Microsoft Teams Bing With Yelp to Enhance Search Results

Microsoft has announced a deal with the community review site Yelp to add its reviews of restaurants, stores and other businesses to Bing search results.

In its never-ending effort to best Google in the search advertising business, Microsoft has partnered with Yelp to integrate its reviews into Bing search results.

The move by Microsoft, announced on a Bing Community blog post June 14, follows a similar move by Google to incorporate Zagat reviews into its Google+ Local Pages search function, which was announced May 30.

Yelp, which was founded in 2004, provides a searchable social networking site to find bars, restaurants, spas, hotels, automotive repair and other businesses. Users rate businesses on a scale of one to five stars, with five being the highest rating, and they can write their own reviews. Yelp had 71 million monthly unique visitors in the first quarter of 2012. It makes money selling ads adjacent to its reviews. Yelp went public on March 2.

Bing made another effort to beef up its search engine by incorporating Facebook connections to search results. If a user is searching for hotels to stay at in Maui, Bing will serve up messages from Facebook friends who have been to Maui.

Bing and other search engines have struggled to grow in comparison to the dominant Google. Google held a 66.7 percent share of the search market in May, up from 66.5 percent in April, according to comScore. Bing was a distant second with a 15.4 percent share, unchanged from the previous month. Yahoo Search, whose advertising business is provided by Microsoft, came in third with a 13.4 percent share versus 13.5 percent in April. Goggle served up 11.7 billion search results in May versus 2.7 billion for Bing and 2.3 billion for Yahoo.

Google acquired Zagat in September 2011 for $151 million as a way to compete against Yelp in the ad-supported review business. The Associated Press reported that Yelp considered selling itself to Google for $500 million in 2009 but later decided against it.

While Google and Bing try to one up each other with integration deals like those with Zagat and Yelp, they also compete by adding other features as well. Google in May rolled out the Google Knowledge Graph, which helps a user refine their search results. "The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about … and instantly get information that's relevant to your query," wrote Amit Singhal, senior VP of engineering at Google, in a blog post.

The Knowledge Graph, for instance, can provide search results and distinguish a search for Taj Mahal, the monument in India, from Taj Mahal, the blues musician and Taj Mahal, the Trump casino in Atlantic City, N.J., Singhal wrote.

In the Bing redesign that added the Facebook integration, Microsoft also added a middle column to the results page called "Snapshot." If the user hovers their cursor over one of the search results links on the left side of the page, additional information about that link appears in the middle column with more details about a hotel, destination or perhaps a review.