Facebook search: first step to Google's demise?

15 May 2015

According to TechCrunch, Facebook is piloting a new feature with some users of its iOS app, where links can be searched for from within the app itself.

This move removes the need to search for links on Google and copy the results into the Facebook app or share from other apps.

This functionality appears alongside the familiar options to add a photo or location in a status update. When the user clicks ‘add a link’, they can insert a search query and Facebook suggests the links they may be looking for. The links are previewed and can be added to the status update with a click.

TechCrunch suggests that the search results are “sorted by what users are most likely to share, highlighting recently published sites that have been posted by lots of people”.

Facebook is reported to have indexed over one trillion posts for users to search using this feature.

From Facebook’s point of view, this could be an effective way to draw users away from Google and the other search engines by tailoring its results so they are as relevant and useful as possible. Keeping its users on its own site, rather than requiring them to go elsewhere, could encourage its dominance in its field and is likely to increase the number of posts that are published. Facebook can also learn more about its users, thanks to the links that are selected and shared.

For businesses, there will be a lot of interest in how they can get their own websites and blogs to be indexed by Facebook for this feature. It is early days, so this is currently unclear but, from the information that has been released so far, focusing on relevance and encouraging high levels of social engagement is likely to improve the likelihood of a website being indexed and suggested to users.