Facebook has come out with a new model that could be set to rock the search engine industry, in particular Google, who has dominated the search space for many years now. Still in its infancy, Facebook is heading towards expanding its social network platform to include more search engine functionality as a core aspect of the site.

How does the Facebook “Search Engine” Model work?

The Facebook ‘Like’ function is central to this model. Instead of having a restricted internal search ability to only find Facebook profiles and groups, this model enables external content from outside of Facebook to be included in Facebook search results. Based on the Open Graph protocol, the model will count how many people ‘Like’ an article or page on a website. So the greater the number of ‘Likes’, the higher the rank, and the more it will be exposed through Facebook search. Sound familiar? This method is one of the core algorithmic methods Google have used since the inception of their search engine in September 1998 through to the current day and has proved hugely successful for them. However rather than Facebook ‘Likes’, Google have based it all on link popularity. So those who don’t yet have a blog or have not implemented Facebook ‘Like’ badges on their websites –should really consider it. This will help extend a websites content reach as not only will Facebook users find Facebook related information, they will also find related search information from the general internet.

A Challenge to Google

As a social networking site, it seems Facebook is evolving more as an intelligent platform where users can utilise their search facility to look up for any relevant information, and of course keep people from leaving facebook to use other websites to find the information they are searching for. According to comScore in August 2010 internet users spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook, while Google and Yahoo users spent 39.8 million and 37.7 million minutes, respectively. With Facebook surpassing Google usage last month (and in recent previous months), this is a good indication of Facebook’s potential to successfully become the dominant choice of search engine. The competitive advantage Facebook has over Google for example, is their ability to make specific articles, blog posts, any website page- spread virally. Like word-of-mouth, these results will play a very influential role as they have been recommended by other friends and contacts, versus stumbling upon it organically in search results. If Facebook can successfully promote their search feature, and provide results that match users needs, why would Facebook users want to step out of Facebook to use a different search engine to find what they are looking for?

Should Google be worried?

Well we’ll see. One thing we have seen about Google is their ability to evolve and adapt to their users needs, keeping ahead of all others in the search space. With Google Me soon to appear, this could be the answer to Google stabilising their dominance for a little while longer. Not yet launched, Google Me will introduce what Google calls “a social layer” that will weave social networking elements to its services. Leaked information indicates “it will produce an activity stream generated by all Google products, and that Google Buzz has been rewritten to be the host of it all”. Keep a lookout on the further developments in the battle of these internet giants. So will you be using Facebook as a search engine? If you're not utilising the power of Facebook Search for your business, visit our social media packages page to find out about the features available to your business to help benefit you with Facebook Search.