Waiting for a Facebook search engine? Eventually, it’ll arrive, says Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But it might not be what you expect. Speaking in an interview today at TechCrunch Disrupt with Mike Arrington, Zuckerberg said that Facebook is doing a billion searches per day, “and we’re not even trying.”
Most searches are, as we’ve heard in the past, really people searching for other people. But there are also searches for brands. “There’s a big opportunity there,” Zuckerberg said, of going beyond people search.
But the opportunity might not be to build a search engines as they’ve traditionally been. Zuckerberg talked of how search engines take in keywords, run “some magic” and produce lists as changing.
“Search engines are evolving” to “giving you a set of answers,” Zuckerberg said. In this new model, ”Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of questions people have.”
He gave examples of wanting to know about a sushi restaurant and being able to tell what’s the right answer based on your connections.
“These are queries you could potentially do on Facebook if we built it out,” he said. “At some point we’ll do it,” he went on. “We have a team working on search.”
But then Zuckerberg seemed to pull back, describing search as an “ongoing effort” more focused around still helping people find other people on Facebook and saying there was “nothing specific to announce.”
Facebook has indeed long had a search team, and it’s a team that has done anything but seemed to dive into competing with Google head-on, even when Google, as Arrington joked opening up the question about search, may have “pissed” Facebook off by launching Google+ and fighting directly on the social front.
I’ve always come away feeling that Facebook certainly had plenty to do with getting the tough job of “discovery” of content through social right without going into the search space, which is a massive project to itself.
Instead, Facebook has lent its weight to Bing, making it the close partner to tap into its social data while Google has been locked out.
Being locked out certainly hasn’t seemed to hurt Google’s search relevancy nor somehow boosted Bing past Google on the back of Facebook’s data. If anything, both search engines have seemed to struggling figuring out how exactly to make use of social signals.
If anything, both search engines have seemed to struggling figuring out how exactly to make use of social signals. Links: The Broken “Ballot Box” Used By Google & Bing is an article from me last month that explains more about this.
I highly recommend reading that, along with the others below, to better understand some of the pros and cons about social helping search:
Google’s Results Get More Personal With “Search Plus Your World”Bing Relaunches, Features New Social SidebarHow Serious Is Facebook About Search?
Note: I heard Zuckerberg has saying Facebook does on the order of a quarter billion searches per day, but several other outlets are saying he said one billion per day. I’ve updated my article to that figure until I can double-check with the eventual video.