PUBLISHED: Apr 5, 2012 4 min read

Facebook Search Engine? Can They Pull it Off?

Ruben Quinones

Ruben Quinones

Senior Vice President, Sales

Word is out that Facebook is looking to improve their search capabilities.  Although it seems that it is limited to improving search only within their own platform, a Facebook Search Engine is certainly is going to draw some attention from Google.  There already are some speculations that Facebook is making a play for a more robust search feature that would directly compete against traditional search engines.

Google’s sponsored ads featured on it’s search results pages reaped $36 billion in sales last year, 10 times that of Facebook’s ad revenue of $3.2 billion. While a Facebook Search Engine is still slightly more than a rumor, to think that they would rule out a feature that blurs the lines of social and direct search requests would be naive.

But how successful can a Facebook Search Engine be if they’re up against their colossus competitor, Google?


Here is why a Facebook Search Engine might NOT work:

  • They are not Google.  Seriously, have you tried to search on the existing Facebook Search Engine, only to give up and go to Google?  Google not only changed the game back when there were many search providers over a decade ago, but continues to innovate and make our search results more relevant, i.e. semantic search.
  • Facebook’s core is social. Habitually users go to Google to search, they go to Facebook to hangout. Deviating away from what made Facebook successful might be a risk, and could jeopardize the social ecosystem it worked so hard to create.
  • Google created and has mastered PageRank.  The algorithm that propelled Google as the top search engine has been developed over the years to provide users with the most relevant search results.  This sophisticated way of establishing domain authority, external sites linking to a site, indexing capabilities resulting  in relevant search queries cannot be easily replicated.

Here is why A Facebook Search Engine might work:

  • They are Facebook.  They did supplant the Facebook of it’s time, Myspace.  They also over took Google’s Orkut in places like Brazil growing to over 800 million users.  Just like Google they changed our behavior online and contributed to how we discovered information online.  Just like Google, Facebook has become a cultural phenomenon.  Over a decade a go, terms like “Fanned”, “liked”, “Googled”, were not a part of our vocabulary.
  • If you already could, you would search on Facebook directly.  Although Facebook is inherently a social network, this appeal can be leveraged to provide users with an alternative to not only discover information, but also search within the platform.  Facebook has a stickiness factor that Google must envy.  Users will spend an average of over an hour a day on the social network while they may spend only minutes on Google’s search engine,
  • Google may have PageRank, but Facebook has the Open Graph.  Introduced two years ago, the web has embraced this feature.  Who wouldn’t want to have their site content to be liked and shared with other users who discover it within the platform?  Additionally, the Open Graph has evolved to include more passive actions, including listening to music, reading, using an application, etc.  Take this data and couple it with the reach of a user’s social circle within the platform and you have a plausible scenario that may provide dynamic and super relevant search results if a search was performed.  This is exactly what Google’s Search Plus Your World is trying to achieve in a user’s search experience.

What do you think?  Could you see yourself possibly using a Facebook search engine in the future?