In a world where more and more people use apps for just about everything, Google has struggled to keep its ground-breaking search engine relevant. It now has gotten a boost from an unlikely source – Facebook.
As reported by a spokesperson for Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, Facebook Inc. – operator of the largest social network in the world – began on Friday to allow Google to “crawl and index” the Facebook app.
The agreement reached by the two Internet juggernauts means that results found via Google searches on smartphones will now display a set amount of content from Facebook’s app. The content will appear as “deep links” that will direct users to the relevant section of the Facebook app.
This process is very similar to how Google currently indexes information from publicly accessible Facebook profiles posted on the Web. But Google now has access to content such as Groups, Events and business listings called Pages.
Google is still locked out of most information found in Facebook’s social network as Google cannot show search content shared through private and logged-in Facebook app “sessions.” In order to conduct Google-type searches while logged into the mobile app, Facebook users will have to use the recently updated Facebook search service.
Facebook’s agreement to work with Google is an indication that Google is making progress in confronting a major challenge – allowing users to search via Google while inside apps. While Google is still the dominant search engine on the Internet, its servers cannot automatically “crawl” and index the information inside of apps, where smartphone users are increasingly spending the majority of their time.
In order to do this, it must persuade the owners of those apps to allow it to look inside.
Chris Maddern, co-founder of mobile-app discovery startup Button, notes that, “In mobile, [Google’s] position as the online starting point is at risk. If people lose faith that they will find things they need by searching on Google, that’s bad for the company. Anything Google can do to maintain that position is good.”
The agreement with Google must benefit Facebook somehow. A spokesperson for the company stated that, “When people search for public Facebook content on the mobile web, those who use Facebook for Android can now click through and go straight to the Facebook app.”