On Tuesday of this week, Facebook finally made their big announcement a lot of search marketers have been waiting for – the launch of their own search engine. Launched in beta only for know, Graph Search is Facebook’s attempt to bring greater connection and meaning to “more than a billion people, more than 240 billion photos and more than a trillion connections on Facebook.
Right now, Graph Search focus on four main areas of Facebook data – People (i.e. “friends who like cooking), Photos (“photos of my friends in Germany”), Places (“restaurants liked by my friends in Portland”) and Interests (“music my friends like”). Those example I just described is exactly how Graph Search works – it’s about uses phrases to reveal connections between interests and likes among your friends on Facebook (and if they’re not friends, then only what they’ve made public to other Facebook users).
There are a great deal of posts about the potential impact on Graph Search including your privacy, the impact on Foursquare & Yelp, the impact on Facebook engagement and even online dating. I will also be doing a in-depth follow up once I have access to Graph Search, but here are the most important things business owners need to know about this new feature:
- This is NOT a direct competitor to Google…at least not yet. Graph Search is only limited to People, Places, Photos and Interests. Keywords you use on Google won’t work the same way on G.S. For example, you might search for “hip-hop” on Google to find information on the latest albums, but in G.S. a search would be “friends who like Jay-Z.” It’s about the connections between people and not connections between web pages. There are no events or products yet in G.S., so consumers could still use Google to find the latest concert or running shoes.
- Facebook Pages become even more important, especially if you are a physical location. If you are a restaurant or spa for example and don’t have a presence on Facebook, you won’t be found for the search “restaurants my friends have been to” or “restaurants liked by people in New York.” Simple as that.
- Interaction is even more important, including Likes and Ratings. Part of the algorithms that will power the search results in G.S. include the number of Likes, Check-Ins, and Ratings from Facebook users. But it’s still also about creating engaging content on Facebook that your users will respond to. Paying a third-party service to send 5,000 likes to your page probably won’t help you get higher in G.S.
- Bing still plays a big role. If a G.S. query doesn’t involve the four categories at launch, Bing will display traditional web search results instead. This means that traditional notion of SEO can help your website rank higher and it’s critical to sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools to monitor how Bing views your website.
- There are ads too! Bing’s involvement mentioned above isn’t limited to organic search results. Bing Ads will also be displayed along the right hand side of the search results. If you’re running PPC ads through Google AdWords or Facebook’s own Marketplace Ads, it’s seriously time to consider fitting Bing Ads within your budget. The true success of Graph Search isn’t yet known as it’s only in beta to a few thousand users, but there’s over a billion Facebook users total. That’s a huge market to display ads to.
If you’d like to get on the waiting list for Graph Search, you can visit this page to sign-up. For those lucky enough to to get started though, what do you think so far?