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November 8, 2013

Google or Facebook? The Future of Search

What on earth am I talking about? What is the relevance between a Social Media Giant and a Search Giant? Aren’t they just both enormous behemoths operating in a different digital universe? No, they are not. They are much closer competitors than most of us care to acknowledge. Certainly Google won’t acknowledge any similarities in the two platforms, that’s for sure. Although most people on the inside of the digital space have held the view I am about to share with you for some time now, it will be news to most.

Let me start by just highlighting one thing before you tune me out and put this rant into the realms of total gibberish! A short while ago Google shut down its 21st failed project! Why is this relevant? Well, just to highlight the fact that Google doesn’t get it right all the time. Like all businesses, and individuals for that matter (Richard Branson, is a great example), Google is not infallible, so please do not take the view that everything is and always will be Google search. At least not until you hear me out.

It is no secret that Google dominates search, but what type of search? Did you know there were other ways to search online? Google is index search. Currently, index search only accounts for half, yes half, of all online search. Of course, it was originally all online search (remember Alta Vista which closed down recently). Oh, and Yahoo. Remember that giant of search? The simple fact is that Google is already fading out, losing Search share at a remarkable rate. Yes, Google still dominates Index search, as strong as ever, but overall, users are looking to other platforms for their search needs.

Why? Simple again – Google is keyword based. The sites that dominate page one of Google (especially for large niches) are SEO’d to the max, cost serious dollars and generally are losing the deliverability that they once had, meaning quality content for the user is being depleted by a computer, not human interaction or engagement.

Facebook, on the other hand, uses something much more valuable than keywords. They use user interaction and engagement. This is created by profiling you, the Facebook member, online.

The recent introduction of Facebook Graph Search highlights this theory. This view is also supported by the introduction of Facebook Hashtags. No, Facebook was not following Twitter. In short, Facebook is now constantly (although they always have been) building an online profile of over 1 billion members worldwide. Facebook, unlike Google, has members (yes I know, Google does too – Gmail, Google+, etc. and you sign in, but it’s nothing like Facebook). It is this member base that is the true power behind Facebook – the ability to “profile” each and every user.

Have you ever wondered why you are always asked to like stuff? Hello! It is to assist this profiling. I don’t want to sound like George Orwell here, but that’s whats going on. Bear in mind, the average Facebook profile has music listened to, movies watched, favorite TV shows, Sports, Hobbies, Pages liked, and the list goes on and on. Facebook knows you!

“So what”, you may say? Well, let’s think of this from a business or, potential advertiser, perspective. For the first time in history (I find my self saying that a lot in relation to Facebook) a business can market/advertise directly to people/ members, using exact target demographics. An advertiser can now be 100% sure that the person seeing his ad on their Facebook page WILL have an interest or, at the very least, an affiliation with the service or product being promoted. This is powerful – extremely powerful! If you do not see that, I’m surprised you have read this far. So yes, all you skeptics, I know Facebook ads don’t work. Neither did the wheel until they made it round. Well, let me enlighten you, Facebook has just made it “round” by introducing Graph Search. Corporations are flocking to Facebook and will continue to do so. After all, how long did it take before YouTube became a legitimate advertising avenue.

It comes back to us, the consumers, the relevant players in the process of capitalism. We can go to the new Facebook Graph Search and search for products that will be of interest to us and these results are preferentially ordered by our friends, etc. It’s assumed (and generally, rightly so) that, if our friends have an interest in a certain business, location, service or product, then so will we. Fair enough.

Let’s get back to Google. Google search still delivers boring, old results based on the search strings used by consumers after those strings are churned in the Google “maxi” compute. It spits out results based on keywords that may or, may not, be relevant to us. It’s these keywords that the wise people at Google think are relevant to our interest or search, not what we think is relevant to our own interests (Facebook) or our friends’ interests (Facebook).

So, I’m sure you can now see that going forward (although it’s already happened and most of you just don’t believe it) a search on Facebook will yield far more relevant search results than on Google and create a greater user experience, both socially and commercially.

