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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.


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 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!