Can Google Ignore Facebook And Stay On Top?

Third-parties working to fill in the gaps

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Can Google Ignore Facebook And Stay On Top?
[ Search]

Google has been doing a lot to make search more social, but the search giant continues to leave out your friends’ Facebook content from its results. Sure, you may find people from your social circle (as defined by Google) in the mix, but hundreds of millions of people use Facebook, and many of them use it as their primary social network – the one where they communicate the most with their closest friends and family.

Do you think Facebook integration would improve the Google experience? Tell us what you think.

Facebook data can improve search for a variety of reasons tied to that point. One reason is that of recommendations, even if they’re inadvertent. People say positive and negative things about experiences they have with brands, places, movies, music, food, etc. This occurs naturally all the time. This information – based on people you know (and know whether or not you trust or care about their opinion) can provide a great deal of relevance to a query.

Another reason is photos. Imagine how nice it would be to see photos from your friends turn up for relevant queries. Let’s say you want to take a vacation in Maui. You could search for pictures of Maui on Google and find some beautiful shots no doubt. How nice would it be to see your friends’ honeymoon pictures in the mix? See the fun things they did while they were there. You may not have even known they went there, but if their photos surfaced in your Google search, you would know, and possibly be led to discuss their experience with them.

Videos are another reason. People are posting more and more videos on Facebook – both original and links to interesting or entertaining things they’ve found on the web. In relevant cases, wouldn’t it be nice to see videos from your friends when they make sense. You can apply the Maui example here as well. Or let’s say you’re searching for “TV on the Radio” videos, but not one specifically. Maybe you could see some specific ones that your friends thought were particularly cool.

But Google does not include this kind of personalized Facebook data in its search results, and there is nothing indicating that this is on the way either. Bing uses more personalized Facebook data, but not in this rich of an experience.

Meanwhile, third-parties are busy finding solutions to problems like this. Greplin and Wajam are two examples. Granted, neither of these services offer the perfect solution to create the kind of rich search experience I’m describing, but they’re making strides where the big search engines are slow to adapt to user needs.

For example, Wajam launched a new feature for its browser plugins, which allow you to control which Twitter and Facebook friends you want to be included in your search results.

Manage friends on Wajam

There’s a good chance you don’t in fact care about the opinion of everybody you’re friends with on Facebook. Just because you knew somebody in High School doesn’t mean you care about their opinions on Mexican food. However, your friend that provides an awesome cuisine every time you go to their house for a dinner party might carry more weight.

On the other hand, you never know what you’re going to be searching for down the road, and whose words may have some hidden and unexpected relevance. Maybe you are friends with someone who has the complete opposite taste in movies as you. If they say a movie sucks, maybe you’ll be more inclined to watch it.

That’s beside the point.

The point is that Facebook content has the potential to make search better when integrated in interesting and relevant ways. This is one reason why Facebook itself could be a dangerous match for Google, if it ever decided to start taking search more seriously.

To some, the notion may seem odd, but it didn’t take long for a new-ish search engine called Bing to gain significant ground in the search market. And Facebook’s user-base is enormous. A solid marketing budget can go a long way, as Microsoft proved with Bing. Then of course there’s that whole Bing-Facebook partnership thing. Bing powers Facebook’s web results and Bing will no doubt find new ways to integrate Facebook into its own experience.

Earlier this week, Experian Hitwise research came out, finding that Google has lost ground to the Bing-Yahoo alliance six months in a row in the U.S.

Does Google need to give users personalized Facebook results? Share your thoughts.

Can Google Ignore Facebook And Stay On Top?
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  • Jennifer Howard

    While it is hard in this day and age to not be swept up by the social networking storm that has been unleashed upon every website, street corner sign and family member, integrating Google with it would be even more difficult. Also, that just gives Facebook more power over Google’s SERPs, Google should keep all their algorithm and decision making in their own hands. Look at some of the great websites that have fallen to the wayside in the past, like MySpace even.

    Facebook, when it comes to being looked at as a company, is still young. It’s grown fast, it could die fast as well. And just like their are link farms, guess what the new thing will be. Facebook Farming, only not in Farmville! They will find ways to continuously make many new pages and it’d be hard to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Whereas with link farming, you can see simply by how relative the links are.

    My opinion, don’t do it.

