A search engine like no other

Having survived both the ‘dog fooding’ (where it’s tested internally by Facebook employees) and beta phases, yesterday saw Facebook Graph Search finally roll out to the mainstream US audience.

Unlike web search which takes open questions and provides a myriad of broadly relevant information back via links, graph search takes a specific query and returns a specific answer directly on the page itself. While Graph Search is not therefore a direct competitor to Google, it could provide a very legitimate alternative for certain kinds of search queries, particularly those where the recommendations of friends is of significant value. For example, if you want to find restaurants nearby that your friends like or a gym liked by women over 50 in your town, then short of conducting a poll yourself graph search is the one way to get hold of that information.

It’s one of a long list of changes that the social giant is implementing this year and again, like Home and Reader, Facebook Graph Search seems to be primarily about engagement. Will Facebook Graph Search drag users away from Google? No. Will it help keep people already on Facebook, on Facebook? Quite possibly. And with their 1 billion strong audience ready to try whatever’s thrown at them, a bit more time could mean a lot more revenue.