25 Comments

Summary:

Facebook’s search results will now include all web pages that have been “liked” by users who clicked on buttons powered by the social network’s Open Graph protocol, in what is clearly the first step towards building a social search engine. But can “likes” rival Google’s PageRank?

When Facebook launched its Open Graph protocol in April, blanketing the web with “like” and “recommend” buttons, it seemed obvious that one of the company’s goals was to use the resulting behavioral data to power a social search engine — one based on likes instead of links. That process is now well under way, as a report at AllFacebook notes. The company has confirmed that all web pages that use the network’s open graph plugins show up in the social network’s search results in the same way that traditional Facebook pages do, as described by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his keynote at the F8 conference.

Facebook hasn’t said exactly how many websites have implemented the Open Graph API and plugins since the new platform launched (a week after the launch it said there were 50,000), but the protocol was an extension of the company’s existing Facebook Connect service, which enabled publishers to integrate features from the site into their pages, including allowing users to log in with their Facebook credentials. According to the company, more than a million websites — including some highly trafficked sites such as The Huffington Post — have integrated its features, and 150 million of the network’s more than 400 million users “engage with Facebook” in some way through external sites every month. So will Facebook’s social search engine be a Google killer?

The network’s move to harness the power of its Open Graph protocol is clearly a shot across Google’s bow, but it’s not clear whether the power of the “like” is equivalent to or greater than the power of the link. As Liz noted in a GigaOM Pro report (subscription required), knowing what our friends or Facebook users in general have recommended is useful in some cases — when looking for a hotel or restaurant, for example — but might be less useful in other cases. There’s no question, however, that the Open Graph data Facebook is collecting could become a real alternative to a simple Google search for some users. Being able to search for recommendations from close to half a billion users could be very powerful.

Meanwhile, the search giant hasn’t made much progress in incorporating social elements into its own search engine, apart from integrating Twitter results — although since Facebook’s Open Graph protocol is theoretically an open standard, there is the potential for Google to use that to pull in the network’s results in the same way it uses Twitter’s API (social search engine OneRiot recently added Facebook “like” data to its search in this way). Microsoft’s Bing will likely have a leg up in that department, however, because it runs the Facebook search engine, under the terms of a deal signed in 2008. Facebook search grew by 48 percent in March compared to the previous month, according to comScore rankings. That gave the network a relatively puny 2.7 percent share of the U.S. search business, but still put it ahead of AOL.

In the video below, Facebook’s chief technology officer Bret Taylor tells Liz Gannes about what he wants to focus on for the future — a list that includes search:

Related content from GigaOM Pro: Why Google Should Fear the Social Web

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Ruurmo

This article also appeared on BusinessWeek.com

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. Is Facebook's Social Search Engine a Google Killer? « My Suk2 Blog Friday, June 25, 2010

    [...] Link: Is Facebook's Social Search Engine a Google Killer? [...]

  2. The power of the Like button resides in a crowdsourced search engine where humans and not bots recommend pages.
    This potentially leads to a “cleaner” web as people click on more interesting content and not the obviously keyword stuffed pages.
    Also it should filter out a lot of embarrassing content like porn for instance, leading to a search engine more family friendly.
    After all, who will “like” a porn material, generating a wall post on your Facebook profile that is broadcasted to all your friends?

    But this is hardly news, just a confirmation by Facebook of the obvious (Mathew, check that May 1st posting: http://blog.bottomlessinc.com/2010/05/facebook-rivaling-google-by-building-its-own-web-crawler-powered-by-you/)

  3. TechDubDoob Friday, June 25, 2010

    I don’t think it’s a Google killer at all. It’ll end up being a good alternative at most but it’ll never replace Google as the way to search.

  4. I think some day facebook search will beat Google search.And facebook is tomorrow’s Google.

  5. Entendiendo la búsqueda social » El Blog de Enrique Dans Saturday, June 26, 2010

    [...] está especulando en muchos artículos con las comparaciones entre Google y Facebook, o con las posibilidades de Facebook de convertirse en una amenaza para el negocio fundamental de Google, la [...]

  6. Entendiendo la búsqueda social Saturday, June 26, 2010

    [...] está especulando en muchos artículos con las comparaciones entre Google y Facebook, o con las posibilidades de Facebook de convertirse en una amenaza para el negocio fundamental de Google, la [...]

  7. Borislav Agapiev Saturday, June 26, 2010

    FB “like” is a step in the right direction – it is a signal about the visited page. In ranking, it is also very useful to know where the surfer came from i.e. the referrer. It will be interesting to see if FB tries to capture that too in the future.

    This is not to say that “like” is not powerful, one can get all kinds of interesting rankings, including formal ones, with that data alone.

  8. sobre tecnologia » Blog Archive » Entendiendo la búsqueda social Saturday, June 26, 2010

    [...] está especulando en muchos artículos con las comparaciones entre Google y Facebook, o con las posibilidades de Facebook de convertirse en una amenaza para el negocio fundamental de Google, la [...]

  9. Maybe Google will team up with Twitter to offer something similar ? I heard facebook is worried about twitter which is tomorrows faecbook which is today’s google which is todays microsoft of yesterday(one trick pony)

  10. Article Marketing & Proof It Works Saturday, June 26, 2010

    [...] Is Facebook’s Social Search Engine a Google Killer? [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post