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New Facebook Search Engine In The Works, Should Google Worry?

The real Search Plus Your World?

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It looks like Facebook is finally taking search more seriously. The company is reportedly working overtime on improving its own search feature, which leads us to wonder if it may even have something bigger up its sleeve. We’ve written about the major opportunities Facebook has to make a big play in the search engine market and go head-to-head with Google several times in the past, and this news does very little to convince us this is not a possibility.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that something like 24 Facebook engineers are working on “an improved search engine,” and the effort is being led by former Googler Lars Rasmussen. Interestingly enough, while I was working on this article I happened to get an email from a Googler pointing the report out to me. They didn’t say as much, but Google no doubt wants more attention brought to the fact that other major web entities have opportunities to compete with them. The EU is expected to make a decision in an antitrust investigation into Google as soon as after Easter.

Should Facebook create a full-on search engine to compete with Google? Let us know what you think.

Bloomberg cites “two people familiar with the project” as providers of this info. Presumably they are from Facebook itself, as the report says they didn’t want to be named because Facebook is in its pre-IPO quiet period. “The goal, they say, is to help users better sift through the volume of content that members create on the site, such as status updates, and the articles, videos, and other information across the Web that people “like” using Facebook’s omnipresent thumbs-up button,” the report, co-authored by Douglas MacMillan and Brad Stone, says. Emphasis added.

That last part is particularly interesting, but more on that later.

Facebook’s Search Feature

If you use Facebook (and given that Facebook has over 800 million users, there’s a good chance you do), you probably know that its search feature isn’t the greatest or most efficient tool for finding information. Sure, there are plenty of options to refine your search. You can view results by: all results, people, pages, places, groups, apps, events, music, web results, posts by friends, public posts, or posts in groups. Even still, the results are often unhelpful – even the filtered results.

Facebook Search Results

Given Facebook’s enormous user base and all of the content that is posted to the social network every day, a competent search engine is needed badly. Just think how much more useful Facebook would be if you could easily use it to find things. As a business, think about how much better Facebook could work for you if you could better optimize for its search feature, and it delivered your product or service’s page to people searching with relevant needs – or perhaps better yet, when their friends are talking about or checking in at your business.

Facebook As A Search Engine

Again, there are a reported two dozen engineers working on improving Facebook’s search feature. It sounds like they’re really putting a lot of time and effort into it now. If it turns out to be a major improvement and is that useful, competing with Google for searches seems inevitable at one level or another.

Consider the emphasis Google and other search engines are putting on social these days. Earlier this year, Google launched “Search Plus Your World,” delivering results much more based on your social circles – particularly your Google+ circles. One major flaw to this approach is that people just aren’t using Google+ the way they’re using Facebook, no matter how Google chooses to deem a user an active user.

For many people (about 800 million or so), a Facebook search engine would much more closely resemble “search, plus their world”.

There are quite a few interesting angles to consider, should a true Facebook search engine become a reality. Would it be available only to users? Facebook has a whole lot of public content. Being signed in would only serve to make the results more personalized – kind of like with Google today – the main difference being that personalization with Facebook data is much more likely to be relevant than personalization based on Google+ interaction. This is not a slight on Google+ as a service. It’s just a fact that Facebook has been around for far longer, and has way more active users who engage with their closest friends and family members on a daily basis, sharing tons of photos, videos, status updates and links to web content.

Would Facebook even bother to index the public web the way Google and its peers do? Right now, Facebook uses Bing to pad its search results with web results. Facebook could continue this indefinitely, or it could simply compete with Bing too, somewhere down the road. Facebook doesn’t need to index the web the way Google does, however, to put a dent into Google’s search market share. Even if it can convince users to use its own revamped search feature for certain kinds of queries, that’s queries that users don’t need Google for.

