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Microsoft began integrating Yelp restaurant content into Bing’s social search results in June, along with feeds from Facebook and Twitter, and doesn’t expect to be acquiring content companies any time soon.
Lisa Gurry, a Bing spokesperson, points out that Microsoft has plenty of experience in the content arena and has learned lessons along the way.
“The partnership model tends to work best,” Gurry says, adding that Bing also is highlighting content and/or technology from partners Citysearch, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, and Urbanspoon, for example. For the past two years it has also featured Frommer’s destination content on Bing Travel.
With partnerships, Bing can integrate multiple partners and can determine what type of content to use, Gurry adds.
Gurry claims Bing has a different and more “open” approach than Google’s.
Bing results highlight the “best of the web” instead of favoring its own properties, as Google does, Gurry says.
Yelp versus Zagat
When searching for restaurants, Bing displays Yelp’s star ratings, number of reviews, dollar symbols representing price range, review snippets, a map, a restaurant’s hours, and photo galleries — all without leaving Bing.
Supplementing the user-generated content are links to experts on Twitter, although the depth and relevancy sometimes can be lacking.
Bing’s attempt to incorporate expert content in this way falls way short of Google’s tapping Zagat for restaurant expertise.
On Bing you can also contact any Facebook friends who might have visited the restaurant, or you can ask Facebook friends for advice because Bing has integrated Facebook, creating what it calls “search plus social.”
And, for more detailed information, you can navigate from Bing to Yelp.com.
On the other hand, a Google search for restaurants finds Google-owned Zagat providing an overall score for the restaurant, as well as individual scores for the food, decor, and service if you are signed into Google+, which is integrated into Google local search.
One attractive feature of the Zagat treatment is that it provides specifics on expected meal costs while Yelp on Bing merely provides dollar symbols, indicating a price range.
Yelp generally provides a lot more user reviews than does Google, which has been misleadingly inflating its review numbers.
And, one Google advantage when scoping out restaurants has nothing to do with the acquire versus partner question.
In Google local search you can view the restaurant and neighborhood using Street View, which Google developed in-house.
Meanwhile, Google will undoubtedly enhance its destination information, with its announced acquisition of Frommer’s.