Is Social Media Hurting Search?

As Facebook prepares to launch its $5 billion IPO and turn scores of once humble members of Team Zuckerberg into millionaires and billionaires overnight, the whispering on the Web is that social media like Facebook and Twitter are killing Google, and search in general.

The reason for this speculation is simple: people are growing more accustomed to polling their growing networks of friends regarding their questions about X and Y rather than asking Google. The ease, addictiveness and entertaining nature of “frictionless sharing” is just more appealing to information seekers than interacting with a faceless search engine, say some tech pundits.

There are those that disagree, however, and they make a compelling argument. To say Google remains an Internet powerhouse is arguably an understatement. It’s true the company controls the lion’s share of the search market, but the real ace up Google’s sleeve is the introduction of Google+ and the search giant’s growing integration of Web products.

Although still in its infancy, Google+ is being touted by those in the know as the second generation of social media. Google’s ability to tie its social network to an ever-expanding phalanx of subsidiary entities and services, from Google Maps and Gmail to YouTube and Picasa, will likely redefine people’s understanding of a fully integrated Web experience.

And, redefining the way people use the Web is just the beginning for Google. The company’s acquisition of Motorola is setting the stage for it to wade into the market of hardware and it is rumored Google techs have been hard at work for more than a year developing an “entertainment device” that could result in Google’s physical presence in homes around the world in the near future.

Of course, an argument could be made that all of this is getting away from search and that Google’s evolution in these other areas is a tangent that stands apart from people’s relationship with the basic search function. Maybe, but a more comprehensive examination of the “fight” between social media and search must include Google’s expanding services, which are undoubtedly influenced by the algorithms that make it the king of search.

The increasing power of social media like Facebook and Twitter can’t be gainsaid, and analysts are surely correct that their growing presence will chip away at Google’s search market share; however, to even suggest that these entities are killing Google is nothing more than a passing meme that will soon be replaced by whatever is trending tomorrow in the ultra-fast, ultra-fickle world of social media.

This article was written by James Madeiros who writes for Sparkplug Digital, a Seattle SEO company offering SEO services for tech companies and startups.

Photo courtesy of Jon Fingas

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