Facebook Is Doing Search. Should Google Be Concerned?

    September 14, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Facebook is doing search. We’ve been talking about this for quite some time, but now it has come straight from the mouth of CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Should Google consider Facebook a threat in the search department? Do you think Facebook can make search better with all of its data? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Zuckerberg was interviewed by Michael Arrington at TechCrunch Disrupt Tuesday evening, where he was asked about the possibility of Facebook getting into search. TechCrunch quotes him as saying, “We’re basically doing 1 billion queries a day and we’re not even trying.”

He’s also quoted as saying, “Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. At some point we’ll do it. We have a team working on it,” and “Search engines are really evolving to give you a set of answers, ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me.’”

So, from this I take it that Facebook is working towards building some kind of major search offering beyond its current search feature, and that answers will be a major component of that.

Interestingly enough, Facebook seems to have put its Facebook Questions offering to death. This could have factored in here, but apparently Facebook is choosing a different route.

In July, The Sydney Morning Herald talked with Lars Rasmussen, Facebook’s Director of Engineering, and a former Googler (the guy behind Google Maps). In that interview, Rasmussen said he was working on “something very specific which is super exciting,” but stressed that it’s not a “go-after-Google product.”

But, Google has said similar things about how Google+ isn’t a Facebook competitor in the past. It’s all tied together, and these companies are competing, no matter how they want to spin it. They’re competing for time spent online, online identity, and ultimately for ad dollars (not to mention other potential sources of revenue).

Google has plenty of reasons to make regulators see Facebook as a direct competitor. Mark Zuckerberg may have just helped out with that. It’s actually been quite a week in Google’s favor as far as the antitrust discussion goes. The company won a related case in Brazil, a new FTC nominee has written papers opposing antitrust regulation against Google, a report has come out talking about Amazon stealing away more product searches from Google, and then these comments from Zuckerberg.

“I can’t predict what will happen in the future but I don’t think it will make sense for us at this stage to even begin to think about doing web search,” Rasmussen said in the interview. “Google does that so well.”

Well, it has been about two months, so perhaps now is the time. Based on Zuckerberg’s comments, it seems that they’re at least thinking about it.

It is interesting that he said, “Google does that so well,” and not “Google and Bing,” or just “Bing,” considering Facebook’s partnership with Bing. Bing has Facebook social features and Facebook uses Bing for web search results. Microsoft is also an investor in Facebook.

It remains to be seen whether BIng will play a significant role in any search offering that Facebook may have up its sleeve, but clearly Bing isn’t satisfied with the “Google does that so we” philosophy.

As I talked about in another article, however, Facebook’s search offering doesn’t necessarily have to compete with Google in every way to be a relevant product. Twitter Search, for example, isn’t a Google killer, but it sure fills a void that Google is leaving with its lack of realtime search.

Did you know that more people are starting product searches with Amazon and less with Google than they were a few years ago? Amazon search is by no means a Google killer, but it’s taking away searches from Google, just like Twitter is, not to mention countless other sites and apps. Combined, all of these other ways of searching for information can take significantly away from Google searches, and like Amazon and Twitter, Facebook is a pretty big source of information.In one way in particular, it has a major leg up on Google: social data.

In July, Facebook announced that it has 955 million active users. All of them have personal social connections that can be used in a way that Google just can’t. Google can do whatever it wants with Google+, but Facebook is where the real social landscape is, and there’s a lot of potential for Facebook to do something greatly damaging to Google searches here.

Also consider that iOS 6, coming to most iPhone and iPad models (including the new iPhone 5) and the iPod Touch this month will feature heavy Facebook integration. How much data will this add to Facebook? Probably more than any of us can imagine.

“Now it’s easier than ever to interact with the world’s largest social network,” says Apple. “And there’s no need to leave your app to do it. Share a photo to Facebook right from Camera or Photos. Post your location right from Maps. Brag about a high score right from Game Center. If you have your hands full, just ask Siri to post for you. You need to sign in to Facebook only once, and you’ll be off and sharing. Never miss another birthday or get-together, since Facebook events are integrated into Calendar. And your Facebook friends’ profile information is integrated into Contacts, so when they update an email address or phone number you automatically stay up to date. Now that’s something to post about.”

Facebook on iOS

From a business perspective, think about how many brands are on Facebook, engaging with fans and customers, running Pages/Timelines, selling goods, advertising, pushing social campaigns and apps, etc. There is an entire business ecosystem already existent within Facebook, and there’s little question that any major search offering from Facebook would serve to grow this and make it more useful to both businesses and customers (and likely add a lot of revenue for Facebook itself).

