Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Saturday, June 26, 2010
Allfacebook.com revealed the news of “Facebook’s declaration of search war against Google”, creating some interesting arguments between Google fans and Facebook fans.
In my opinion, it is ridiculous to presume that what Facebook means as “search” is the same as what Google is currently offering. It is because of this stereotypical definition of ‘search’ that people tend to take lightly the challenge made by Facebook against Google. Critics of Facebook search ask typical questions like “do Facebook users use FB search as a search engine?” and “is user experience on FB search better than Google?” These are only questions, if you take Facebook’s challenge on from its literal meaning.
I believe, when Facebook said “war on Google search”, they didn’t meant to say “replace Google search” but rather meant to say, “Replacing the way people discover new websites on internet”. It is a new way of getting rid of rats running around your house; not merely a better mousetrap.
Right now, more than 50% of web site traffic starts with a search engine query; which Google dominates over other search engines. When I want to buy a new mobile phone, I will Google for few keywords and start narrowing down my product choices. I use Google to search for ‘reviews’ of different models, and I check for ‘negative reviews’ and problems with the phone, along the way I make my decision. This is how I use “search” to discover a perfect mobile phone to buy. What will happen if I rely on the number of “likes” given by Facebook users for mobile phone models, instead of using Google? When I want to know what the best quality hotels in Manhattan are, I will Google for “hotels in Midtown Manhattan”. The top 10 results I see are not guaranteed to be the best, because we all know the top positions in Google SERP’s are dominated by the smartest of the SEO agents. Contrary to this, how about I go for the list of Manhattan hotels, which received the highest number of “likes”? Still someone can manipulate the results by bribing people to “like” a certain product, but I’m definitely going to trust the recommendations by fellow FB users, than believing a crawler index search engine result on Google.
The big idea behind the Facebook “like” button is this. This like button will collect an enormous amount of personal preference data on Facebook, which will help them to create the largest (and smoothest) human/user edited search engine on cyberspace. Call it semantic or what ever you want, but from users point of view this is going to be very helpful than machine matched keyword indexes.
The term to watch out in the future is “user edited search engine” which will redefine the way we talk about search. I don’t think the ones who make a living by helping others to optimize their web pages on Google, should not be disturb by these changes. It is said that Facebook SEO is now possible, so you can start talking about “like building” and “like baiting” on Facebook, instead of the conventional link building and link baiting.
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