It has been the subject of rumour for quite a while, but it is now clear that Facebook are entering the search engine stakes in a far bigger way. It is not quite the challenge to Google and Bing that many SEOs might have expected though.
The project, which interestingly enough is being headed up by a team including ex-Google employees, is to make search more user friendly within the walls of Facebook.
With this in mind, it will be centred on interrogating the volumes of data it has, such as relationships, Likes and locations. Results will not be made up of data collated on a wider level or comprise an infinite number of ranking factors.
It is unclear whether Facebook did intend to face off with Google at any point, but in reality they simply have not got the financial or personnel infrastructure in place. There does not seem to be much need for it either. In February 2012, the total number of searches conducted on the site totalled 336 million. This is far short of all the major search engines, including the likes of Ask and AOL.
With more than 400 million regular users, this represents a very small percentage. When you consider that those searching on the site are likely to do multiple searches too, this percentage decreases significantly further.
The news that there is to be a significant overhaul shows that Facebook are intending to grab some of the $20 billion industry that search has become, although this does mean that those working on search engine optimisation on their sites need to be ready to respond.