On Tuesday, Facebook announced Graph Search, an upcoming feature enabling users to sort through anything shared on the site. The move is a direct action against one of their most criticized components, as their search had previously been inaccurate in some instances and completely useless in others. Now, users will be able to search through posts, photos and engagements to find like-minded people, restaurant recommendations, potential job connections and more.
The new feature leads many to believe that Google should be shaking in their boots with fear of being dethroned as search King. When you really look at the new functionality, however, it’s clear that Google will be just fine. Remember that web searching is an habitual thing these days – when your friend asks you what year John Stamos was born, you type it into your web browser, and more often than not, the default engine is Google. People aren’t going to start logging on to Facebook for quick search queries, especially not when you consider how limited Graph Search really is. Sure, Facebook can tell you what bands your friends like, but what if you need to know the capital of Djibouti (hint, it’s Djibouti)? Google will still be the king of research, be it trivial or academic.
Also consider that the Google empire is more than a search bar now. Their suite of apps and services aren’t being challenged by Facebook, which is part of the reason their market cap is about four times the size.
Yelp, however, should be concerned.
Yelp was built on a simple idea – you trust people more than you trust business when it comes to choosing where to visit, shop and eat. Well Facebook is about to take that game and go pro, since you trust your friends more than you trust any other people. Searching for eateries, barbers, gyms and whatever else will pry one away from their computer is going to be made easy by Graph Search, and with all the traffic Facebook already commands, Yelp is sure to lose some patronage.
Like everyone else, I’m curious to see how Graph Search pans out, and of course how it’s monetized. Like everything Facebook does, this is going to change consumer behavior, but when I needed to find out what the Facebook announcement was, I Googled it, and that behavior isn’t going to change.