Facebook – the real coming of social search?

Apr. 05, 2012 | by Allyson.James

Last week it was reported that Facebook were angling to rival Google’s domination of the search market by creating a bespoke search engine. Rumours, fuelled by a blurry image of Mark Zuckerberg’s MacBook Pro screen showing an unfamiliar Facebook branded search box, flew around the internet. We even joked about ‘ZuckerSearch’ in our traditional April fools post, but was this the first glimpse of the much speculated and long-awaited Google killer?

The sensationalists amongst us may have jumped on this bandwagon; however the likelihood is that the team of Facebook engineers, headed by an ex-Google employee, is simply working on improving the fairly basic integrated search function that Facebook already offers.

With Facebook nearing 1 billion users, the service has long been awaiting an update that will allow users to easily navigate through shared media on the platform. Currently, although there are many ways of refining your search results, they can be counter-intuitive and do not fully utilise the wealth of personal and social information that is stored on the Facebook servers.

Indeed, we are now seeing a huge move towards social search – although the impact of Google’s “Search plus your world” is yet to be fully seen (and we have speculated that although initial uptake has been fast, Google+ engagement levels are low), the move away from semantic to social-signal led results seems to be on all search professional’s minds. If Facebook did have the same resource and experience that is available to Google then could a real competitor be on the cards?

In short, that is the problem. The years that have gone into the Google algorithm and its organic growth and change means that they of course have a head-start, and a very large one at that. While reports are that a team of 24 are to be working on Facebook search, the talent pool at Google is huge. Take a look at the video linked below for a sneak peak at one of the search quality team meetings:

Google Search Quality Meeting

The dedication and passion to such a small algorithm change is obvious. So, in my opinion, it’s going to take something special to prise Google’s huge market share away from them. Facebook certainly have what Google lack to truly implement social search, but there is no love lost between the two. According to both parties, Google cannot even see Facebook’s social shares.

So what does the future hold? If social really is the pinnacle of the search world as we are being led to believe, and Facebook really is serious about making a dent into the market,  then my money is on it being through Bing. It is Facebook and Bing’s partnership, not Facebook alone, that will surely be the David to Google’s Goliath.

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    Comments (2)

    • AnneM

      Indeed facebook has becoming more popular. In fact, they are now buying the famous photo application instagram. Wow!Apr 13, 2012 03:01 am

    • Modestos Siotos

      Nice post Allyson - keep up the great work!Apr 6, 2012 08:33 pm

    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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