    • http://www.fireups.com FireUps

      Of course they have to do it. its web based content and if gogle ignores it then someone else will include it, (bing) and google will loose market share.. I think facebook is a waste of time personally but i have to pay attention to it as a marketer and I can see the value for business in many respects. The problem is most of it is crap content. So how to deal with it, I think you don’t consider it web or images or whatever and consider it social. consider it another search type.. now with social we optimize for the first page of social results for our keywords and we can advertise on search around it. Problem solved ;) LOL

      • http://www.fireups.com FireUps

        think about it.. simply by managing the algorithm to index all social media, Google could then controls the social media space by providing an index for anything that matters in social. Generate revenue by providing advertising and keep the crap out of the traditional web results. Google could then empower other social networks that have better content, better conversation, provide a channel to extend the conversation across social all networks(buzz). Royalty!… Google LOL. Facebook compete with google/search … Dreaming!

  • Kamakshi Sri

    To be frank, Google should ignore Face Book to stay on top. I agree that the social networks role in our lives has increased but no body would like to have results from FB. Can you ever imagine what FB mess the SERP will look like? There are thousands of ppl on FB with same interest and taste, do you mean that Google will show up those on SERP, then its better that ppl conduct their search on FB.

    Another point is that this kind of strategy would be nothing but an encouragement for FB to enter search. If users find FB results on SERP, won’t they prefer FB for search.

    Coming to the point”Let’s say you want to take a vacation in Maui. You could search for pictures of Maui on Google and find some beautiful shots no doubt. How nice would it be to see your friends’ honeymoon pictures in the mix? ” There is also a negative shade of that. My friend may be someone’s enemy and she would not like her enemy to know anything about her. We connect with friends and share things which we feel like sharing with our friends only and not to the whole world.

    If suppose they filter results and show up then, still audience will say clean FB stuff from SERP. That will be another challenge for Google. So, please stay of it.

  • KS

    You might be knowing about the social networks rule of sending a friend request. Sometimes we accept some and turn out some of them. Why? Because we do not want that man to connect with us and have any knowledge about us. Would not Google probably be hurting user’s privacy unknowingly?

  • http://www.el-minjas.com mr lhasa apso

    Google should ignore Face Book to stay on top. to Quote”I agree that the social networks role in our lives has increased but no body would like to have results from FB. Can you ever imagine what FB mess the SERP will look like? There are thousands of ppl on FB with same interest and taste, do you mean that Google will show up those on SERP, then its better that ppl conduct their search on FB.” I totally agree with Kamakshi Sri

  • http://w1z111-campfirecontent.blogspot.com Charlie

    I don’t think there’s too much question about what things will undoubtedly evolve to. People want a “one-stop-portal” I think. And, depending who brings everything together first; Google or Facebook or Bing or some other (yet unknown?) kid from generation Y or Z; I think we’re in for a real treat once it happens.

    I’m from a much earlier generation, and from my vantage point I see a lot of confusion still rampant in the cyber-worlds springing up everywhere. All I hear is “there’s an app for that!”, which is good…and surely handy…but I can’t help wonder how to keep track of everything. Oh, I forgot…”there’s an app for that!” Yeeeesh!

    Anyway…back to the point…I just hope whoever develops the “app of all apps” does it in such a way that users can truly feel safe and secure; we already know how iffy our privacy is; and people will ultimately demand (as will legislation, surely) more of a warm and fuzzy sense of their personal and professional “digital-life-safety”.

  • http://www.mohanarun.com Mohan Arun

    I am against this idea too. I wouldnt want my ‘friends’ showing up in what is supposed to be search engine results. If they enabled it I will turn it off.

  • http://www.aktivtek.no søkemotoroptimalisering

    I don’t think Facebook integration would help anybody. That would be the next way to make the search results inaccurate. There is a lot of people wanted to rank higher in the search results. The bigger part of them would create and use Facebook accounts to get better rankings.

  • http://www.guenzel-online.net S G Guenzel

    No, I don’t think that facebook and other social network postings should been included to Google’s search, because otherwise it would be hard to find really relevant search results. There are possibilities to search for interesting blogs etc. directly at the social network sites.

  • Snowflake’s mom

    Facebook already does a terrible job respecting privacy controls in its site. Google would just make that worse.

  • Thunder

    “Integrating” Facebook with Google, for WHAT PURPOSE?
    Chris, you say “..but the search giant continues to leave out your friends’ Facebook content from its results.”

