Tag Archives: facebook

The Dark Future of Facebook Search

In the last few months Facebook has come out in the open about their own search offering, and if you are interested in trying it you can sign up for it. It’s an intriguing idea Graph search, but as numerous blogs and articles on the web quickly discovered, the results which are returned can be a little on the flaky side at times. You can even go so far as to somewhat toy with the search interface, and come up with some very unusual search settings as an example.

The service is still in its infancy, it has a lot of learning and lot of growing to do. One of the main complaints that has come up however, that has been consistent across all articles is the web search feature provided by Graph search is lacking. In fact, it’s lacking enough that it may as well be non-existent, so there were writers out there who had hoped that the service would improve over time. It seems that their prayers will go unanswered, for the time being at least, as Grady Burnett, VP of Global Marketing for Facebook said, in no uncertain terms there will be no external search engine. The actual quote from SMX West:

GB: I don’t see that happening. We called it “Graph Search” because we’re focused on letting people search the Facebook graph. So my answer would be no.

internetmapThere is going to be a handful of different responses to this message from the company, some will be cheering, others will be jeering of course, but those in the search industry who truly understand, won’t be surprised at all. When you consider all aspects of the internet, not just search and social, a picture will begin to form. This map obviously isn’t an exact replication of what the internet looks like, or how it’s divided, but it makes it easier to understand, and see why Zuckerberg, who built the largest social network in existence, isn’t worried about external search at the moment. There is so much more out there that isn’t Google or Bing or Yahoo to worry about, they’re only a fraction of what makes the web so massive.

Facebooks Fail Graph Search

fbIt hasn’t been new news for a while now, but the Facebook Graph search feature that is being tried and tested is slowly making it’s way to a live feature available to all. The massive social sharing site which has more than 900 million members has an unimaginably large data set to pull answers from, and allows you to search the interests, location, and preferences of your friends list. At it’s current state, it is the tail end of that statement which holds the most important piece of information – preferences and interests of your friends.

The implementation of Graph search is not a bad idea on paper, or in practice, it does have a long way to go however where you’re really searching for an answer. The best way to describe the service and what it offers was summed up here

For anyone who uses the Internet to search restaurant recommendations, travel advice, books to read on vacation, or which political candidates to vote for, Facebook may have replaced Google as the best search engine.

The veracity of the end of that statement is questionable at best, as Facebook Graph isn’t so much a search engine, as it delivers you a report of your friends opinions. The bonus is you can compile the information quickly, and in an easy to digest fashion that you can use to reach a decision on what you searched for.

The downsides however, have been slowly been coming more and more to light as more people are being allowed to use the service. For example, really searching for a person or topic, doesn’t happen with Facebook Graph at the moment, on the surface it seems that Facebook is using it’s algorithm to scrape statuses, updates and likes. The downside to that being, if you haven’t liked a page, commented on it or had a status update with the term in it, it is highly likely that you won’t show up for some of your interests within their search provider. I’ve not had the chance myself to try the service as it is in beta testing in the US only at the moment, but taking a snippet of information from other sources, it seems they have other issues as well. The image search doesn’t work as well as it potentially could due to most images not having a geo tag associated with them. The Facebook version of instant search goes a bit over the top by putting in elements of auto complete as well, by trying to anticipate what you’re looking for.

Facebook has an immense amount of data and power at it’s fingertips with their user base, but it isn’t a surprise to see them stumbling along in an area they are not suited for, search. It may be a strange thing to say, but I hope they improve and I hope they find a way to truly integrate the web into their service, Google is an incredibly powerful tool and everyone does just that much better when there is some real competition. Here’s hoping Facebook doesn’t drop the ball with Graph search, and the overall improvement of the web.

Facebook Search Likely To Be Cheated

When you perform a search with Google or Bing, one of the elements which allows a website to climb the results pages are the backlinks pointing to the site. When the links are from a similar site, which is related to the site they’ve provided a link for it tells the search engine that “even though we’re an authority, this other site is better than we are” type scenario. This is an extremely basic description of how the search engine results pages become filled with those little blue links, but Facebook search is going to try and do something a little different.

leverageFacebookFacebook isn’t necessarily concerning itself with virtual locations, they are wanting to focus on the real world version of a page. Instead of using a similar system of backlinks however, they will be going down the route of using a like system, using your friends list as a foundation. It’s a twist on a way to determine a search results page, and it’s going to have some interesting applications moving forward with some people having hundreds and thousands of friends.