Unfortunately, all we can do is speculate about how Facebook will do search at this point, and frankly, that probably won’t do anybody much good, but at least now, we have confirmation from Facebook’s leader that Facebook is indeed thinking about search.

I don’t expect that it’s that far off. Facebook, as it needs to find new revenue streams, has already been putting ads in its search box. I wonder if we’ll see something at f8 (Facebook’s developer conference) this year.

What would you like to see from a Facebook search engine? Is it a good idea? As a business, what kinds of features would you like to see? How about As a user? Would you even use a Facebook search engine? Share your thoughts in the comments.

  • http://www.seodegoogle.es Pablo Galvan – Seo de Google

    As i thought, facebook is trying to steal market to google, but it has a lot of problems.
    The important thing here is if facebook search just show the content of facebook or all the web. In any case i think that the social profiles are going to be even more important in the future.

  • James Counts

    Facebook will cease to exist soon!

  • Bing it on

    You know Mark is a genius. Pretty smart man. However, the Phds he employs are idiots. Have no common sense at all.


    1. Due to the nature of Facebook, the company should have never gone public. Even a 5 year old knows when a company goes public, it loses its soul and that hurts the users. How in the hell are you going to keep making money if it is not repeatedly violating user privacy and shoving ads on their faces all day; therefore turning them off?

    2. Stop messing around and start your own Google or DIE! Stop that silly relationship with Bing and start indexing the web! That will attract more investors.

    3. If you are going to start your own search engine, forget about that “social data” non-sense! Start matching queries to damn search results! People don’t care what their friends bought last week God damn it! Replicate the Google of 1998 and you’ll overtake Google in no time as you have millions of loyal users already at home.

    Unfortunately, Facebook will go the way of Myspace soon. They will waste money and start a silly internal search engine which will go nowhere.

  • http://michaelwalkeradv.com bill

    NO!…leave ‘search’ to the experts!! Facebook uses and abuses their capabilities and needs to learn the K.I.S.S. principle! (keep it simple stupid). I mean just think how many times a ‘facebook search’ interface would change! and how regulated their search features would become all to their own benefit! and what new uneditable features would be shoved down our throats! I’ll stick with google thanks!

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    Concern only if Google makes a noticeable amount of ad revenue traceable back to teenage searches.
    And maybe not so much, if FB is phishing their search results from other search engines Google will then only be losing their main landing page generated ad revenue.

  • AnonyMouse

    The only search result facebook would be good for is “who is dumb enough to pay us for this?”

  • http://cozumelmexico.net Bob Rodriguez

    Remember inktomi? What about the ODP (open directory project; where I was an editor). Now comes AOL, Yahoo, and finally Google (among countless others who have tried and failed at search). Never have I seen anything like PageRank in my entire life. I was using modem transfer before AOL (ProCom Plus). I opened an account with AOL the first day it was available. I could go on and on but you get the idea.

    The only reason I am bringing all of this up is because I believe it would be IMPOSSIBLE for someone to come up from behind and create a data base with as much RELEVENT content as Google without going through the endless process of “tweeking” its algorithms to cull out meaningless search query. FB is so far behind the curve and Google is so far ahead of the pack that I believe hell will freeze over first. Also, even more important is the demographic makeup of FB and the whole social media business is SO NOT a model as an advertising platform! GOOD LUCK FB…………You’ll need it!

    Now a partnership with Google based on revenue sharing? HMMMMM……………….

  • Steve

    People are capable of making some great things, but also the cause of breaking some great things.

    Hire some people with common sense and give Google a run for their money!

  • http://thesmartermedia.com Art

    Google should be more concerned with their BS Penguin. I see Bing is moving up quickly, possibly par with Google. I would like to see Bing become the top search engine.

  • http://www.foundationdigital.com.au Pamela

    With the increasingly poor results of Google, I would welcome Facebook entry into the search market.

  • Michael

    Look at their stock — Facebook is on its way to be coming insignificant.

  • http://jadeconcept.com Nunsuch

    Ever tried to find a plumber on Facebook? Considering that Facebook’s own site search has always been and still is completely unusable, I don’t think Google has anything to worry about.

  • http://lovezack.blogspot.com/ Zock

    I think Facebook wants to rule the world, just like father Google. Except Facebook wants to have closed doors behind their private information gathering, while Google will publicly do it.

  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    Competition is good.
    Do you have to log in to search on FB? Imagine all the tracking and 3rd party cookies!!!