    GOOD. Just because someone is a “friend” on Facebook does not EQUATE with FRIEND in the good old classical, pre-Facebook sense.

    Even my best “true friends” are not CLONES of me and my interests.

    Glomming up Search results with the videos of Facebook friends and opinions is just making, to me, Search less efficient and more time consuming. If, PERHAPS, a search engine had a Default OFF setting “Include Facebook friends with Search Results” that might be the “one-stop shopping” some people talk about as ideal.

    But, I am not a heavy Facebook user, sparse, as a matter of fact, because all Friending is doing and incorporating Apps is creating more revenue for Facebook. It is NOT about “Sharing” for the sake of making us all “Connected” and “in Cosmic Unison” for Zuckerberg and his cronies.

    That is the FRONT to Facebook. It is ALL ABOUT SELLABLE MARKETING DATA.

    Facebook is nothing but a gigantic money machine for pitching you tons of products.

    I would rather be less connected and have REAL friends than a couple thousand Facebook Friends who do not truly care whether I live or die, and would not help me to do either.

  • John Dogan

    NO i do not think it is a good idea to include Face book in the Google search results, i think Face book already has enough information on all of the idiots stupid enough to put personal information on this very dangerous web site. Not sure if many people realise yet but all the information you put on this site no longer belongs to you ? that’s right YOUR information now belongs to Face Book and you can not ever get it removed or take back control of it !!!! Scary or what…


    Check it out

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Actually, they let you download it all.

  • Burt

    There’s already enough garbage in search results without adding more. When the day comes that I need/have to go to FB for anything is the day I’ll be done with the net.

    FB cares about one thing…$$$…once they set the hook and create enough of a dependency and steal all your information and contacts, FB will own your arse and will then exploit you in any way they see fit, holding you hostage to their demands.

    Heck FB already has so many zombies addicted to mafia wars and farmville, I’m sure these addicts wouldn’t buck too much if FB decided to charge a small fee to retain their accounts.

  • http://n/a Thomas Baldridge

    I am signed up for facebook but find it rather useless & a bit intrusive. Receive requests to be friends w/people I’ve never met or recognize. E-mail is sufficient for me — even at that I receive a whole lot of junk/spam.

  • http://www.thedirecttree.com John

    I agree with Burt. There is a lot of garbage in the search results as is so why would anyone search for anything useful within peoples facebook posts? Vast majority are personal messages so people could actually have issues with privacy!

  • David

    What a horrible thought !!
    If those people peddling the majority of inconsequential rubbish on FB want to search for more .. let them search FB. Please Google, leave them to it.

  • http://www.key2income4life.com Birgit Jurock

    Imagine that mess, I am searching for something, like information (real info), someone’s web site, a company etc and then I have to search through everybody’s opinion about a subject before I find what I am looking for? With millions of teenagers “swomming” FB 24/7 with ….??? (sorry, but it’s true, isn’t it?). And then of course the privacy issues already being a mess….

  • Beamer

    Who says search has to be social? Good Lord, Chris, you are so easily led. If I want to take a vacation in Maui or see shots of Maui, I will go to my travel agent. I am not looking to see my friend’s honeymoon pics. Good Grief!

    I know a lot of people, they are not all my friends. You can count your true friends on one finger. I don’t need Facebook or Google to connect with friends or family. I have a…wait for it…PHONE!

    Google’s search results are already full of complete and utter garbage. Why add more?

    I’m not an FB user. When I tried to sign up for an account and saw all the personal information they wanted, which I might add was none of their freaking business, I decided to not to sign up. People said to me “just lie like everyone else does.” So, WTF is the point then? Join FB to connect with people who lie about who/what they are? Does this make sense to anyone? Using Google or FB to connect with people just doesn’t blow my hair back.

    Anyone with an ounce of sense knows that putting personal information on the internet is just asking for it. I’m a private person and prefer to keep it that way.

    I like face-to-face encounters when wanting to connect. This way I can see you for who you really are, see your facial expressions and body language, voice inflections, feel your vibes.

    Chris, I think it’s time to get your head out of the clouds. Come down to earth and connect with people on a real level. How sad to get excited about the next Google “in thing” or the internet to connect with real people.