I can now hear some of you saying, “But I don’t want those damn ads on my Facebook timeline!” Personally, I find this attitude a little odd. After all, isn’t Facebook entitled to make a few bucks for providing us this amazing online behemoth for free? Surely, you can give the ads a bit of a look, if for no other reason than to keep Facebook free for our mutual benefit. I also find this odd because I can’t think of any form of media in the capitalist world (apart from non-for profits, etc.) that doesn’t have advertising all over it – television, newspapers, magazines, radio, billboards, and just about anything else you can think of. So why not on Facebook? After all Mark Zuckerberg made it very clear that Facebook will always be free.

On and on I go about Facebook, I know that’s what your thinking. But, more and more online platforms are being built with Facebook in mind, and why not. As I said at the start, Facebook is overtaking Windows as the new platform. It’s just the interaction that at this stage is different. HTML5 is also a major reason for this change (I won’t bother getting into that). I ask you this – how often do you go to a site and get a little button saying “login with Facebook”? All the time, right! And, you use it. I mean why not since it automatically gleans your info and populates an annoying form. I’m in!

By the way, the guys at Microsoft already know this (the demise of Windows) – hence Windows 8, a platform that many complain about but that covers all the bases – Windows, apps and tablets. Clever! A defensive strategy, but a good one that will ultimately pay off.

The future? I have absolutely no idea, beyond the short term. It’s a shame Stephen Hawking isn’t a Digital Media guy because that is the level of intellect required to have any grasp on the future of the digital space. Actually, no one has a grasp on the future of the digital space. But one thing is for sure, it won’t be Google. In my view, it will be the current Facebook platform that we will all be using while Google will bob along with Bing and Yahoo. Social Interaction will dominate. True engagement and interaction will be like we have never known it.

Oh, and do yourself a favor, save a few bucks on SEO. It won’t be worth a pinch of salt in a few years (most likely less). Just make sure you and your business are on Facebook.

Sorry, I’ll upset many with that comment I’m sure, but the SEO guys have had it good for a long time. Maybe you need to look into Facebook SEO. Yes, it does exist – you know “graph search” – I’ve mentioned it once or twice.

And by the way, if you were going to say “What about Google+, isn’t it going to challenge Facebook?” You have a good point except for the fact that Google+ is a dog! Sadly for Google.


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The Digital Media Strategist provides simple Facebook Business Page setups, easy to follow directions and instructions for your successful Facebook Marketing as well as affordable websites from as little as US$399.00. Feel Free to contact Guy Besley at www.thedigitalmediastrategist.com for any of your digital media questions, I am happy to offer free advice in order to assist your marketing and online advertising. Speak soon guys. PS. While your at it, get a FREE copy of my Facebook for Business eBook from my website. Happy Marketing!

40 Responses to “Google or Facebook? The Future of Search

    It is interesting… but no need that much writing.. i use a lo Google, Google Plus and Facebook. And from my experience and asking all my friends… no one at all use facebook for search… not regular search which is too much confusing and neither Graph search.

    avatar online shopping in lahore says:

    These Search and Social Media engines are neccessory for the time being….. no one is a complete surfer without Google and FaceBook… I am a big fan of these sites because I run an online shopping Store in Pakistan….Like Electronics, LED Tv, Mobiles, Laptops etc!!!
    These two Search Engines are Very helpful for me to grow my revenue and Business….
    Thanks Google and FaceBook

    avatar Roger says:

    I know this writer has stayed up late dreaming about the future of search but one area of the population he did not factor in is the reclusive, antisocial individual who enjoys quality time in the quiet space of their own home. I for one fall into this category. Not everyone is a social butterfly.

    avatar Harry says:

    I couldn’t agree more… There are lots of people who will never use FB. Basically, most of the info you will get from it comes from fairy land. Half Truths, unreal accounts, and the ideal self of a person who doesn’t really exist.

    avatar Pawel says:

    FB and other stupid social sites are for boring people who have no idea what to do with their spare time. It is really sad…

    avatar Ferry says:

    google and facebook it also has advantages and disadvantages, because basically nothing is perfect except God.
    Stay in addressing how we are both things that I think is

    avatar max says:

