Clash of the Titans: Facebook Vs. Google [OP-ED]


bring it.

I was having a conversation with my dad the other day about Google. My dad has been a long-time player in the Google game when it comes to local listings. He owns his own top-level plumbing and air conditioning business, Rainforest Plumbing & Air, in Phoenix, Arizona. He’s fought hard to stay on the cutting edge of search to make sure that his gets found in the dizzying soup of other businesses in the industry. Not a unique story, but he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to the battlefield of search. He’s also very much into using social media to promote his business via an active Facebook page.

A common question he’s faced with is, Which is better, social media or Google? My dad has a theory that Facebook will one day beat the heck out of Google at its own game: search. At first, I thought ‘How could that be possible?’. Google is the king of search. Facebook is the king of social networking. Initially, the two seemed to me to be completely unrelated facets of the Internet experience. Sure, Sergey Brin revolutionized the very way we Interact with the web but did Mark Zuckerberg really do something on that same level? I soon began to realize that the answer is a resounding yes. And my prediction is that social media is going to start becoming synonymous with search very, very soon.

No doubt, Google has a killer search engine. It’s fast, accurate and, for the most part, relevant. An entire industry has been built around the premise of mastering the Google algorithm. Heck, volumes could (and have been) written about that subject. But search as we know it lacks something.

The Database of Actions

Writes founder Pete Cashmore via Monday, “What makes Facebook a possible Google rival is the massive amount of data it possesses on your individual preferences, your network of friends and the links you share.” Cashmore is talking about the personal aspect of Facebook. Whether we like it or not, Facebook knows who we are. It knows what we like, who we’re friends with and what they like, what we all like enough to share with others, the events we attend (or don’t attend) and so on. If Google is what John Battelle calls the “Database of Intentions”, then Facebook is the Database of Actions. And we all know that actions speak louder. Much, much louder.

This Database of Actions could ultimately create better search. Pete Cashmore cites the Facebook News Feed, introduced to the site in 2006, as one of the key advantages of Facebook. No longer do you have to type what you want in the search bar– now the content you want is streamed right to you via the feed. It’s all of what you actually want and none of what you don’t. No algorithm, no matter how smart, can ever deliver results like that.

Game On

All of the information is there. Facebook’s got it all stored in the network. We’ve already seen the power of that database in the form of Facebook ads and Friend suggestions, but will we see it applied to search? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure: the battle between Google and Facebook is already underway. Google’s recently rumored $6 billion acquisition of social shopping site, Groupon, will be its defensive move against Facebook’s introduction of its Deals feature not too long ago. Facebook announced its “Gmail killer” two weeks ago as well. And the list goes on and on.

In the end though, what does this all mean for the end user? As usual, competition means better products for you and me. As the Google/Facebook War of 2011 pans out, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of great new things. But what’s your take? Leave your two cents (or three or four) in the comments section and let us know what you think. Will Facebook really turn out to be the Google killer?

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3 Responses to “Clash of the Titans: Facebook Vs. Google [OP-ED]”
  1. Great post Dallin. When it comes to Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing, there is no “one-way” to do it all. Your dad and Rainforest Plumbing are definitely staying on top in the game, there are so many companies out there who create a facebook page or do a tiny bit of SEO then don’t ever touch it again. I think both super-powers will keep developing their algorithms and keep rewarding the people who are constantly updating their sites and status and keeping all their content relevant.

    As to “who will win”… I think only time will tell! used to be the only webpage on the internet with a PageRank 10, and now is also a PageRank 10. That’s HUGE. Here’s a link if anyone wants to learn more:

  2. Julia says:

    I came to this site by way of the Megan Joy interview but saw this post and was curious. After reading I must say that the very reasons you suggest Facebook could become a dominating force in the search world, the news feed, friend suggestions, specialized ads, and the database behind them, are some of the exact reasons I’ve come to hate Facebook and no longer use it. So I certainly hope Google stays on top, otherwise I’m sure I’ll be left very much out of the loop and become old and outdated at the ripe old age of 25.

    • Julia,

      First off, thanks for visiting the site! We’ve been online for a few months now and we love feedback.

      You mentioned that the social features of Facebook would drive you away from the idea of social search. I certainly don’t think you are alone in that. Quick question though: Why? Let us know!

      PS- the Megan Joy review is now up! Geek Sandwich >> Music

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