    Don’t spend all your time in front of a computer to see what your friends are up to. Get on the phone and give them a call, or better yet, get in your car and drive then walk up to the front door and knock. Once inside they may offer you an ice cold beer to sip and enjoy in the cool of the day while sitting on the patio, laughing and chewing the fat. Maybe throw some burgers or hot dogs on the grill. Now THAT’S what I call connecting with a friend on a personal level.

    Doesn’t that sound and feel a lot better than looking to Google or FB to see what friends or family are doing? It does to me. I’m in Florida where the sun is shining, the sky is blue and soft winds are blowing. Turning off this pc and getting outside to “connect”.

    See ya later :-)

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      If you’re not a FB user, it wouldn’t affect you whatsoever.

  • http://www.metaltome.com Raevyn

    Please for the love of god and all things holy, and unholy for that matter, DO NOT GIVE FACEBOOK MORE POWER than it already has. Aside from that, it’s already hard enough to keep your personal life private on Facebook. Even though there are filters to only allow specific people to see your stuff, somehow things still get around. The world has already made it so that most folks MUST have a Facebook account in order to keep up with online marketing, don’t make it even worse.

  • http://www.myersgaragedoors.co.uk/garage_door_repairs.htm Garage Door Repairs

    What is the point in bringing your friends Facebook comments up in Google when you search for something? I can’t see how it’s relevant, if I wanted my Facebook friends to recommend a product or service or information I would search on Facebook in the first place. I think this would simply dilute Googles relevance and leave the door open for professional spammers to ruin Googles results through shady so called SEO practices.

  • CNXTim

    I believe Google is thinking ahead to the time where FB begins its decline. There are waay too many intrusive actions taking place without FB users control. There is a very real chance a “wake-up” tsunani will see users turining away from the constant blather….At least Twitter limits the size of the message and reduces the pain of all that static.

  • http://n/a Thomas Baldridge

    I don’t like Facebook.

  • http://www.braidwooddesignstudio.com Judit Kovacs

    Have you really thought about what Facebook is? A lot of people and their friends, OK, but there is a lot of very low quality contribution/comment posted as well. What is the relevance of friends telling the world about the dog that is so cute? How many people would/do use Facebook to find something other than funny videos on YouTube? Yes, I do use facebook, do have friends all over the world but beyond social chat, they contribute to no business. I NEVER click on any of the ads and unless the pages that are created (and my profile) are VERY public, having integrated it with Google would only increase Facebook’s popularity and take away Google’s primary objective: a powerful search engine that ANYBODY can use who means business, looks for information etc. Just think, to hit on an “F” on any website would take you to a page or wall in Facebook where more often than not you can see the post only if you log in and the information most likely to be dated. And the content only takes you back to the website you came from any way. Leave them separate – it would be Google’s loss and Facebook’s gain and profit to those who jump on the new SEO bandwagon.

  • http://www.blujay.com/tenthedj Bryan L.

    No I don’t think so. Right now there are too many teenagers and people overall who use Facebook for stupidity! Like trying get all in each other’s business. I didn’t even want MySpace, but it looks good on your business cards. If Facebook could be used like Lindedin, then I guess it would be cool.

  • https://www.searchen.com/ domainer

    Google doesn’t want to get tied to a competing third party in any aspect of the quality or usefulness of their search results… I can’t blame them for not including this.

  • http://www.dollarcounts.com/ TPJaveton

    Facebook is a power house in social search, no doubt; And ignoring it may not be a smart move for Google, the Internet’s overall search powerhouse; but when we take into consideration all the other activities both companies are involved with (and what they have planned), it probably won’t be long before their interests overlap.

    I don’t see the “ignoring” factor as a problem at this stage, although it is a very interesting discussion for now and the foreseeable future as the two companies continue to dominate their respective search areas. Thanks for a great article.


  • http://twitter.com/facebookdisease Aaron

    The craze for Facebook will soon fade, but interest in Google search will grow definitely, because Facebook is a time-waster and time spent on Google search is worth the time spent.

  • http://twitter.com/facebookdisease Aaron

    I sum up the following:
    Google is an Asset
    Facebook is a Liability.
    Google is an Income
    Facebook is an Expenditure.
    Google is what comes in
    Facebook is what goes out
    Google is a Current account
    Facebook is a Loan account

    • http://twitter.com/facebookdisease Aaron

      Google is fame,
      Facebook is shame.