I’ve long maintained that the biggest threat to Google’s search market share is likely not the threat of a single competitor, but the diversification of search in general. People are using more apps than ever (from more devices than ever), and just don’t have to rely on Google (or other traditional search engines) for access to content the way they used to. Take Twitter search, for example, which has become the go-to destination for finding quick info on events and topics in real time. When was the last time you turned to Google’s realtime search feature? It’s been a while, because it’s been MIA since Google’s partnership with Twitter expired last year. Sometimes a Twitter search is simply more relevant than a Google search for new information, despite Google’s increased efforts in freshness.

Google may even be setting itself up to push users to a Facebook search engine, should one arise. There has been a fair amount of discontent expressed regarding Google’s addition of Search Plus Your World. Much of this has no doubt been exaggerated by the media, but there is discontent there. What if Facebook had a marketing plan to go along with this hypothetical search engine? It shouldn’t be too hard for them to play that “search plus your actual world” angle up.

They’ve already done this to some extent. Not officially, exactly, but remember “Focus On The User” from Facebook Director of Product Blake Ross (with some help from engineers at Twitter and MySpace)?

And speaking of Twitter and MySpace, who’s to say they wouldn’t support a Facebook search engine, and lend access to their respective social data to make an even bigger, highly personalized social search engine? That could be incredibly powerful.

A conversation between two Business Insider writers would suggest that we won’t see Facebook as a “favorite web search engine any time soon,” but again, it doesn’t have to replace Google to make an impact.

About a year ago, we talked about a patent Facebook was awarded, called, “Visual tags for search results generated from social network information”. The description for that was:

Search results, including sponsored links and algorithmic search results, are generated in response to a query, and are marked based on frequency of clicks on the search results by members of social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation from the member who submitted the query. The markers are visual tags and comprise either a text string or an image.

That’s something else to keep in mind.

Revenue

There’s certainly plenty of opportunity to sell more Facebook ads (which are already getting pretty popular with businesses). It’s going to be much more about revenue at Facebook in the post-IPO world. Facebook is already superior to Google in terms of ad targeting by interest and demographic, as users can be targeted based on very specific things they have “liked”. Add search to the mix, and you also get users while they’re actively seeking something out – Google’s strong point. That’s the best of both worlds.

Facebook won’t have to please shareholders by showing that it can be a better search engine than Google, but if they can create a search engine or even just an internal search feature that people want to use, there is a huge opportunity to make plenty of revenue from that. It just may also result in some portion of searches that may have otherwise gone to Google (or Yahoo, Bing, Ask or whatever) to go to Facebook instead, along with more cumulative time spent on Facebook.

Who knows? It may even set the stage for an AdSense-like ad network based on highly targeted Facebook ads. Again, revenue is going to be more important to Facebook than ever after the IPO.

What do you think? Would you use a Facebook search engine as a user? As an advertiser would you consider it an attractive option? How about an AdSense-like ad network for publishers? Share your thoughts in the comments.

New Facebook Search Engine In The Works, Should Google Worry?
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  • http://webhow.org/ Hando

    There is certainly nothing wrong for Facebook to improve their search function but to compete with Google, that is very questionable. I think that Bing has even better chance than Facebook.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

      It will be very interesting to see how long they work together.

      • http://www.fastop.com Daniel Allen

        We’ve already created a search engine that’s better than google and bing combined. It’s the first Visual Search Engine. You enter your search content and click on your search choice.

        Example: If I wanted to search for a specific type of shoe, I would type in “Jordans” then click on Sears, Ebay, Shop, Zappos, etc. Fastop.com Visual Search Engine allows you to search across multiple sites as well as other search engines and countries.

        It’s time people knew we exist.

        –Daniel L. Allen

        • nobleking

          If you mean fastop.com, it is cumbersome and takes time to load. It is basically showing the results produced with the help of other search engines.

          • http://fastop.com Daniel Allen

            You are correct when you say it searches across several search engines. I believe I mentioned that. What you failed to mention is that it searches across actual sites as well. The load time is minor. However, the functionality saves time. I can use a single search query to search for results on every major site and search engine from one location. This gives us surfers/researchers the ability to view a large variety of conent in a shorter time.

