Google indexes every web page on the internet using a crawler that scans the contents of each site. When you use Google to search for something you often receive millions of results. Its too much information to process so the search results are presented in order of what Google thinks will be most relevant to us. They use our IP address to determine our location and then figure out what most other people in that area clicked on after doing the same search.
Most users rarely click beyond the first page. For years, websites have been vying for the top positions through search engine optimization. Google makes money by selling featured space at the top of search results.
Facebook have created the ‘Like’ button that can be installed on other websites. When a website owner adds the necessary code, they are effectively indexing their content for Facebook. When a Facebook user clicks ‘Like’ on a third party website, their friends see it in news feeds.
Now friends also see it when they use the Facebook search box.
Social search results are far more relevant. Humans tend to surround ourselves with people who are similar to ourselves. The content my friends are interested in is nearly always going to be more relevant than what the general population likes.
Google has realized this and are now displaying some social search results.
The only social network that Google have in which to base the social search results is their ‘Buzz’ and other open social networks, like Twitter. Facebook now has 571.5 million active users. The ‘Like’ button was installed on 350,000 websites as of July 2010. According to Social Beat, Facebook is serving up to 3 billion Like button clicks per day.
Can Google really compete with Facebook on social search or is it a case of too little too late?