We were all waiting in anticipation for the big Facebook reveal yesterday after weeks of rumours and wild guesses as to what it could be. Industry experts attended their headquarters in California for a huge press conference after receiving invites that simply stated, ‘Come and see what we’re building.’
Online rumours had been varied and some even wild, yet two final options seemed to be reoccurring. The first a Facebook designed smartphone and more interestingly to me, a Facebook search engine. Both ideas are innovative and would make a big impact on social media as a whole, yet as an SEO expert my concern lies with the search engine and the effect this will have on Google current SERPs.
According to website Pocket-Lint, the move is a no brainer for Facebook, ‘Although exact details of how the new search engine will work remain unclear for now, we have been told that the social network is planning to launch a big new search future on the site very soon, one that will shake everything up…if Facebook were to allow users to quickly search the social network and beyond for example, it cause major headaches for Google: the new feature would give Facebook users a reason to bypass Google altogether.’
At around 6pm GMT yesterday all of this speculation ended.
Facebook had indeed launch a search engine – but not as we know it. The new feature allows Facebook users to search for people, phrases and those with similar interests. The design known as Graph Search allows users to sift through pictures, posts and messages in a bid to gain as much information as possible. ‘Graph search is a completely new way for people to get information on Facebook. Graph Search is a really big project. Eventually we want to index all the posts and all of the content on Facebook. This is one of the coolest things we’ve done in a while.’
The effect of the search engine is summed up by Zuckerberg’s sentence, ‘Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and return to you the answer, not links to other places that might take you to the answer.’
Currently the search engine is in its infancy and will most likely yield no results for some more specific terms, in this occurrence the user will be redirected to Google’s rival, Microsoft Bing. This of course, over time will take a large amount of traffic to Bing and in turn change the way search engine optimisation is targeted to Google. The new search system will also challenge the newest social media platform around, Google+ which aims to connect people and inform them of cultural, music and social interests – a rather similar aim to that of Facebook’s Graph search.
Brian Blau from research firm Gartner summed the move by Facebook in one, ‘In the future, you know Facebook will figure out how to monetize this. It’s going to change the way people think about search.’
It does however raise the issue of privacy and if users will become more careful and cautious about what they enter online, especially if it is so easy to search for new and old likes and posts and reveal in depth information at the click of a button.
It seems as though only time will tell the power of Facebook and if it really can challenge Google.