            Example: Enter Beyonce then click on images, videos, news, web, amazon, ebay, etc. Each search is kept in its own folder. Now change the country and search for her to see how other countries view her.

            This is not a cut and dry search engine and we don’t have to re-invent the wheel everytime we improve on an idea. Everybody has a search function on their site because they want you to search for content. So we allowed you access to all of it from one place.

            P.S. I will be working on the load time.

            –Daniel.

        • http://fastop.com Daniel Allen

          Thanks to this article, we’ve finally started getting traffic from all over the world.

          http://www.fastop.com – The Visual Search Engine.

          –Daniel.

      • Ryan Kempf

        its really going to depend on two factors #1 how accurate the Facebook Search Engine is and #2 how easy is is to access

    • nobleking

      Facebook’s attempt to launch a search engine is very similar to Google’s venture into Google+ social networking, to compete with Facebook. In a competitive world there is nothing wrong. If Facebook needs a sign-in to use their search engine facility then I feel it may not give a good competition to Google.

      If I am not wrong, at present Google search is very different to Facebook’s search facility producing different search results. Facebook needs to put in extra efforts keeping in mind Yahoo and Bing who are already in the business.

    • http://www.vortexstudios.co.za Aubrey

      Thats the problem, people are so afraid to take on the big boys .. and if people just look, they can find holes in businesses to enhance on and take advantage .. so if Facebook takes on Google .. awesome but it will be nice to see the smaller companies or individuals take on the likes of Google and Facebook …

      • http://fastop.com Daniel Allen

        The problem with being successful in any market is that the unexperienced entrepreneur wants to re-invent the wheel instead of enhance the quality of pre-existing product. Like the Internet boom in the ’90s, Startup Web companies were given hundreds of millions to create websites that could enhance the market, but instead chose to start from scratch. Online pet companies went out and hired new staff, bought warehouses, stocked loads of products, but didn’t have any idea how to run the company. The only real solutions would have been to purchase pet companies already in existence and build a website around them.

        This is the idea my wife and I had when creating http://Fastop.com, the first Visual Search Engine. How to utilize all of the content on the web in a presentable way that makes searching completely effortless? Well we were successful. Now you can search across all of the top search engines, sites, as well as countries from one place. Type in your search query and click on any button you see to get started.

        –Daniel.

  • Boy George

    Facebook has no bullocks to beat Google into search field. LOL

    • http://foffmofo.net olio

      Why wouldn’t Facebook just close?

  • http://www.replica-sunglasses.co.uk/womens-sunglasses/ Lisa

    This is great when it comes to search. Its a great step as long as i get traffic from facebook.

  • http://www.stretchlimohire.co.za shand

    Most def advertise on here, sooner than on Google, as I use FaceBook for advertising my business already..

  • http://www.bizwaremagic.com Titus

    After I realized this wasn’t an April’s Fool’s joke, I was cheering. Let’s hope Facebook does a full-scale search and not just one limited to social. Don’t dislike Google, but it’s desperately needs competition to keep it honest and relevant. Now, we all have to hope Apple comes to its senses and follows Facebook’s lead… let the search games begin.

    • http://www.fastop.com Daniel Allen

      It has competition. Check out fastop.com the first Visual Search Engine. Type in your search content and click away.

      —Daniel.

  • http://www.seostartupkit.com/ John

    At the very least, it would be nice to see some diversity in the search marketplace.

    Im all for it.

  • http://www.computerhowtoguide.com Computer How To Guide

    I don’t see why Google should be worried. If you’re good, you’re good and no one could take it from you! Anyway, healthy competition is always good for all of us – the users!

    -Peter Lee

  • http://www.studioartistx.nl Alexander

    It’s really disturbing how bad facebook search is so far. Let’s hope it gets better.

