Google's search engine has begun crawling and indexing Facebook's mobile application under a surprising partnership between the Internet rivals.
Individuals conducting searches from mobile devices using Google will get some content from Facebook, including public profile data, served up in the results. Users who click on the links in these listings will be taken directly to the content in the Facebook native app, according to a Nov. 16 report in The Wall Street Journal, which cited a Google spokeswoman.
The agreement between the two companies also gives Google access to content in Facebook's Pages, Groups and Events listings. However, content shared between Facebook users while logged in will continue to remain out of bounds for Google's Web crawlers, The Journal said.
Google did not respond immediately to an eWEEK request seeking more information on the data arrangement.
The partnership apparently is part of an effort by Google to keep its mobile search content as fresh and relevant as possible by including content from social media apps. It builds on an existing agreement between the two companies that allows Google to index some Facebook user information and comments.
"The latest evolution will allow searches affected on mobile devices to launch the link directly in the Facebook native app, rather than its inferior Website within a mobile browser," Edison Investment Research analyst Richard Windsor said in a research note Monday.
The arrangement is a win for both companies, Windsor said. For Google and its users, the data sharing should help improve the mobile experience and result in more searches. In the meantime, Facebook should benefit from improved content discovery and increased traffic to its site from users following links in Google search results, he noted.
However, over the longer term, the relationship could begin to fray as Facebook starts getting into areas like gaming, search and digital assistants, Windsor said. Such an expansion would increase the competition between the two companies.
According to Windsor, Facebook's eventual goal to increase revenues by threefold or fourfold cannot happen without the company eroding Google's market share. As that begins to happen, the data-sharing agreement will cease, he predicted.
This is not the first time that Google has sought to add relevancy and immediacy to search results by tapping data from social media networks. Earlier this year, Google entered into a partnership with Twitter to make real-time tweets available in search. Engineers from both companies are working on enabling the capability.
That agreement basically revived a 2009 arrangement between the two companies that allowed Google to serve up real-time content from Twitter.
Over the years, Google has had similar arrangements with others, as well, including FriendFeed, Myspace and Jaiku. Google has previously noted that its goal is to enable a real-time search capability powered by live data streams from a variety of different sources, including social media networks like Facebook.
Google's latest arrangement with Facebook is focused entirely on the mobile environment, where the company has been trying to convince app developers to let its Web crawlers inside their apps. Facebook's cooperation is a sign that Google is succeeding, The Journal noted in its report.