Does Google Plus' Latest Move Harm Or Help Facebook?

By David Cohen Comment

Google took the latest shot in its battle with Facebook by adding results from its Google Plus social network and Picasa photo-sharing service to its search-engine results.

When Google Plus and Picasa users plug a query into the Google search engine, results will include posts on the topic from Google Plus contacts, as well as related photos from Google Plus or Picasa.

And when searching for individual names, if that person is a Google Plus contact, their profile on the social network will be featured.

Google began adding Facebook content to search results last February, including indexing groups on the social network.

On the other hand, when announcing further social integration into its search engine in February 2011, Google would not mention Facebook specifically, perhaps due to Google Plus being in the works for release later that year.

Google Director of Search Product Management Jack Menzel told Wired Epicenter at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:

One of the signals that we haven’t taken as much advantage of as we should have is that all of (our search results) were written by people. And you, the searcher, are a unique person, looking for info specifically relevant to you.

Search is the foundation behind Google, and the company appears to be using its strongest offering to prop up its fledgling social network. But to what end?

According to Google+ News, Google Plus had some 49 million users in the United States last month (global figures were not available), while Facebook has more than 800 million worldwide members.

While the inclusion of Google Plus content in search results is unlikely to significantly carve into that gap, Ben Parr shared an interesting theory: Google Plus may be aiming to establish itself as the clear number one to Facebook if the number one social network begins to decline.

Epicenter also pointed out a potential issue with including Google Plus content in Google search results: If a user sees the same content from its original source and from a Google Plus contact, and chooses to click on the latter, the original content source runs the risk of losing impressions, clicks, and, eventually, revenue.

Readers: Do you think Google’s latest search enhancements will have any impact on Facebook?