  • Joons

    Instead of wasting 24 engineers building the next piece of scammy, security disaster piece of code – go fix the garbage you have aleady

  • http://www.7boats.com Debajyoti Banerjee

    ‘Making Facebook search better’ is obviously a good initiative taken by Facebook and they should improve it. But to compete with Google, it has to go a long way. First of all, login/registration to use their search would not really help much. Secondly, mixing it up with present and same Facebook profile page might make it cluttered and deviate it from the prime focus of search. Hopefully they would have made some better strategy already. Healthy competition is always good ..ultimately users would get more choices and better features.

  • http://www.fairsearch.org/ henry

    Great news! If there were 3 or 4 major search engines on the internet we wouldn’t have Google squeezing the life out of the affiliate industry.

    Over the next couple of years we’ll hopefully not only see Facebook Search, but also Apple Search. If Apple’s search was built with the same tenacity and determination as their products, it could mop google to the bucket where it belongs.

  • http://iphoneunlockstop.com Kevin

    I definitely think it would be a good idea for facebook to compete with google. It would be about time a worthy competitor stepped up to the plate and put some heat on the search engine giant. They have become a dictatorship with all the policies and algorithm changes , not to mention the adwords account suspensions for minor infractions. Do they care? Of course not because they know they have a monopoly

    Bring it to em facebook!!

  • http://none Frank Jackson

    yes, it would be great, so that all can compete better on the social network.

  • http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com ron

    Face book search engine idea is ok but ONLY if you do not have to log in to face book first, otherwise they will have a complete record of what YOU searched for to link to YOUR account to send personalised advertising Remember they have all your details (you gave to them so cant complain) and by using engine will be giving them consent to do so.
    I have noticed that some times Bing gives more results than Google which seems now to becoming selective rather than objective.

  • http://www.namastu.com namastu

    Welcome Facebook search engine . this google is creating plenty of problems for SEO sometimes panda now semantic search .

  • http://www.campfirecontent.com Charlie

    I don’t know if Google has to worry, but I do think that the direction FB is going is the right direction…and, if Google doesn’t hurry up and “bundle” things a little better, “FB Search” just might tilt the table even more in their favor (re: loyal and perpetual users, visitors, members).

    I expect Google knows how to do the job alright, but I don’t think they’re planning their overall strategies only around FB anyway. Seems like they’re still attempting to maintain the familiar Google simplicity, functionality, value, quality, and integrity (at least we hope that’s still their goals, no?).

    Of course, it could be that the young billionaire founders are just trying to see who can amass the most numbers…in cyberspace and in real life ($), y’know? Time will tell, I guess.

    I’m just sayin’…

  • Letsapa kgato

    I’d like to use the latest facebook account

  • http://webmarketingtips4u.com Tony

    Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves! Facebook must first undertake the task of improving its own interior search engine before it can even think about competing with Google on the larger scale. That’s probably one reason the company went out a made the deal with “former Googler Lars Rasmussen”. If they are successful in making their own SE better, then maybe they can set their sights to a run against Google.

    I agree fully, though, that “…If it turns out to be a major improvement and is that useful, competing with Google for searches seems inevitable at one level or another.” But I think the time it will take for Facebook to improve its own system will provide a window for Google to take steps that would maintain – if not enhance – its dominance in search, because no one thinks that Google will be sitting still while Facebook is attempting to, essentially, put it out of business.

    Can you imagine a day if Facebook becomes THE dominant search engine, and Google becomes THE dominant social network? And during the process each company loses the market which it now controls? Just a futuristic idea! Thanks for a great, if not thought-stimulating, article.

    TPJ-

  • http://mega-informationsite.com Art Hutchinson

    I think that would be an awesome idea and I really hope they do. Its time to put up a fight against Google, no doubt f/b will win.

  • http://Www.jasjotbains.com Jasjot

    I will surely prefer a fb search engine, and more importantly an adsense like ad network from FB. This would help break the monopoly of google and increase the areas of revenue for publishers.