    I think it needs to look from a different point, when you browse facebook the majority of accounts are children’s, so just forget it. What also bothers me is you cant trust facebook, they just dont care about the user at all. One month ago they trashed about 20 pages I had in the account. Good travel and some product stuff which took me over 2 years to create, they just trashed it, all gone, do you trust such people? I dont. I also have a couple of similar subjects at Google’s + I never had any problem with it. Now I cleaned my computer from this facebook junk and never again, dont work with people who have no respect for other.

    avatar Pawel says:

    Hi,

    thanks for the post I did read it to the end… and being honest I’m quite disappointed. I mean you got few good points but why this sounds to me like one BIG ad promoting Facebook?

    Unless Facebook change user interface it won’t come even close to index search. Of course they will have billions of users, but if thous users wanted to search: “how to change the flat tire” they will go to index search, First: because they never “liked” anything that is even close to car mechanic and neither of his/her friends, Second: because it’s easier. Do you remember this old saying of internet users “don’t make me think” why? because (with all do respect) we are lazy.

    And if it comes to graph search I do agree it has a great potential but I also see that it’s a long way before we will use it on a scale similar to index search. Back in 1994 one of the professor at my University said: graph and artificial intelligence will soon dominate in technology. Twenty years later we are definitely making a big step towards this vision but still it’s a long way before us.

    So just to wrap it up. Facebook is exploring search market with their graph search that has a big potential. On the other hand Google went for social market with it’s Google+ and just after number of closed projects I suspect they are “not blind and asleep” So I wouldn’t be so eager to prophesy that the future of search is Facebook and Google will go down the drain.. Life is never that easy 🙂

    avatar gargy says:

    Nice article.To cater to what you have said,Google is shifting its base from keyword search slowly and trying their search engine work more of a human like by asking users to sign up or sign in prior to any search made on their search engine.

    avatar Edward says:

    Interesting read, BUT, I don’t fully agree in the fact that Facebook will overtake Google in terms of search.

    At it’s core Google is still a search engine but they have long since stepped away from the keyword only search engine mentality. Hummingbird is a prime example.

    avatar Alan says:

    I am confused? Since when did Facebook send an indexing bot out like Google and Bing do? Surely the definition of a search engine is that it at lease possess an active indexing bot?

    I agree with you, Guy. Facebook is confronting Google. But as the first two commentators pointed out, it’s not a threat as great as you may think. Google has counterattacked Facebook’s maneuver by introducing the social elements in their search.
    Secondly, Facebook is still used by majority for socializing, entertainment, and/or customer relations. Even though Zuck may have an intention to overshadow Google Search, yet this isn’t possible right now.
    Thirdly, their are privacy issues in question these days that may hinder social search at this point. People may not want search algorithms to consider certain, or all, of their interests and personal affairs. Facebook has already suffered from it, and Google has just started to ask users if they want to share their personal data for search or not.
    Still, I believe there’s something going on. Your point about the invalidation of SEO is worth considering. Simple backlinking and on-page optimization aren’t worth as much now as they used to be. Content is not king, but a president elected by the votes of those whom it aims to rule.

    avatar Francis says:

    Google is indeed in trouble. That is why they have released the panda and penguin to harvest more money to be able to invest new ideas. Changing their algorithm at the expense of innocent small business will have its toll. Bye bye google

    avatar Newager says:

    Anything that challenges Google on search has to be welcome news. Like many I now use Yahoo and Bing as it gives far better relevant results on a level playing field.

    Google has forced many people to look for alternative traffic such as Facebook and Twitter where you can get results whereas optimizing for Google search is a waste of time and money.

    avatar Troy Johnson says:

    A controversial article to be sure, but the profit motive of both Google and Facebook are worth addressing. Google’s sponsored search results dominate and Facebook promoted posts dominate what people see. Search is more about paying to play that SEO.

    Google+ is not a “dog” it is just hard to compete against a competitor so firmly entrenched. Large companies often say “like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.” They never mention Google+.

