Reports: Facebook Beefing Up Search

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KarlHakkarainen
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It's all about now.
KarlHakkarainen   4/2/2012 8:51:03 AM
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Google's search algorithms are showing more and more current information when topics are trending. Magic Johnson is back in the news with his bid for the Dodgers. As a result, search shows more about the Dodger deal than about his career. This will likely continue until his prominence in the news heads to the background. We'll then start to see more about his basketball career.

This trait, coupled wiith the Google+ loading, makes searches more focused on current signals rather than some arbitrary index of what's important. If I do a search with a custom date and only specify the end date, such as March 1, I can get a view of Magic's career before the recent news.

Although long overdue, it seems a bit odd that Facebook would be developing its own search team. Their friendly relationship with Microsoft would seem to be a good opportunity for both companies to leverage Bing as a social search resource. 

 

 

 

John Barnes
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Re: It's all about now.
John Barnes   4/2/2012 10:24:43 AM
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Also, don't overlook the power of  It Must Be True, The Computer Said So.  Many people will use what the search returned rather than re-searching to get what they wanted.  I think that's likely to be especially powerful with Facebook because of the number of naive users and the fact that Facebook searches are likely to be very people-oriented, so dumb searches  will work better anyway.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: It's all about now.
Mitch Wagner   4/2/2012 11:02:31 AM
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Karl, it appears likely that Facebook is looking to beef up its internal search results. Facebook members would use it to find out, for example, what their friends think is the best clothing store or taco stand in the area.  Or to find all discussions of last night's episode of Mad Men.

Given the volume of use of Facebook, that alone could be quite powerful and a competitor to Google and Bing. 

AliceAMM
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Re: It's all about now.
AliceAMM   4/2/2012 11:55:18 AM
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Why not? The more that people can do through Facebook continues to make FB an integral part of a user's world. If the oven could be controlled while logged into FB that would be even better.

We need to continue boldly going where no man has gone before.

Okay, not quite what Kirk had in mind, but it works. :)

smkinoshita
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Re: It's all about now.
smkinoshita   4/2/2012 1:45:58 PM
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I would say that Facebook's better internal search doesn't directly compete with Google's. 

Facebook's internal search results were a joke the last time I used them, so the beef-up is long overdue.  The thing is, I use Facebook's search to find information I know is on Facebook.  The kind of information I seek on Facebook has little to do with the kind of information I seek on Google.

Now mind you -- I've never used Facebook to search for friend's opinions on subjects.  I turn to my 'expert' friends when it comes to research, and I usually use the phone in that case. 

Despite this, I think even people who would search out their friends' opinions would treat 'within my network' searches as fulfilling a different need from Google's 'external network' searches.  If that is the case, then Facebook won't be so much competing against Google as much as acting as a complimentary resource.

This is definitely a 'time will tell' situation.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: It's all about now.
Mitch Wagner   4/2/2012 4:44:00 PM
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@smkinoshita - Do you think people would use Facebook to search for opinions -- great margarita bars in the neighborhoods -- and conversations?

That kind of thing would make Facebook more competitive with Twitter. 

It would compete with Google to the extent that Google search's mission is basically to help people use the Internet to get answers to questions. Anything on the Internet that provides answers without going through Google competes with Google. 

smkinoshita
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Re: It's all about now.
smkinoshita   4/2/2012 4:55:47 PM
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@Mitch:  You're right about Facebook becoming more competitive with Twitter in that respect.  As far as Google is concerned though... I don't equate 'opinion' with 'answer'.  Still, you make an interesting point.  I still think it's too early to guess.

Mitch Wagner
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Re: It's all about now.
Mitch Wagner   4/3/2012 10:42:23 AM
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@smkinoshita - There are some questions for which the best answer is a fact: Where is the nearest Walmart? Where is the most inexpensive place nearby to get paper towels?

For other questions, the answer is an opinion: Where is the best place near me to buy clothes? Who makes the best pizza in town?

Facebook appears to be going after the opinion-questions. 

Some questions are either opinion or fact depending on the perspective. I have a persistent cough. What should I do about that? The best answer for you depends on how you feel about Western medicine.

Mitch Wagner
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When the Facebook report surfaced late last week, SearchEngineLand's Danny Sullivan tweeted out a link to a 2007 article he wrote about the limits of social search that's still releveant today.

The main point for the purposes of this discussion: A person's friends tastes may be different from his own. What if I'm  a vegan whose friends are all carnivores? Their restaurant recommendations will be useless to me.  

Mitch Wagner
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Facebook and Web search
Mitch Wagner   4/3/2012 6:50:08 PM
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And SearchEngineLand looked at the Facebook reports again over the past few days:

Summed up: it's unlikely that Facebook is challenging Google on Web search. One reason: Facebook's existing agreement with Bing precludes that.

Facebook is likely beefing up its own, internal search, which would itself be huge, considering the enormous volume of data generated by hundreds of millions of people on Facebook.

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