  • Toni

    Yeah, Google should be petrified… If I were Mark I would try to avoid FB going into bankruptcy and saving the stock. Advertisers will realize that FB doesn’t drive traffic shortly, and the financial people will stop giving them money even faster. FB is the new Myspace.

  • Mark

    Google already destroyed their own search results this year, so the competition doesn’t have to.

  • http://karras-bommer.blogspot.com Karras Bommer

    Someone wrote even Google has failed at search. Are they kidding? Everyone I know, if they want an answer, they say ‘I’ll Google it.” Not search for it…Google it. Google has nothing to fear from Facebook. As one writer said, it is the new MySpace.

  • http://www.engage-2012.com/ Kevin

    I’d seriously doubt that Google should be significantly concerned. However, if Facebook will make the search really good, it might take Google some customers, because people are spending so much time on Facebook and the ‘Facebook Search’ would mean that they will not be required to leave the page to search something. It will be far more comfortable for them.

  • http://get.iqshot.com/ Michael

    Really, Facebook is doing Search .
    The spell Check Cant Find Zukerberg !!
    Put Zukerberg into Comments & you get the red underline & == > Lederberg . You used to get what I felt was antisemitic recommendations , Maybe with a different spelling.If a say Arab or German Owned Co owned site , Oh Vey . Skip the I hate anyone BS I Was Married to Israeli !

    YES Google should be worried . Worried the will be pissing their pants every day, laughing at Search Results from a Zuk’s Company that can’t even spell ! Facebook is a success because of what it is not who is working there !! Facebook better get focused before someone comes up with the NBT . It’s a virtual Club, barroom , park,skate park, beach … But it is big in spite of itself . Like a popular Club it’s time is Limited .

  • http://www.tipsinablog.com Danny

    Sounds Interesting…

    The way Facebook stock has been performing, they may try just about anything to peg back a few peso’s….

    Jokes aside, I doubt Google should be too concerned with Facebook cutting in on the web search market…

    As has been mentioned in comments above, Bing may offer some sort of competition to Google.

    Though, Bing currently seems to struggle with just getting pages indexed, which they seem to take forever to do…

    So, even Bing would probably struggle to make an impression on Google’s search Monopoly….

  • http://alanya-site.com Alanya

    No. Google have more to worry about than Facebook. Bing is their main competitor.

  • http://www.infowars.com Banatu

    If there’s one thing on the planet I hate more than Google, it’s Facebook. I agree with some of the other posters here that Google is going downhill fast as far as quality results, but I don’t see Facebook as even a remote possibility of a replacement.

    Even if FB produced better results (which it won’t), it’s already worse than Google in privacy/tracking issues and ease of use. I’ve never seen the slightest indication that FB is doing anything but getting worse in those areas. And while some of you scoff at privacy, there’s a huge market out there that takes it very seriously and simply will not consider FB for that reason, no matter how spectacular its search engine turns out to be.

  • http://www.thee1bishop.com Dr Clarence Rucker jr

    It does not take a rocket scientist to know, too much data means no privacy. I had to be intelligent to come up with that.. You got all data, you got everything. Where oh where, is Thomas Paine?

  • http://www.24houronlinemovies.in 24houronlinemovies.in

    I don’t think there can be any threat to Google.Google will always be there for search.But it need to change itself along with time.

  • Roy

    I had hopes for Facebook to be a search engine but I have lost it. I don’t think Mark got what it takes to run a search engine. The guy is a good programmer but has no common sense. The company should have never gone public, number 1. Number 2, they need to fix that damn Facebook first as it is an unfriendly mess. I spent the other day hours trying to do some tasks like hiding posts, figuring out how to hide friends, photos and crap like that. I had to search in Google how to do it, then the instructions were no longer working. I couldn’t find a freaking menu, it’s a freaking mess that Facebook. Not easy to use.

    I think it is time for Facebook to go.

  • http://gadgetrow.com/ Marina

    I think it will take time but Facebook have a good chance to became serious competitor to Google

  • http://bestinsuranceoc.wordpress.com/ Mike Bailey

    Facebook is really trying to compete with Google now and days, they do have a lot of information to use as a search engine but I don’t think it will be enough

  • http://lowcostseoforsmallbusiness.com/ backlinks

    I’m fairly certain We have check this out exact same form of statement in other places, it ought to be gaining interest with all the public.

  • Joshua Tree homes for sale

    I don’t think Google should be worried about that search thing in Facebook, because still Google got the widest and accurate results in searching than others.
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