Facebook is currently carrying out tests on an in-app keyword search engine that will allow users to find articles and websites on the Internet that can be added to status updates.

Some Facebook users on iOS devices can see an "Add A Link" option beside the buttons to add pictures and locations to status updates. Users that select the option can make a search query, with previews for the contents of the pages that turn up. Users can then add the links to the pages on their status, along with a caption.

The search results for the engine are seemingly sorted according to what the user will most likely share, with highlights on recently published pages that have been shared by many users.

"We're piloting a new way to add a link that's been shared on Facebook to your posts and comments," said Facebook in a statement to TechCrunch, adding that the trial run can only be accessed by a small number of users in the United States.

Facebook also said that it has indexed more than one trillion posts to give users the ability to search for links that have been shared with them, which means that Facebook's search engine uses data that Google will not be able to search for.

Once the feature is made available to all Facebook users, doing a Google search or browsing through the News Feed will no longer be required to find a certain link for sharing. In addition, it will be easier for users to share news and other original content on their News Feeds, which would create more space for Facebook to place advertisements.

The "Add A Link" feature will also give Facebook structured data on a user's preferences on news and publishers, along with the preferences of a user's friends if they like or share the page that a user posted.

Facebook has grown into a very important source of referral traffic on the Internet, with 25 percent of all social media referrals coming from the social network late last year. In comparison, Twitter contributed only 0.88 percent. With the new feature, Facebook will be able to keep its percentage high so that publishers will be attracted to push their own content into the social network, with formats that are appealing to Facebook users. Publishers will also have more incentives to purchase advertisements to amplify their reach.

No definite date was revealed by Facebook on when the feature will be released to the general public.

Photo: Marco Paköeningrat | Flickr

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