Microsoft has just announced that the Bing website is now integrating Quora in the social side bar. The idea -says Bing- is that the Microsoft search engine not only want to show pertinent search results, but also who provides relevant answers. Although there are relevant answers elsewhere (forums, Q&A sites…), this is a potentially huge win for Quora, where most users log-in via Facebook with their real identity. U.S based users should start seeing Quora contributors in the sidebar, today.
On the other hand, as search engines continue to integrate with social networks, it is clear to me that we’re going away from “relevancy” and closer to “popularity”. What made search engines in general great (Google in particular) was that one could find great “gems” by searching the web.
As webmasters started to “game” the link system, search engines have turned more and more to “brand recognition ranking” and “social signals” which are a popularity contest, at best. Of course, search engines have to work the data they have, but this basically means that people will have to actively “market themselves” to float up in the social media ranking. Companies can simply buy their way in. Some fear that this creates a vicious circle in which the big only gets better.
Do you think that deeper search integration is good or bad for the end-user? Do you think that the most “popular” answer is also the most “relevant”?