  • Ex Googler

    Yes, Facebook should make a search engine to directly compete with Google. They should leave no stone unturned to beat Google. If they can do it, the monopoly of Google can be brought to justice. Of course, Google should worry. They are rigid, anti competitive, anti human. The ugly face of Google is now revealed. They are actually the most money-mongers in the world. They need to be taught a lesson. Otherwise, there will be only one website on the net, google.com and they will be providing each and everything people need. Seeing all dirty stuff they are doing, I honestly want to see them fail as badly as that can be.

  • http://attention-facebook.com SomebodySmart

    Such a search engine should also enable users to find persons who use the feature I propose at ATTENTION-FACEBOOK.COM (Firefox browser only.)

    • http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com ron

      Be careful your site probably infringes facebook trademark or name copywrite expect lawyers letter very soon…..

  • http://www.baldydog.com Baldydog Search

    Its about time they made improvements to their search..countless times when doing research on sites that have a fanpage, i have used Google instead of Fb to find the info…you would think that Fb search would be the resource for all things FB.

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    Yes, Google should concern itself. Since Google is now accountable to shareholders anything that threatens its bottom-line that isn’t properly addressed jeopardizes all top management positions.
    And since Facebook has the Google model to base itself on and a captured audience of 800M+ and can currently make quick, untethered decisions (not yet accountable to shareholders) it can act faster with innovation … like basing its internal advertising program on its user’s personal data, right-down to age and gender and likes and dislikes (something Google is now, as of March 1, trying to “catch-up” with).

  • Ryan Kempf

    its really going to depend on two factors #1 how accurate the Facebook Search Engine is and #2 how easy is to access

  • http://bungeebones.com Robert

    I think the author of this article is totally clueless as to why Google has spent billions developing their search engine. Google does not make a dime directly from search. If anyone ever paid to use it let us know. And unless Facebook just wants to take Google on for the fun of it (i.e. without making a profit) they wouldn’t unless they wanted to also launch a PayPerClick. PayPerClick is what drives Google’s profits. If FaceBook ventures into search it wouldn’t net any profit from it but would end up losing money on it. What would be the point? They will improve the search of their own site but not the web.

  • http://www.rileymedspa.com George

    Yes FaceBook should make a search engine to compete with Google. For too long Google has had too much control over web traffic and search engine placement. There is way too much irrelevant results returned in Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

    Go FaceBook!

  • http://evrn.net/ Howard Crane

    What do I think??

    The Internet is going down the toilet.

    • http://fastop.com Daniel Allen

      Checkout the first Visual Search Engine. It takes the best of the web and allows you to get to what’s important faster.

      Enter your query and click on every button you see for results.

      –Daniel

  • http://theinternetisfun.blogspot.com/ Steve

    If people from google search engine continue to make changes and create annyoing fast search and try to continue to make changes that users doesn’t like, then YES

  • http://vizfact.com/ VizFact

    Awesome concept, give Google a run for its money.

  • http://www.absolutewebworks.com/ Absolute Webworks

    Competition is good. I believe that Facebook could do a better job at real time search. Maybe Facebook should target this niche and become the dominate leader in this area of search.

  • Kelly

    my classmate’s sister-in-law made $15630 the previous month. she works on the computer and moved in a $580400 house. All she did was get fortunate and try the guide explained on this website NUTTYRICHdotcom

    • Tommo

      can someone PLEASE remove this spam?

  • http://www.bn4u.org Ambalal Darji

    I think Google should not worry about this, as Google is already famous and best search engine.

  • http://www.richmondau.com Rich Mond

    Yes it is right that Google is is best search engine in world. so don’t worried to Google.

  • http://www.ipnostudio.com Andrea Hypno

    I think scared to death is a better expression than simply worried. If FaceBook adds a good search engine and ads, with a share with users and not just for owners’ pockets, then Google is out of business. And given that it’s years that G doesn’t innovate but it just buys other people stuff, like YouTube, they don’t have the abilities to stand this kind of threat. Their belly has been filled too much, so to speak.

