Facebook’s Graph Search and Google+ for Social: Does One Have to Prevail?

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New Picture Facebook and Google have been seen as separate online necessities for quite some time, but it seems as though both companies are beginning to close that gap. Facebook is becoming more search oriented with the announcement of the Facebook Graph (currently in Beta testing), and Google is becoming more socially oriented as Google+ begins to have more and more of an influence of individual search results.

Although Facebook is coming from the very “social” end of the things and Google is coming from the very “search” end of things, it is clear that both are coming closer and closer together in what looks like one common goal—creating something that dominates both search AND social.

This leads many to wonder: Is this going to be a matter of who gets to the middle first, or will Google and Facebook always remain in their designated realms, unable to truly compete with the other?

The Differences Between Both Facebook and Google’s Advances

The biggest difference between the two is the type of searches that will be successful. When it comes to the Facebook Graph search (which you can learn all about in my SEM-Group article here), you can’t really search for general things.

If I wanted to know “How to setup a WordPress blog,” the Facebook search simply isn’t going to have the answer. The Facebook search will still only be good for certain searches such as: Restaurants, both specific and location based, location advice such as where to go and what to do, general companies that someone might “like;” essentially, any search that is centered around friends and the information they provide on Facebook is going to be valid for the new feature.

Below is a video from CNET that explains how the new feature will work:

On that same note, Google isn’t going to be the best when it comes to searching for similarities between your friends. Although Google+ might bring articles your Google+ friends have +1’ed to the top of your Google results page, it’s tough to search specifically for advice from your friends (not to mention Google+ doesn’t have the kind of information Facebook does in terms of your connections and friends).

When I typed “places my friends like to eat” into Google+ this is the page that I got:

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As you can see, this isn’t quite as advanced or accurate as some of the search results you would get from Facebook (as shown in the video above). The moral of the story: It’s what you search for that really makes a difference. The two are a long way from closing this gap.

So Who Will Win the Fight for Social AND Search?

So, the answer to the question posed above? Unfortunately, there really isn’t one clear-cut answer. It makes sense that people are going to be stuck on Facebook for social and stuck on Google for search because it is familiar, but Web users have surprised us in the past.

Both Google and Facebook have been able to remain ahead of their rivals in their own realms, but the time to blur these lines has finally come. It seems as though we have an even match here, as far away as they both may be from meeting in the middle.

I personally believe that Facebook Graph search won’t be very big (much like their BranchOut attempt) and Google+ will continue to be used for business-social networking purposes. If I had to choose one of the other, my bets go to Google because search gets less repetitive than social, and therefore I think people hold on to their search engines longer and stronger than their social networks.

What do you think about the closing gap between Google and Facebook? Could you see this being a potential fight in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: antiworldnews.wordpress.com

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a... Read Full Bio
Amanda DiSilvestro
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  • Great article Amanda! I think the answer to your question really depends on Google’s ability to position G+ as a real competitor to Facebook. As you mention, right now it’s getting a lot of traction in relation to business use, but if they can expand that out into personal use as well I think that’s when Facebook will have some serious cause for concern. I can’t see that happening with the current G+, but Google have a massive audience so if they found a way to integrate with say their YouTube audience for example, we could see big changes happen very quickly.

  • Great Article! good to know what’s coming in both search and social. I think you’re correct by saying google+ is better for business connections…facebook really is for trash posts most of the time.. I think that as long as we have choices, we’ll still use facebook for one thing and google(plus) for the other.

  • Thanks for reading! I think you both are right–it really all depends upon what Google+ can do with personal use. It doesn’t seem like Facebook is really trying to compete with Google exactly, so this whole question is really based on Google+. Until then, we’ll probably continue to use them both separately no matter how much the gap may seem to close.

    • This is right on…it drives me crazy when people talk about Facebook creating a search engine to compete with Google. That’s madness, and I don’t think that’s what they want to do at all. As big as Facebook is, just the logistics of what Google does from a data center pov would be prohibitive to Facebook.

  • Thanks for this post! I don’t feel either company will truly close the gap effectively. They are both very good at what they do within their own space. Although they can play in one another’s territory, I don’t think either company is capable of beating the other in their own game. I do think there is opportunity for both of them to fight for positioning in the future with their own interpretations to search and social though.

  • I think you’re exactly right Erika–both are very good at what they do, and people seem content with using the two different sites for two different things. These two companies may not even be TRYING to close the gap, it just seemed like they were heading in that direction. Thanks for reading!

  • Just depends – Facebook has the Users and their interests based on what they choose is relevant to follow. Google has the knowledge base for users to find information. The major problem is which one will choose the right information that the end user is looking for based on relevancy. With Facebook now entering the “Local SEO” market through their “Nearby” or whatever it is they are calling it these days. With Google+ Local you can optimize your business through citations. I still think the secret sauce is in ranking content organically through either Social Platform.