A solid description of one of the goals of Facebook search that I came across was it can be considered a multi-dimensional search results page. If you have a vacation planned for Las Vegas for example, you would need a hotel to stay at and try to plan it around the shows and events you would want to enjoy. Performing the search on Google or Bing, will return you the pages that have typically the best SEO laid out based on your search terms. From there you would do more research until you made your decision. The goal of Facebook search and using the Like idea, is that when you perform the same search within their service, you instead get a results page populated with the results based on your friends feedback. Instead of your results being based on the best optimization team, it will be based on the experiences of your friends, and if they enjoyed their visit to a particular venue.

There is a great deal of discontent already for the way that SEO works, and a lot of speculation that the methods used are gaming the search engines and breaking and bending rules to cheat to rank. The system, while built on solid principles does have it’s flaws, but it works as it is implemented. When Facebook introduces it’s method of basing their results around a like and share system, at that point I believe we will truly see what it is like to game a results page.

Facebook Forcing Googles Hand

The new Facebook Graph search has a grip on the social world of course, being assisted on the web search by Bing. It doesn’t take but a few minutes of typing “Facebook Graph” into a search bar to find that there are more than a few people hailing the new service as taking the fight to Google. The information and the action of the new Facebook feature however, doesn’t have me convinced that Google has a whole lot to worry about.

facebookThe first part of the feature that struck me as a tad odd, was the introduction of using your social signals to deliver search results which have been tailored to suit you. Based on your friends activity and online postings, your search becomes filtered, delivering you only the topics and trends which apply to you. It places you within a search bubble, and there has been a growing outcry against Google delivering personalized results to people for the last year and a bit, so why the introduction of a Facebook search should suddenly change peoples opinions struck me a little odd.

They put together a convincing trailer about the graph search on their site, but the offering from Facebook left me rather unconvinced as to it’s full usefulness. With somewhere around a billion users, and with user profiles that are nearly five times in friend size (from 100 friends on average 5 years ago to 500 now), it seemed to me that the “searches” that were performed in the video, would have been questions you already knew the answers to. Regardless of the amount of friends you might have on your list in Facebook, you already know and can identify those nearest to you that share your interests. You don’t need to search for them or what they may like, because you already likely know.

One of the greatest advantages however to the introduction of a search service to Facebook, is the cost of advertising. Google has long been an incredibly dominant force in the web advertising space with its Adwords and Adsense programs, and depending on the terms you wanted to pursue your costs could climb rapidly. The ideal revenue model for the Facebook Graph search service would be the same idea, an advertising model that caters to what you may be searching for at the moment. And on the surface that may look like it spells doom for Google and the way it does business, but it is actually a very good thing. Competition drives creativity, it promotes change and spurs innovation. Google has always said they want people to enter the search space, and Facebook is working on it now. We’ll have to keep watch on it to see just how far it can go.

Is Facebook Dieing Or Evolving

Later today there is going to be an announcement, it’ll be a change to the way you conduct yourself online, and will likely affect your friends and family as well. Late yesterday I saw word of the impending news, and in just a few hours the tech world will get it’s answer, just what could Facebook have planned?

Zuckerberg-FB-pressThere’s been a lot of ideas thrown around about the future of Facebook, with discussions covering almost everything from phone hardware and/or software, to search engines. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Facebook is the largest social site on the web, and with somewhere near a billion members for a user base they have the potential market to influence massive online change. As for what option really makes sense for the company is anyones guess, but you can bet that there is going to be a massive audience tuning in for it.

Facebook likely won’t be going down the road of building their own phone, while the company has a strong digital presence, it wouldn’t likely translate into as strong an audience in the hardware market. A great option, and one that makes sense especially since they recently closed their purchase of Instagram, would be to add video support to the platform. It’s already globally accepted as a way to rapidly share the photos you take, it would make sense in a number of ways to offer the same feature to any videos that are taken. Not only would this allow Facebook to monetize any videos that are put up by placing ads in the stream, but it would give a reason for YouTube to possibly step up it’s game as well. It has been the dominant online video source for ever it seems.

And then there’s the elephant in the room, the question that has been asked of Zuckerberg and the Facebook machine a number of times – are you building a search engine. Other times when the question was pointedly asked, they have sometimes shied away from the question by avoiding it, and other times saying no, not yet. Perhaps today is the day, where Facebook announces their own search engine, driven entirely by social signals? Even if today is the day that Facebook does let loose with a new search engine, or even a coming one, the true effect of what that could do to the online scope is unknown. There would be a great deal of unknown territory, as a search engine driven by social signals would be prone to massive manipulation, both positive and negative. And with a user base of somewhere around a billion members, that’s a lot of leverage that can sway an algorithm one way or the other. The other question that could be asked, is what happens to those people who remove their accounts, either by deleting or deactivating them, what happens to their social links they may have bestowed? Over the last month in the UK there have been more than a half million accounts deleted from the social service, what would happen to a search service if a mass migration hit the site? So many unknown variables, stay tuned to the web in a few hours and the picture will begin to become clearer.

Facebook Search It’s Next Frontier

FacebookThe next frontier that Facebook needs to conquer is search. That would help it significantly expand revenues and, in turn, its market value. Search, I would say, is a very high priority for Facebook and may be the announcement due Tuesday might well be that. Facebook has this incredible treasure trove of unstructured data on the site, but can it finally put it to good use?

Research firm eMarketer estimates that Facebook, the No. 2 company in the U.S. mobile advertising market, had an 8.8 percent share last year —up from zero in 2011. That compared with No. 1 Google’s 56.6 percent. This year, Facebook is expected to grow its share to 12.2 percent, while remaining far behind Google, but we all know the real dollars is in search.

Facebook’ biggest challenge however and potentially its most lucrative opportunity, a chance to topple Google as the king of search. Will that ever happen?

Is Facebook Selling You Out?

fbWhen you’re busy at your computer, or even just taking some downtime and cruising around on Facebook connecting with your friends and family, have you ever wondered how the one of the two largest online properties continue to operate? They offer their services for free access, and you don’t even need to sign up to use it, at least in Googles case. If you’ve found that when you think about it, you really don’t know where their money comes from, you’re not alone.

In a survey conducted in August of last year it turns out that just over a third of internet users out there believe that search engines sell their data to marketers. Another third thought that maybe other companies pay annual dues to use those websites and even 20% of respondents thought that the sites offered premium features. While Google is somewhat transparent about how they make their dough, adwords and ad placements via adsense, Facebook is still working on fleshing out a clear revenue model. They have ads that are on every sidebar and profile page on the site, but with metrics showing that interaction on those ads being rather low, and with costs still high, it hadn’t fleshed out as reliable as of yet. At least in Googles court they’re not selling your information to marketers, still haven’t seen a clear answer from the Facebook side of the web however.

It’s been a number of years now, I think most who work full time on the web have stopped counting, but Google is the dominant force in the search world. Globally rocking somewhere around an 80% share with desktop users and where mobile is concerned, there really isn’t anyone else in the game. It’s no wonder that with the way the last year has gone with Panda/Penguin updates that some businesses have found themselves floundering, as it looks like they put all of their eggs into one, big, Google basket. Most analytic software can tell you where your traffic came from, whether it be Google, Bing, Facebook, or even from a referral link of sorts from a community driven site like Reddit. Using that information you can build a chart of sorts to get an idea of where your traffic is coming from. It’s likely you’ll find that a high percentage of your traffic, 65% and up does indeed come from Google, but if it starts getting higher than that you need to take a look at your website, and about diversifying your online position. In an ideal world, you’ll be getting almost an equal share of traffic from different sites, with Google making up the largest portion of the pie, say 50% or so, and the rest from other online sources. Because just like those who found themselves at the mercy of Panda and Penguin, if you’re relying too heavily on Google traffic, you’ll be in the dumps if you break any rules.

SEO Predictions for 2013

As always at this time of year we give our predictions for SEO for the following year, this year we have gathered some help from our friends & other search experts in the field who have given there twist on things to come.

In 2013, the SEO Role must go above and beyond. For example, a basic SEO strategy would obviously include some amount of reporting (for keyword rankings and traffic numbers at the least); however, I find myself analyzing the data to help my client better understand their demographic. Where are visitors accessing the site from, when do they access the site, and what are they specifically looking for when they are on the site?
All of these questions—and more—are in hopes of helping them identify new ways to effectively reach their customer base and ultimately make them more successful. It is SEO’s job to provide meaningful help.

Rand says links and rankings are just means to an end, not the end itself.

What clients really want is not better rankings and more links; they want to make more money.

The SEOs who understood and understand where Google is going and what their clients really want are the ones who are still in business and doing well. For them, the job of a SEO is content relevancy (public relations), user experience, web design, conversions, traffic segmentation, call tracking, research, writing, and anything else that sells products and services and leads to more profits for the client not just short-term, but long-term as well.

Most of all, the job of an SEO is to see the future. Those who can’t will go out of business and take their clients with them.

In conclusion, each of these experts—coming from multiple perspectives–agree that SEO will become a much broader and more complex function in 2013. Yet it will also become more vital than ever before, as it converges with every variety of online presence and marketing.

 

SEO 2013 predictions
SEO 2013 predictions

 

 

 

 

More Facebook Search

Previously I mentioned how Zuckerberg was being tapped for information about a possible Facebook search engine, and while he admitted to serving something on the order of a billion searches per day, he wouldn’t admit to there being an engine on the way. It seems this week, that there is still a smattering of discussion still trying to discerne if there is a social search engine on the horizon.

There is a strong belief in the social circle, that the search industry is headed towards a results page which is served based on your friends list. There has been the odd study every few months which seem about as skewed as the recent BingItOn (citing 2:1 Bing over Google acceptance) challenge which are overwhelmingly in favor of a social engine as opposed to a search engine. It’s only my personal opinion, but I think Google and Bing are already headed in the right direciton, with having some social signals being included into the organic and paid results. If someone were to build an engine served entirely by social signals, the only one in the space who could feasibly pull it off would obviously be Facebook, however their reasons for being tight lipped about the possibility of one launching is likely due to the studies being not entirely as accurate as the media would have you believe. As always, time will tell, and change is a very good thing.

Jabber, Jabber, Jabber

There is always a positive side, and a negative side to having someone else complete work for you. On the positive, you are paying a professional to complete a job at a much higher skill level than you could. A negative however, stems from the fact that you are time constrained suddenly, not by your own, but by the professional you have hired.

There is no real way to speed up the process of properly completing a project once you have turned it over to someone else. Just like you bring a car to a mechanic to fix your engine, you bring it to an autobody business to have it repainted. You wouldn’t ask a mechanic to paint it, it’s not their job nor are they proficient at it. In the same line of thinking, when it’s required for your SEO to work through your tech department, mandatory steps can end up taking a day or two, and (we have had ths happen) sometimes up to two weeks. This is an immense amount of time to lose on any campaign, whether it’s a single day or 10 days, it’s time lost in search. It’s akin to bringing your car in for a paint job, but having all of the instructions relayed through the mechanic, to the autobody technician.

Communication is an incredibly important step in the optimization process, and it works in all directions. Just as it’s important for a client to relay desired keyword position, it’s important that as SEO professionals we regularly communicate with you to keep you apprised of how you are performing. When the communication stops, that’s when the problems begin.

Facebook Search Engine on the Horizon?

It’s been long clear that a search engine is a search engine, and there are a handful online that receive the majority of the traffic out there. Google, Bing and Yahoo are the usual methods which are used to search, with other sites like Blekko, Duckduckgo, and Ask also being used by those desiring a different experience. Facebook however, is one of the largest websites online, and with what is approaching a billion users, the world has been waiting to see if Facebook is going to try and enter the search arena.

Ever since Facebook has gone public, the stock has been a sort of tepid pool, with no real revenue model the online mutterings often go to the topic of a search engine. And when Mark Zuckerberg throws around statements akin to “Facebook is doing a billion searches per day without trying” the mutterings pick up some volume. In a recent Techcrunch interview, Zuck made it clear that the company realizes that there is a huge opportunity for a search engine with Facebook, but tempers that by also talking about how the way that users search is ever evolving.

“Search engines are evolving” to “giving you a set of answers,” Zuckerberg said. ”Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of questions people have. At some point we’ll do it,” he went on. “We have a team working on search.”

There are some real concerns about just how Facebook could leverage their massive user base as a search engine however, and it has less to do with spidering capabilities than it does privacy. The system as he briefly described and envisioned, would mean taking the opinions of your friends, family and contacts and trying to form a result for your query. Searching for terms like ‘best burger’ or ‘new batman movie reviews’ wouldn’t necessarily be informational, but would deliver you a list of opinions from your contact list. At any rate, it’s not happening today or tomorrow, or even soon for that matter. But (if) when it does, it will be introducing change into the search landscape and the online experience as a whole, and change is very, very good.