Facebook has reportedly started testing an in-app search engine that allows users to search for websites and articles. According to a TechCrunch report, users can also embed the searched links and content in their status updates. Facebook's new feature is likely to heat up competition with Google in the search engine segment.
According to the report, a few iOS users are seeing a new feature called 'Add A Link' alongside add photos and locations buttons. After entering keywords, Facebook shows you a list of relevant results, along with an option to include embed the content to your status with a caption. Results include the latest posts by websites that have been shared by lot of people.
Confirming the test, Facebook said: “We’re piloting a new way to add a link that’s been shared on Facebook to your posts and comments.” The social networking company is currently testing the feature with a small set of users in the U.S. Though there's no official confirmation, Facebook is most likely to expand the feature to more users as it gears up to further compete with Google, which has been dominant in the search engine business.
While in-app search engine gives users an easier way to search content and share it on the social network, Facebook is also likely to woo more publishers to take the platform more (commercially) seriously. As pointed out in the TechCrunch report, Facebook has become a huge source of referral traffic – Facebook was source of 25% of all social clicks in late 2014, compared to just 0.88% for Twitter. The new in-app search feature is likely to prompt websites/publishers to go more aggressive on their Facebook marketing strategy. Here's a chart giving a rough idea on social media traffic referrals: