Or will the search engines kill themselves?
The Washington Post reported today that Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, and Google will start crawling Twitter posts. Microsoft’s Bing adds Twitter search (update: Google will too) Bing is also getting into Facebook and Google’s scrambling to strike its own deal.
What does this mean for search results?
Well, if anyone’s tried to find anything using Twitter’s search, you know that it’s not the greatest in the world. Bing’s results will display not only the tweet, but the domain names of any links, making it easier to decide if you want to click or not. Bing promises to apply its own search ranking techniques to improve results, meaning that if you’re looking for specific tweets, Bing or Google may be the place to look for them, but only for the last seven days. Beyond that, tweets will be flushed from the index.
In the Washington Post test, the results were able to attribute the author’s last two tweets to him, despite one of them not containing his name. Bing pulled that information from the link.
The Facebook integration is set to be added at an undisclosed later date, but anyone with a Facebook account, might have seen the gray pop-up announcing the deal, and there’s been a slight modification to the security options screen. This appears to be a rolling upgrade so if you haven’t seen it yet, you will soon.
The upcoming Facebook integration means that you really need to reset your security. Whereas Twitter never made any pretenses of privacy for your Tweets (blasting to the world was the point of it), Facebook, with its intricate web of networked friends, did promise at least a nominal level or privacy for posts. We’ll have to see how much of that insulating layer is stripped away, but I do recommend that you review your security settings and think twice before posting ridiculously personal information in the future.
Will it be good for Twitter or Facebook?
If you thought the spam was bad before look out! Integration into the search engines means that hungry, economy-beaten businesses are going to hammer the two mediums even harder in a desperate bid for free advertising and attempts to improve their search rankings. If precautions aren’t taken, this could be the death of Twitter. With so much marginally relevant information to wade through, the real tweets may get lost. We’ll have to see how well Twitter, Bing, and Google handle the influx. Facebook’s link-centric structure may provide it with some protection, just be careful who you friend.
Will it be good for Google and Bing?
Maybe, but the addition of Tweets and Facebook posts to the search rankings and results may render the services obsolete. We’ve already seen a move back toward human-recommended sites like Yahoo’s Everything and AOL’s Directory. Before the existence of web crawlers, human beings recommended sites with good content and those were indexed by people. The rise of social bookmarking sites as well as Twitter-recommended links is a throw-back to BG (before Google) and a result of spam-influenced and less-useful results on the big search engines.
The addition of tweets and Facebook may skew the results the the point where the search engines lose their usefulness completely. We’ll see how effective their spam-filters are, but spam aside, it could end up being that whichever company tweets the loudest will dominate the results. Either way, the engines need to watch it.
Twitter and Facebook on Bing and Google a good thing?
Who knows, maybe it’ll be good for all involved, but one thing’s sure and that’s change is a huge part of the web. Those businesses that can adapt to the change will come out on top. Google and Bing (Microsoft) are big, and large machines don’t tend to bob and weave like smaller machines can. We’ll see.