Google’s New Social Search Is A Big Chess Move Against Facebook

Web search, real-time search and social search. That’s a pretty compelling combination and it’s what both Google and Facebook put on the table today in a head-to-head competiton. Google’s Marissa Mayer did a short, surprise demo today of an experimental Google feature called Social Search but don’t mistake the understated announcement to mean this was a small move. The Web 2.0 Summit today has been jam packed with very big search moves.

Both companies are hoping you’ll come to their sites to search for what you’re looking for, what people are saying about that topic and what your friends think. Microsoft is very much in the game, too. Here are some things to consider in this search war. It’s a new fight – now including the real-time, social web!

The following is our attempt to piece all of this together, but the war rooms of each of these companies are no doubt buzzing trying to put together and understand the same details and more.

Google’s new Social Search will allow users to opt-in to having search results from content created by their friends on social networks around the web included in Google search results. Those friend connections could come from any number of sites that you and your friends have listed in your Google Profiles – but it won’t include Facebook. That means it won’t include very much, unless Twitter and Google Profiles become a lot more integrated.

Microsoft announced today that Facebook status messages and other content from Facebook users with public profiles will soon appear in Bing search results. That’s a huge change for Facebook. Bing also announced Twitter search integration, which is live now.

Google announced a deal with Twitter today as well. So Bing has Facebook and Twitter. Facebook has Bing-powered web search. Google just has Twitter, no Facebook search.

Right now Twitter search is probably much bigger than Facebook (unless you’re Facebook serving logged-in users), because only a tiny portion of the much larger number of Facebook users have opted-in to making their Facebook activity public. But Facebook has an explicit agenda to change that. One reason for that is that more public Facebook activity makes deals like the one it made with Bing today much more valuable.

More now than ever, Google needs Twitter data to combat Facebook’s social dominance – Facebook is five to ten times as big as Twitter today.

Microsoft would rather you did all your searching from Bing but it does own a meaningful portion of Facebook. You can bet it wishes it owned more.

No one is set to be the clear winner here, but with far more social activity and a multi-layered partnership with the first qualified web-search challenger to Google in years (Bing) Facebook may in fact have the strongest hand.

It’s going to be a wild ride and big moves are being made right now.

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