Facebook intros on-the-fly search result suggestions

People will see a drop-down list of suggested results as they type in queries in the search box

Facebook has revamped its search engine so that suggested results drop down from the search box as people type in their queries.

Until now, Facebook users had to finish entering their query and hit "return" in order to see any search results, so this new functionality is intended to help people find what they're looking for more quickly and interactively.

This has been a common feature of search engines for years, but it sometimes takes Facebook longer to incorporate functionality into its search engine because it faces special challenges. To be truly useful, its search results have to be customized on the fly for each of the site's more than 400 million users, the company has said in the past.

Search results on Facebook are based on elements like users' profile content and actions; list of friends, groups, fan pages and events; people in their work and school networks; recently-viewed profiles and pages; and contacts and applications in common with friends and with friends of friends.

Facebook promises that search relevance on the site will improve with its new suggested results feature. "You'll see a wider variety of relevant results and be able to discover new connections you might want to make on Facebook right as you're entering your search," wrote Wayne Kao, a Facebook engineer, in an official blog announcement.

If the desired result isn't on the drop-down list of suggestions, users can click on the "See More Results" link to go to the conventional results page, which will likely contain more items.

While search presents a technical challenge to Facebook, the company has said it is a critical component to the user experience because the better the results are, the more engaged people will become on the site.

The new search box functionality is being rolled out over the next few days to all users.