The Future of Facebook as a Search Engine Pioneer
Since May 18th 2012, Facebook has been having a bit of a hard time. With the company being floated on the NASDAQ at an initial starting price of $38 a share and now, 5 months later, the share price has halved in value, it is fair to say that shareholders are becoming slightly worried.
There has also been a big blow with the fall of Zynga, the game application developers, whose share price has been in free-fall. Zynga contributed to 12% of Facebook’s revenue within 2011 and bearing in mind that almost 80% of Facebook’s revenue currently comes from advertising, the future isn’t looking too great for the social giants.
The Facebook Search Engine
Mark Zuckerberg has openly talked about the possibilities of Facebook creating a search engine to compete with the likes of Google. He was quoted when speaking with TechCrunch saying the following:
“Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer the questions people have. At some point we’ll do it. We have a team working on it.”
It certainly seems like Facebook are trying to diversify their revenue streams and, if successful, it could be incredibly lucrative for them. As Zuckerberg has said, Facebook are in a very unique position to be able to answer search queries from users. With a huge database of semantic information around the interests, preferences and habits of their users, online search as we know it has the potential to be completely revolutionised.
Whilst Google seem to be trying to make an impact on social media with their Google+ platform, it would seem that for Facebook to venture into search would be the next logical step. Facebook already has 1 billion searches made on their social networking website every day and, with an added emphasis on search Facebook could easily increase this.
The Future of Search Engine Optimisation
One area that would be impacted greatly by the decision of Facebook making a search engine would be the way in which we optimise our websites to appear high in the search rankings. One of the assumptions that we could make toward the dynamics of the Facebook search engine is that it will be heavily focused on bringing relevance to the user that is searching. This could be through their friends recommending results or finding related things that the user ‘Likes’ to offer search results that are tailored the individual user. From an SEO point of view, this turns traditional search methods on its head, which if you are able to take advantage of, could be fantastic.
Obviously we can only speculate to how the search engine would work at the moment, however, I believe that the likes of Open Graph data will become an absolute necessity to websites, very much in the way that basic meta data is now. Search could be focused around targeting specific users relevant to your website in the same way that Facebook advertising works. If this is the case, analysis could become very tricky indeed! Having said that, the opportunity to target and segment your search audience could provide huge rewards.
The Year Ahead
2013 should be a very interesting year for Facebook and one that I’m sure will be full of changes. The pressure on the company to become less reliant on their advertising revenue is mounting up and, with the inevitable loss of revenue from Zynga, Facebook need to do something. With the introduction of a Facebook search engine though, shareholder could maybe have something to smile about again.