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Microsoft is buying a little influence for its number-two-ranked search engine.

Thursday, the company announced a strategic investment in Klout, and a two-way technical partnership that brings influence-scoring technology to Bing and search data to Klout.

“This is an alliance based on a shared belief that people are at the center of task completion,” Bing corporate vice president Derrick Connell wrote in a blog post. “To help you find the right person we need to determine who is influential and trusted on different topics on the web. Bing and Klout share this vision.”

With the partnership, Bing’s search sidebar, the social additive that includes Facebook, Twitter, and Quora data, has been enhanced with Klout scores to give searchers a better idea of the subject matter expertise of people that Bing suggests in the “People Who Know” box (pictured right).

Klout said that it would be incorporating search data from Bing in its scoring algorithm. The startup will use various search signals to more accurately reflect a person’s real-life influence in his or her overall score. Klout will reward a user (with a linked Wikipedia account) with additional points based on how often they are searched for on Bing, for instance.

Both companies, which have allocated resources to a joint development team, said Thursday’s announcements are just the initial start to making the connection between people, search, and influence.

The companies did not disclose the terms or amount of the investment.

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds/Flickr

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