  • http://aWiserStart.com Rey Tamayo

    I hate Facebook but it is part of my job and I am using it more and more because of it. In another column about Bing taking over I was transformed. I had ignored Bing completely except for its consumer rebates which I use and I can’t believe Google is not doing. But after reading your article I went and took a fresh look at it and I am thinking I might switch completely. If I am wrong about how good it is, I will definitely at least start using it for social searches because Facebook searches suck.

    On the other hand if Facebook became a full search engine with good results (and so far I have not seen Bing help) I would just stay there and happily do my job there and do all of my searches there. Its funny I see the FB Bing partnership as I saw the Yahoo and Google partnership at the begining before Yahoo lost everything to Google. Bing needs to be careful.

  • Gerald

    Why don’t Google start something similar to facebook? There are a lot of people that only use fb because there is nothing else and would really like to get away from that sh*t. Facebook belongs to and is managed by people who are racist liers with blood on their hands, they don’t have any integrity or conscious at all.

  • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

    Wow, an overwhelmingly negative response to the idea of Facebook in search. I find it interesting that so many have no interest in friend-related data surfacing in search results when relevant.

    Regardless of how you feel about that, Google is already doing this. Just not with Facebook. They’re doing it with Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, etc. It’s called social search.

    Bing is using Facebook.

    Some here seem to be under the impression I’m calling for Google search results to be largely content from Facebook. That’s really not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about surfacing content from your personal network (when it is indeed relevant to a search). It’s a matter of reading a movie review from a complete stranger vs. reading one from somebody you actually know, and whose opinion you might actually have more of a basis for reference on (this is just an example).

    I’ve been using Wajam for a while, and while it needs work, it’s pretty good at surfacing Facebook/Twitter content when applicable, without diluting the Google experience itself. It’s all surfaced in the same place, and quite easy to ignore if you know you’re not looking for something from your Facebook friends, but at the same time, you can see something that may be of use to you, that you had no idea actually existed.

    I don’t believe Google is leaving FB data alone because it doesn’t think the content would be relevant. Why would they use public data in realtime search if that were the case – this info is arguably less relevant in many cases, considering its lack of personalization.

    Nobody has to agree that this is a good direction for search, but Facebook is the closest reflection of real life friendships on the web, for a great many people. To me, knowing somebody in real life can be a pretty good indicator of trust level.

    • Rachael

      I prefer to find out the facts and make my own decisions. Just because my buddy Likes something, doesn’t mean I will. I think McAffee, BBB, and Verisign badge improve my trust level of a site much more than if a random friend likes something. Only children and immature people put a lot of store by friends opinions. Adults like facts and real security.

  • Rachael

    I don’t want my friends or my Facebook photos and info to appear in search results on Google -ever! It is a violation of privacy. If I want to check out my friends’ photos, I can look at their photo albums and the news feed alerts me about new photos just fine. When I search on Google I want world-wide, generic results. I like Facebook to a point, but it is boring me. The ubiquitous Likes are annoying and dilute their significance. I think Google is making a good choice. Facebook is a good tool, but it is also an overrated fad.

  • http://www.bulwarkpestcontrol.com Pest Control Guy

    Yes, they could stay on top. Google’s dominance comes from search, not from social media. While they are trying to infuse social media with search, Google will still remain relevant for a very long, long time without Facebook. Perhaps in a very long game, Google choosing to ignore FaceBook could mean a crack in their dynasty reign, but I think they could reign another 100 internet years with that small crack.

    • http://facebook kohila balachandran

      gbbgbggg jinkies…jinkies…jinkies….gbgbgbb google looses toooo b’coz goooglle website has less webpages for facebook america but the bing website has more webpages for facebook amerrica…. if you loook gbgbgbgbgbgbbbbbbbbb…………

  • zalel

    Yes, definitely.

  • http://www.get-business-online.com/ Gal Baras

    This should be a great move for Google, if only because it would encourage people to be logged in with their Google account.

    Although Google could use AJAX to get Facebook results from whichever Facebook account the browser is logged into, but to create a really good experience, it’s better to fetch the results from their own index, stir and serve with garnish.

  • http://kamleshwar.com Kamleshwar

    Both are doing different tasks you can compare Facebook with MySpace, Orkut or other social sites but can’t with Google Search engine.


  • http://www.hedgehogdigital.co.uk/ SEO Bedford

    How can Google integrate Facebook data in its search results when Facebook has a partnership with Bing? I doubt Facebook will ever share its data with Google if it wants its partnership with Bing to last.

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