GeekWire Podcast: Can Facebook really challenge Google in online search?

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It was a busy week in the world of Internet search, thanks in large part to Facebook, and we’re pleased to be joined on the GeekWire radio show and podcast by industry veteran Vanessa Fox to help sort it all out. Vanessa created Google Webmaster Central during her tenure with the search giant, and has gone on to start her own search analytics and consulting company, Nine by Blue. She’s also the author of the book, Marketing in the Age of Google.

Vanessa Fox

We kick off the discussion (starting at 8:00 in the player above) by asking Vanessa about the implications of Facebook’s new Graph Search feature. One of the big questions on our minds: Can Facebook replace part of the role that Google plays in Internet search?

“If you really think about what people use search engines for, it’s to accomplish a task of some kind, normally,” Vanessa says. “For that type of thing, people are still going to be going to Google. That’s the habit that they have. We are sort of on autopilot. When we think, ‘I want to buy a TV,’ we still think to do a (Google) search. We don’t so far think, ‘Oh, I’ll go to Facebook and search for TVs there, because maybe people I know have talked about the TVs.”

She adds, “We may get there eventually, but right now, that’s just not our automatic response.”

As a counter-example, I bring up my own personal exception, Yelp, which is my preferred method of finding service providers, because of the built-in review and ratings system. Vanessa points out that, in some ways, Facebook search faces a challenge vs. the likes of Yelp or TripAdvisor because the social network is limited to showing us items shared by our friends or by others within the confines of Facebook’s privacy settings.

That discussion begins at 8:00 in the audio player above. We also talk about Vanessa’s company, Nine by Blue; and other trends in the world of Internet search and social media.

The show starts with our weekly news roundup, in which we discuss the expansion of the Pathjoy maid service to Seattle; the significant progress being made by Seattle-area startup Innovega in the area of augmented-reality glasses; and Amazon’s latest attempt to attract iPhone and iPod users to its MP3 service, while sidestepping Apple in the process.

App of the Week: Taxi Turvi for iPhone.

Name that Tech Tune: Chance to win GeekWire Meetup tickets.

Listen to the show above or access it directly via this MP3 file.

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