    Facebook is buggy. I post everyday and none of my posts for October display https://www.facebook.com/aalbcfanpage

    Interesting article. Indeed, introduction of Facebook Graph Search and hashtags means something.
    However, we neeed real competition in search of the net and new search possibilities are needed like Mozilla search engine ???

    avatar Jocelyn Ollett says:

    Google has lost relevancy as the focus of search.
    A search engine is still the best place to find information and products, so Bing and Yahoo will replace Google, unless it returns to the original format.
    But this is out of the question, as it would admit all those whizzkids have been making a pigs ear and lots of dollars!

    avatar max says:

    You are perfectly right. Google is on redundancy but not focused. The people who run Google search definitely don’t know what they are doing. Almost everything they do is wrong of course but they are still in the game because most users are not able to see through this. But more and more people understand that they get irrelevancy every day and sooner or later Google will suffer for it, but by then it might be too late for them. The three main things Google does wrong are: not focusing on relevancy which means keywords – introducing authority which is the same as a scream in the forest – and giving too much weight to links. That’s it! Content is the king, not irrelevant authority, links etc.

    There is no comparison between Google and Facebook. Because Facebook is only a social networking platform while Google has a dominant role on internet search. Even Google has its G+ to compete with Facebook.

    Your comments are thought-provoking, but if you are going to write as a marketing specialist who has published a book, I’d encourage you to take a quick course in grammar and punctuation.

    “your” and “you’re” are NOT interchangeable, and you write run-on sentences that are often hard to read and confusing.

    At a time when the web is moving more towards great imagery and short, if not terse, verbal messaging, it can’t be that hard to bone up on basic 8th grade skills.

    avatar Phil Gregory says:

    Seriously? I mean Seriously?

    “a search on Facebook will yield far more relevant search results than on Google and create a greater user experience, both socially and commercially.”

    NO No No and no, Facebook search is the most unrewarding and ultimately useless tool inside Facebook. They made a lot of Graph Search which seems to have vanished again. Not that it was effective. It promised a lot but delivered little. It WOULD be good if it could search an old friends name and school and town ..but it cant and doesnt.

    furthermore Google Plus is no DOG. It is FAR more useful than Facebook in terms of connecting you to relevant interest groups. People comment and actually seem to care about helping each other..instead of just having their say like on facebook. It has the added bonus of being integrated with images local search and listings.

    I have Read Site Pro news for years and this was the most “out there” article i have ever read.

    avatar Educationist says:

    Not apple to apple comparison friend…facebook sucks big time…you post relevant data that informs user and they bog it down and REMOVE it too…while Google likes to have unique and RELEVANT information for indexation. Facebook instead like to be DEVOID of them. Funny thing is this article irrelevantly compares …an apple to apple comparison would have conveyed right picture. SEO, SMO or any form of organic marketing is here to stay. We are here that SEO is DEAD since last 10 years and like cat has nine lives so does SEO has and may be more…!!

    I though Google had a stake in Facebook? If that is the case why then would anyone think that they would compete with each other? They wouldn’t, and all this pandering is just subliminal advertising for both giants. Well written post though!

    As probaly most companies have some kind of Facebook page already I can’t see Facebook as a search engine.

    They are just using info already stored from profiles.

    Should Facebook become a search engine I am presuming that you would have to submit your site for it to be recognised and listed as you do to Bing and Google as well as the many other search engines.

    avatar Garison says:

    Facebook is populated by people can’t spell, don’t know proper English, and think squirrels are reptiles.

    I would never search Facebook when I’m looking for facts and information.

    avatar Garison says:

    That’s “people WHO can’t spell”. Sometimes I type too fast.

    avatar Ian says:

    Very poorly written and argued piece of prose. Very biased position and no back up anywhere to suggest that Facebook is, or is going to be, shaping search as the author contends.
    This article was not a good reflection on SPN content of the past. Sorry but if you’re going to put yourself out there you have to support your position.

    avatar Tury says:

    neither google no facebook…FRIENDS 🙂

    Does it matter what platform people used to find the information they need? Google or Facebook or Bing, it makes no different as long as one gets the best result of what he/she is searching for

    avatar Ritesh Reet says:

    As far as I am concerned, I think these two giants have there own algorithms while providing you the data for your queries.

