Facebook, which recently racked up a 10 percent month-over-month gain in searches for February, is rolling out an auto-suggest feature to its improving search engine.
Soon, when users type a query into the search bar, they'll be offered results for people, Pages, events and groups they're associated with, as well as the connections of friends and other Web results.
Essentially, Facebook is adding a feature that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Bing have made a standard in their search services. Search engines without them -- I can't think of any right now -- would be much less useful without them.
I checked today and Facebook hasn't turned this feature on for me, so I'll use the example provided by Facebook engineer Wayne Kao:
"When you start typing in "MGM" to find the Facebook Page for the band MGMT, you may see it as the first result in the drop-down menu because you or one of your friends is a fan of MGMT on Facebook. You can simply hit enter on that result and you will be taken directly to the MGMT Page."
Kao provided this screenshot:
Users who don't see what they are looking for in the drop-down menu can go to the search results page by selecting the See More Results tag, which I've highlighted at the bottom of the screen.
A little feature, perhaps, but you should expect to see Facebook, and perhaps other social networks, such as LinkedIn or MySpace, add features that mimic the functionality of the leading search engines.
That could help keep users coming to Facebook, which has more than 400 million users and has been watching search queries on its site rise in lock-step with its popularity.