    I think that mixing social and search is wrong as it will be just another way to get fake results based on personal preferences and not on relevancy, plus it will be much easier than now to show to users the results someone wants and not the best ones. Relevant results are already difficult to find without adding the personal opinion of my dentist. We can like whatever we want but it’s just our opinion, who can tell if it’s right?

    We’re not going toward a world where people is happy to be profiled and analyzed in every side of their life and given that both FaceBook and Google use this kind of approach, FB has already zillions of data on users, I think they’ll both fall in some years and something else will raise. Possibly somthing more ethical. People already doesn’t even know what MySpace was and in a couple of years it will be the same for Yahoo.

    The net is fast so even big players of today can disappear like mist tomorrow. Imho.

  • http://www.blogdemy.com BlogDemy

    Is it real news or april fool’s prank.

  • http://www.net9design.com Mobile

    I think one of the issues Facebook will have is that the results will give you lots of spam Facebook pages or pages with little useful information. Google has search down to a fine art as proved by the latest update removing spam blog networks, and as much as we all dislike Googles dominance in the search market, they do give excellent results that Facebook will find hard to compete against.

  • Paul

    The concern which nags at me is that IF Facebook has a “deeper” search capability, will (search)users be able to circumvent the privacy aspects of individuals?
    The point being, to search (deeper) for persons, addresses, phone nbrs, or employers etc., using any existing, more guarded information from the Facebook social site pages, could reveal all sorts of dangerously personal details.

  • http://www.fundaiphone4.es Fundas iphone 4

    I like Facebook, but i don t like their intention… i think they don t have to do a search engine…. google is better…

  • http://www.publistudioltda.com Diseño Web y producciones de video

    Very nice article, facebook are going to the leadership in business, keep growing

  • http://www.dweb3d.com Diseño Web y posicionamiento SEO

    Faceboook are ever to avant garde in visits and ranking , the number one site in the world, this thing are bringing more incomes, nice for they

  • http://www.spacioyamoblamiento.com Muebles para oficina en colombia

    Facebook owners are big for business, this new feature are good for they , horray for facebook

  • http://www.simonhaestoe.com Simon

    I agree with at least one poster, here (in that competing with google is a little too much), but… why not use it as motivation? Maybe it doesn’t HAVE to be as good as google to become used? Everyone is on facebook, all the time, and – with the attention spam of today’s people – it would probably be convenient not to have to change site to search for something (also, maybe most people wouldn’t notice a difference in quality).

  • http://www.medlawplus.com medlaw

    In an odd twist, Facebook starting up a search engine would help Google defend itself against an antitrust inquiry in the EU. Should Google fear a Facebook search engine. I think Facebook is in the midst of a long slide against Twitter (it’s chief rival). Can’t image Facebook would ever pose a threat to Google in search.

  • Kevin Micknick

    yes facebook should build their own search engine. Google needs some serious competition and I think a lot of facebook users will use facebook search rather than opening another window to go to do a google search.

  • http://elizabeth-city-real-estate.com/ Ingrid

    Facebook will knock em dead with a search feature. Every business that I know has a Facebook page but only 75% of them have actual websites. looking forward to it!

  • http://elizabeth-city-real-estate.com/cg.htm John

    Bring it on facebook!

  • Kelly

    my friend’s mother brought home $17162 a month ago. she is getting paid on the laptop and got a $563900 house. All she did was get lucky and apply the guide reported on this site NUTTYRICHdotcom

  • http://www.webdesign123.org.uk Web design

    And Google wants to beat facebook with Google +

  • http://www.hublon.com Hublon

    Even though Social Media has become the most popular tool to advertise business, I don’t think they can outrank search engines soon enough (or I might be wrong) in terms of giving relevant results. But having an alternative SE is a great idea.

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