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Facebook Search: Stinks Now, Strong Tomorrow

Last year, I was tasked with the job of assembling an enormous list of Facebook pages for a project, which presented me with a daunting task, considering the revelation that I had once I started: Facebook’s search stinks! I was specifically asked to find all Facebook pages with a certain phrase in it and to compile all the people and pages connected to Facebook using a company name. I thought that this should be straightforward enough, especially since Facebook has a search feature. I did my search for the phrase and was met with thousands of results, which I then had to categorize and sort into a massive workbook spreadsheet. I had a co-worker help compile the list.

We soon discovered that there were different search results based on the Facebook account searched from. This presented us with a challenge. We wound up having to use multiple Facebook accounts to ensure that we were putting together the most complete list that we could. But, we both realized that (at the time) Facebook search stinks. I was stumped with how inefficient Facebook’s search was, but because Facebook is gated behind memberships, I couldn’t use Google, the king of search for the last decade to search for the materials that I needed.

Facebook recently revealed new search technology called Graph Search using Bing’s search engine technology. See this link http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2236618/Facebook-Introduces-Graph-Search. As Facebook grows and more and more people sign up, and more and more apps are written to integrate our personal “likes”, tastes and preferences, I predict that the future of searching will be increasingly personalized. From the promises Facebook is making about their new search algorithm, you will even be able to search for items on the internet that your Facebook friends are talking about.

For social purposes, will Bing be more important in the future than Google? Well, it certainly looks that way. Google has enjoyed being at the top for a while now, but Microsoft was very smart to offer their search engine technology to Facebook. It is also just maybe that Facebook and Google seem to be in competition with Facebook and Google+. So, where is the future of search?

Well, I think Google will always remain the king of search in the open internet, accessible to all. However, if the internet becomes more cliquey behind login gates like Facebook, and companies like Facebook succeed in literally “becoming the Internet” to many people then Google will certainly be in trouble. I personally prefer Google to Bing, but I use what works, and that is what Internet users will use as well. They will use whichever gives them the results they are looking for. We will probably continue to use Google for things like news and weather, where we want a professional report, but searching for a “good Chinese restaurant” or an “affordable tennis racket” we may have more search queries in Facebook because many internet users will value the opinion of their friends over that of strangers who publish their opinions on the web.

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