On November 11 this year, I posted this tweet: Anybody still in doubt what $FB intentions are, proof they are serious about their role in search.
This was my reaction to the little balloon prompting me to do a search for the hashtag of the moment; "#GOPDebate".
A month later, the opportunity for Facebook in search was much better described by Blake Ross in a fantastic piece on Medium titled: "How to swallow $200 million accidentally". And Blake is probably better positioned to have a good point of view on the opportunity, since he used to work at Facebook on product. Having an understanding on how people work, think and decisions are made, gives a clear insight opinion on the way Facebook might act on the opportunity. I'm just an outside spectator working for the last 14 years in search. In my personal opinion I share Blake's point of view, search could be a multi billion dollar opportunity for Facebook.
One thing I don't understand in the current implementation of the search suggest balloons across Facebook in the last couple of days, is that with all the smart people working at Facebook, there is a significant UX improvement which can be easily rolled out. This improvement could grow the number of Facebook search queries exponentially, something Google does on a regular basis through the Google Doodle and product integrations on the Search Result page.
How Google is inflating the number of search queries
One obvious ways Google is inflating search numbers, is through query stimulation. As WTFSEO already wrote a couple of weeks ago, the Google Doodle is one way to increase and stimulate the number of searches people make. Check out today's Doodle. The doodle is leading to some obscure query people most likely would not easily search for. A whole bunch of people would explain this as a great way to pick up new knowledge. You do a Google search through the doodle, and fall into the rabbit hole of knowledge graph. Before you know it, you've spent hours clicking through search links in the knowledge graph box on the right side, inflating Google's search queries.
The image above here shows you the perfect example of search query stimulation, AKA search inflation. The knowledge graph box on the right is full with links which would lead to other searches. See the box below, where every link, except for the Wikipedia link, is generating a new search on Google.
The ways how Google is artificially inflating its search queries is not limited to the practices outlined here. There are a couple more...but not really relevant for this article, one example will do to showcase the practice.
How can Facebook ramp up Searches
A really simple way Facebook is ramping up it's searches on the platform, are the trending topics on the right side. These are the topics people talk about, but also, when clicked on, will generate a Facebook search page for that topic.
Probably, Facebook already is seeing big growth in the number of searches made, where in June last year the number of searches on Facebook already reached 1.5B queries each day. However, I believe they are holding back in the potential, and first do a lot of testing to get the user experience and result set just perfect before Facebook really put a foot on the gas.
How to ramp up search queries on Facebook
For instance, it would be really easy to ramp up the number of searches with one simple UX change in the little bubble from the first paragraph in this post. Yep, make the hashtag a link to the search, instead of having people type in the actual query...And if I start, I bet I will find a bunch of other ways to stimulate queries on Facebook.
I'm sure people working at Facebook are way to smart of overlooking this simple opportunity, so I'm leaning towards the opinion that Facebook is holding back for the right moment to crush it and exponentially grow the number of queries when the time is right.
What do you think...? Leave a comment below here.