twitter handles using the familiar at sign (@), but with added links to additional profile information, including news, biographies, images, books and videos, if applicable. "You will see top suggestions for Twitter handles that match your input along with additional info that shows up on hover, to help you quickly find the right person," said the company.
Results based on hashtag-related queries display as Recent Tweets, complete with previews, related images (if any) and links to view the tweets on Twitter. Searches on Twitter handles are headlined by links to their respective Twitter accounts, followed by relevant tweets that are intermingled with Web results.
Twitter isn't the only social media giant with ties to Microsoft.
Facebook and Microsoft also share a cozy alliance. Under the terms of their collaboration, Bing searches are informed by the social data generated by a user's Facebook friends, causing "liked" content to bubble up to the top of search results.