Is Facebook becoming the new Google?

3 Henry Kingston

Image of Facebook in the style of Google's LogoThanks to The Social Network film most people know how Facebook started, however if you don’t the short story is that a group of college students created the now infamous social media platform in order to connect their student body. Facebook was therefore created by the young for the young, and for years this remained marginally true.

However, as always, when money gets involved things change. Not only did it cause a number of arguments between Mark Zuckerberg and the other original creators of Facebook, but it also changed the way that Facebook was made available to users. The same is true for another well-known brand that has completely changed its personality over the past fifteen years: Google.

In fact, there are some striking similarities between the ways in which Facebook are changing and how Google has changed over the years. Don’t believe us? Read on…

Tracking and Storing User Information

It’s best to think of both Google and Facebook as fluid and ever evolving websites. In fact, webmasters should follow their example, as by updating and optimising your website on a regular basis you can improve user experience and visitor flow. Even though the whole world seems to go mad when Facebook or Google changes their design, the truth is it’s usually done to try and improve user experience.

However, recent reports have shown that Facebook’s updates and tests may not be as harmless as we think. In fact, Facebook has admitted that they have been ‘testing’ users by manipulating their news feeds in order to show negative stories. Google has also been slammed by users in the past for not making clear how much information they provide to webmasters, which is why both are now thought of as ‘Big Brothers’ of the Internet.

Focussing on Value

Since the Panda and Penguin updates all digital markers know that in order to rank highly in Google’s SERPs your website needs to provide value to users. This can be in the form of information, entertainment or even share-ability, however if Google doesn’t think that your website is good enough you will never make it to the first page.

Recently, Facebook announced that they would no longer be allowing ‘like-gating’ – encouraging users to like your page in return for something, such as the ability to enter a sweepstakes. A few months before this they announced that ‘share-gating’ would also be banned. Instead, Facebook wants you to create content that will naturally encourage users to like your page or share your posts – a position very similar to Google’s.

Introducing Paid Adverts

Take a large enough group of people and put them in one place and you are guaranteed that advertisers will want to place their products there. Once Google realised this they started offering paid advertisements which would be placed at the top of their SERPs. Facebook has done the same by offering advertisers the ability to show their adverts in news feeds and columns. However, this isn’t where the similarity ends.

Even though both companies claim that in order to rank highly or gain engagement from a large amount of users you need to provide valuable content, if you pay them they will be more than happy to display your adverts and encourage users to visit/like your content. So what are both companies trying to say? If you want likes/visits then you’re going to have to pay for them.

It’s not wholly surprising that Facebook is becoming more like Google as Google is one of the most successful websites in the world. Furthermore, since the company was floated on the stock market its main focus has been to keep the majority shareholders happy, which means pushing paid campaigns as much as possible and reducing the ways in which digital marketers can wield their services for free.