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Facebook and the Future of Search

by Thomas King on September 18, 2012

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Imagine a future where instead of saying you “Googled” something, you just “Facebooked” it.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated his intentions of exploring the search market with Facebook in a recent interview with Search Engine Land, stating “at some point, we’ll do it”.

This begs a number of questions: Is this about revenue and share price? Is this about creating a new and unique way of getting the answers you need? Or is this about staying in the game?

According to Zuckerberg, “1 billion queries per day” goes through Facebook, this presents a serious opportunity to make more money, so you can see why he might be interested in tapping into this potential. (source: Techcrunch)

In an attempt to lure more people to Google+ just five months after Facebook purchased Instagram for $1billion, Google announced their acquisition of their own photo sharing and editing app Snapseed.

If you tie this in with Google’s announcement that their social media and networking site has now reached 400 million users, with over 100 million active user every month, you can see why Facebook might be interested in competing with Google on all fronts (forward to 1:25 in the video below).

“Bing and Facebook Sitting in a Tree…”

Bing and Facebook have been developing their relationship for a while now. In an attempt to compete with Google, Bing is integrating Facebook and Twitter into the search result pages.

Users in the US can log in to Bing and communicate and interact with Facebook and Twitter friends and connections, including dragging results into a social bar to be published on social media sites and asking friends to help you with your search.

Bing have also released a Facebook application named “My Bing News”, which brings their relationship closer, creating further integration between social and search. This application enables Facebook users to search for news items through Bing, as well as selected topics of interest.

Is this an indication into how Facebook would develop its own search engine?

Search Evolution

In light of this, it is perhaps more plausible to foresee a Facebook search engine that is very different from the Google and Bing of today.

Consumer behaviour will be Facebook’s greatest challenge, with Google so deeply embedded in to people’s minds when on a quest for information. Facebook would be attempting to fundamentally change the way in which people go in search of answers.

The fact that people on Facebook are searching for their friends and not the cheapest place to buy an iPad is a problem. However, by increasingly investing their own efforts to play a more substantial part in social, both Google and Bing perhaps feel that their own consumers’ social connections are able to assist in providing the answers.

So what does this mean potentially for search and SEO in the future?

A Facebook search functionality would take search another step closer to complete integration with social. We are already moving in a direction that puts more emphasis on the way in which consumers interact with content, businesses and other online mediums, so a Facebook search entity would solidify that.

It may well be that shares, likes, reviews and other social metrics become fundamental to the successes of online businesses, ridding the internet communities of the SEO and link building tactics of today.

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About the Author

Thomas is a Senior Client Manager at Strategy Internet Marketing, overseeing SEO and digital marketing efforts on a diverse range of clients. Thomas’ passions include that rare combination of both technology and all things sporting, as well as investigating fresh SEO and marketing tactics.

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