With Graph Search, Facebook unofficially entered the competitive market for Internet Search in direct competition with Google who continues to dominate the multi billion dollar search industry.
Will Facebook Forever Change Search?
The status quo for search engines is lead by Google, Yahoo and Bing each of which index web pages and online content by a discovery process including direct submission or indirect crawling of the web.
Zuckerberg is quick to point out that "Graph search is not Web search". Unlike conventional search, graph search uses an entirely different type of ranking system. The graph can be likened to a map which represents the total sum of your social media connections. And, with respect to Facebook’s announcement, their graph search will return results based exclusively on your social sphere and the data they’ve furnished through their social media accounts that indicates their personal preferences, activities, shared content and ‘Likes’.
In its earliest iteration, graph search focuses on four types of searches including people, photos, places and interests. For example, if you were to search Facebook for a hotel or restaurant, your results would not show standard links as those you’d see in a regular search result. Instead, the results are drawn from those hotels or restaurants that your circle of friends have visited and endorsed through such Facebook actions as ‘Like’ing or checking in to a specific location. The benefit to the end user is the added dimension of social proof which influences buying habits based on the understanding that people tend to buy what their friends have also purchased.
If Facebook is successful in rolling out their graphical search function correctly, they stand to tap into Google’s generous market share and billion dollar revenue source.
Can Facebook Succeed Where Bing Has Failed?
There are lessons to be drawn from the highly competitive world of search engines in which Bing has been fighting tooth and nail to take a bigger share of the market without success. The cause of Bing’s failure to win this race can largely be attributed to their traditional advertising campaigns.The idea that TV commercials and football game sponsorships can make a Googler a Binger is far fetched.
Facebook currently has over one billion monthly visitors and is the largest social network on our planet. Introducing a new concept of search to the masses will be easier to achieve.
Can Facebook Make Money Off Of Graph Search?
At the conceptual level, if the point of graph search is to highlight the consumer choices of those within your circle of family and friends, then sponsored ads would certainly be contraindicated in that kind of environment.Can Facebook readily capitalize on social search if recommendations preclude advertising?
Offering Google PPC type ads in the graph search results listings probably won’t be a revenue source for Facebook. But, the API implications of this are endless. Can you imagine what type of apps you can build using this type of API? I have always wanted to search my social network for, “friends in seattle who like mountain biking.”
About The Author: Gabriel Gervelis is the owner an SEO company in Seattle, Gervelis Search Marketing, he is a contributing author at Search Engine Journal, member of DECA's Business Leadership Committee, and a founding member of the Seattle SEO Network