Zuckerberg On Search: “At Some Point, We’ll Do It” & Be “Uniquely Positioned”

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. 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:

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.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Facebook | Features: Analysis | Google: Search Plus Your World | Google: Social Search | Microsoft: Bing Social Search | Search Engines: Social Search Engines | Top News

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About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Alan

    As smart as Zucker is, he is also just as stupid. They are uniquely positioned alright,. They are the number 2 website in the world occasionally hitting number 1 (as they are at the moment
    http://www.alexa.com/topsites/global ) and he feels that search is just something they should dabble in? OMG Google is constantly attacking them on every front and what do Facebook do ? They hire a PR company to dig up dirt on Google. I guess sometimes there is no substitute for maturity. Something the board at FB is severely lacking. They should be taking the fight to Google. I have said it before when an “FBbot” starts trawling the web, watch the temperature in the Google board room hit corona of the Sun temperatures.

    What a wasted opportunity.
    Smart kid is that Zucker! Wise? no were near!

  • http://twitter.com/theseanstewart Sean Stewart

    I’m looking forward to Facebook launching a search engine. I think they’ll be positioned to grab significant search market share the moment they launch.

  • http://www.postlinearity.com gregorylent

    great interview, and my, how mr. zuckerberg has grown!

  • Alan

    Danny you say

    “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.”

    However there are tiny companies like duckduckgo doing it. A company like FB should be able to match them easily. A searchengine doesn’t have to be perfect at version 1.0. look at Google they are still doing on average 2 or 3 updates per day! FB just need to release A search engine and no what they have at the moment isn’t a real search engine. once they have done that. Just like Google they can refine and update until the cows come home.

  • harryfassett

    The social dynamics and signals are just too much for Google and Bing to handle it seems at this time, but time will tell if they ever can make sense of them.

  • jeewan

    Sir do you think these many search engine can give the customer right choice.http://www.servovolatgestabilizer.in

  • jeewan

    sir do you think these many search engine can give right inforamation to searcher.www.servovoltagestailiser.in

  • http://twitter.com/todayztrendz David Smith

    So it’s confirmed – Facebook are no match for Google when it comes to search.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.rekuc David Rekuc

    Danny, I think you have a duplicate sentence in there: “If anything, both search engines have seemed to struggling figuring out how exactly to make use of social signals.” Same sentence ends a paragraph, then starts the next.

    I think its smart to wait to have a competitive advantage or unique positioning to introduce a search product. Google+ is a perfect example of how inertia in the market will keep users using the product they’re used to, even if a legitimate alternative exists. The product has to have something unique to make them want to jump ship.

    That being said, Facebook’s advertising could benefit quite a bit from such a strong intent signal as search. Search ads AND search retargeting on the same site? Damn.

  • http://www.delivra.com/ Cody Sharp

    Search is the only real opportunity for revenue for Facebook. Thus, Zuckerberg is not pursuing it :) On a more serious note, Facebook search could be incredibly valuable but would likely drive privacy advocates nuts since it would need to rely on profiles for personal info that could lend weight to its results.

  • Robert

    To be honest, I want a search engine that takes my keywords and matches them against pages and then gives me a range of resulting sites to choose from. We used to have these ;-) I do not want a search engine to guess what I’m thinking, answer the bigger question, tell me what my friends already know, tell me what I wanted to know last time I searched for that or tell me what someone paid them to. In fact, I do not want a search engine to ANSWER the question, I want it to tell me other pages which answer that question for me. When I look for books on Shakespeare in a library index, I don’t want the index to have a biography on it, I want it to have book details on it … when I search, its mostly to find things I don’t know, explore the new etc.

  • http://twitter.com/Amazon_cz Amazon Cz

    I think it can be quite popular. In my country is FB so popular and every kid is there. Question is what info they put on.

  • http://twitter.com/todayztrendz David Smith

    Well said. I want my DISCOVERY engine back where I’d find new and interesting sites. This always lead me to much deeper research. What we have now is Google searching a tiny sliver of the whole internet, and trying to be the “curator” of the results too much. Much of the internet is missing from Google’s first page results these days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kamal.ji.5055 Kamal Ji

    very informative.. i bookmarked it..

  • http://twitter.com/victorpan victorpan

    What didn’t make sense two months ago now makes a lot of sense. Hah.
    http://searchengineland.com/facebook-no-sense-to-do-web-search-now-128611

  • ankya7

    I would prefer more a integrated search engine with Facebook, rather than a new search engine. Though both should be looking more towards what are they best at. But this does not hide the number game behind Facebook. i still believe Facebook has a bright future as the power of internet and social media is still beyond imagination is developing countries. So there is still lot more of search and social networking our way which can be easily facilitated by an integrated search from Facebook.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paresh.shrimali Paresh Shrimali

    Face book have much more large social network.. they must provide search results. its good for Facebook users they do not go outside of the Facebook.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/mohammed.rameez.5249 Mohammed Rameez

    he is gona suck googles cock

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