    But still I will opt for google for search results. Possibly in the future, some people will opt for facebook search results, but Google will always be in competition with other search engines. Hope to get the best as always from google itself.

    What a rubbish.

    Facebook Graph is analytics of a people and their likes.

    Google Search is analytics of websites and their keywords.

    Google also does analytics of people with Google Plus and is catching up with Facebook through its many sources, such as Gmail and Youtube users accounts.

    Facebook doesn’t do analytics of websites because it’s not crawling the net for the required data. And I don’t see them doing anything near yet.

    Yes they are competing, but only because Google decided to start building user profiles with Google+. Not because Facebook started to do Graph.

    avatar waleed says:

    Both are good. fb best for social and google best for search.

    Article obviously written to provoke controversy – an old trick to get reader’s attention. The central mistake in this article is that it does not compare apples with apples. (yes I know somebody said it already – but it bears repeating or confirming). If you want to do a “social” search only targeting your contacts+ then Facebook will do it for you (that is to say if you have enough contacts, visitations, etc.), but if you want to do a business or information search with the world as your target Google is by far still the King. There is no way Facebook can be a danger to that position that Google holds in the foreseeable future. And another thing – do not panic SEO’s – your jobs are changing but will not go away!

    avatar LowProfileWeb.com says:

    Thats Right…

    avatar John says:

    I think Google will come out on top as they are playing a long game… Did you notice how all Google products are linking up under the one account for each person. Eventually you will use one Google product that requires an account and once you sign up Google will be able to link your search history and usage through all products like YouTube. The time will come when even your anonymous searches will be linked to an account you have. At that point FB search won’t hold a candle to Google!

    As someone who has been advertising on Facebook since they rolled out their ads, I can tell you they do work, and for some businesses, especially youth oriented, they work well. That said, I regularly receive nasty messages from Facebook users cussing me out for the ad they saw. What could possibly be so offensive about and for custom copper range hoods or web development services. I have prepared a response for these mean, childish people that want to share:

    My advertisements pay for the Free Service you so enjoy. Facebook, like most Free Services, is advertiser supported. Most of us learned, while in grade school, when we use free services such as television, radio, and Facebook there will be ads.

    avatar Valentine says:

    I think Facebook will never ever overtake Google. Google partnership program of ad sense is something that facebook will never overtake. People may not log on to Google to search but will find a highly indexed site on any other search engine even from facebook pages with a google adsense advert and still contribute to google earnings. facebook must come up with a strategy to overtake google by partnerships. A go it alone road will not lead to any victory over google.

    Google plus has more than 1 billion users by the way so do not doubt google’s social media ability. http://www.brilliantfoundations.co.za

    avatar Tom Nguyen says:

    If Facebook is on the rise, then shouldn’t Bing/Yahoo should be on the rise as well since they are in cahoots?

    avatar Scott Sellars says:

    What a pile of self indulgent claptrap! I can only presume that you work for Facebook

    Firstly for Facebook to work as an advertising platform for a business their customers have to be on Facebook (Newsflash not everyone is on Facebook)

    Secondly you presume that people look at adverts that appear on the timeline (Newsflash I’ve never looked at a single advert)

    Thirdly you are assuming that Facebook is here to stay (Newsflash based on the rate that internet fads (remember AltaVista?) fade there is no guarantee that is the case). Active users in the UK have been diminishing meaning a business will be advertising to a smaller and smaller number of people (and most of those ignore the adverts)

    avatar AK says:

    There is no doubt that much effort and hard work has been put into this write up. Perhaps your readers could have appreciated you better if your message is rather educative and constructive by analysing the services the two giants have to offer in helping their users to meet what they want out of them. The people that use their services are mature minds who can decide what is the best for themselves if you lead them through a good analysis rather than unfair comparison. Both google and facebook today are where they are because of the works of experts in internet technology. As for google plus, there are individuals who are on facebook as well as google plus platform. Similarly an individual may use either of them as it pleases him.

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