Bing Snapshot Enhancements Help Business Professionals Link Up

Microsoft is promoting Bing as a professional search engine that can help business users find one another with a little help from LinkedIn.

Microsoft has rolled out enhancements to its Bing search engine that leverages social media to help users forge more professional connections.

Since Microsoft first unveiled Snapshot May 11, 2012, the company has been working to expand its reach across the Internet and social networks, explains Richard Qian, head of the Bing Index team, in a March 21 blog post. Anchoring the effort is Satori, which is software that discovers the connections and relationships between people and other aspects of their lives, including their careers.

"The underlying technology for Snapshot is designed to develop deep understanding of the world around us, not only as a collection of entities (people, places and things) but also the relationships between those entities. Inside the Bing engineering team, we call this technology Satori, which means understanding in Japanese," explained Qian.

Qian's team paid particular attention to people search. Celebrities, professionals and friends account for 10 percent of all Bing searches, making it the most popular category, he reported.

Now Satori is providing Bing users with new ways to find colleagues, explore professional relationships and research influencers and luminaries. Running searches on colleagues (or oneself) now populates Snapshot with a profile picture, social media links and a short bio—provided that they are active on LinkedIn or are profiled on Wikipedia (or both).

The revamped Snapshot feature, which integrates with search results and occupies the right side of the page (along with Sidebar), builds on the company's strategy of using social signals to generate more relevant, action-oriented results. Think of it as a mini-LinkedIn for people searches.

For example, a search on a company executive will show a summarized version of that person's LinkedIn profile information. Details include the aforementioned profile picture, title, location, education and past experience, along with links to the subject's LinkedIn profile.

It also provides links to other social media accounts, including Twitter and Facebook, along with a person's "Klout" and areas of expertise as determined by the social media ranking service. Finally, Snapshot offers alternatives based on other people's searches.

But it's not all business with Bing. Microsoft has opened the floodgates, allowing Satori to explore more entities (people, places and things) and the connections between them.

"Since its introduction in June, we have expanded Satori to include a significantly larger number of entities from more domains with a deeper level of understanding about them," wrote Qian. "So, whether you're searching for answers about a celebrity, co-worker, animal, geographic location or man-made structure, Bing helps you understand the world around you by providing at-a-glance answers about the people, places and things you care about," he added.

Location searches now allow travelers and researchers to discover more related information. For instance, a search of a city will show basic information like population statistics along with landmarks, transit hubs and other travel aids within Snapshot.

And if users want answers, they can just ask.

Bing now supports natural language, question-based searches. Typing "what is the highest mountain in the world" into the Bing search field will now show results and an information-packed Snapshot on Mt. Everest.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...