It has been three months since Facebook started to roll-out Facebook Graph Search, but there is still little known about what it does, and even less known about what the implications of it are. This blog post aims to shed a little light on this new and potentially game-changing tool.

What is it?

Facebook has a huge database of information that it collects from its one billion users. With last year’s IPO, it is under pressure to turn this big data into revenue, and Facebook Graph Search is a means of achieving this. It is a semantic search tool, meaning that it looks for the context of your search, not just the words of your search (e.g. if you searched for boiler, it will try and work out if you are looking to purchase a boiler, or looking to find an engineer to service one).

The first port of call for Facebook Graph Search is the user’s network of friends. It will then look to information shared by users who are not listed as friends, but whose privacy settings are set to public. And finally, it will supplement the search results directly from Microsoft’s Bing search engine. In the future, it is likely that Instagram photos will appear in search results, but I think this is something for 2014.

What does it mean?

I think that it would be wrong to think that this is a threat to Google’s dominance of search. For me, I think they are different tools – Google uses the whole of the web to search for matching page results relating to user keywords (although it is becoming stronger with semantic search, it is still keyword-based). Facebook Graph Search uses a network of data which is driven by your Facebook friends to find semantic search results. So, what should you do to prepare for Facebook Graph Search?

  • Check your personal privacy settings – if you have a personal Facebook page and your privacy settings are set to public, you may appear in search results from people that you don’t know. You have been warned!
  • Update your Company page – make sure that your company page categorises your business correctly, so that you appear only in the most relevant searches
  • If your business has a physical presence, encourage fans to check-in using Facebook Places – this will be viewed as an endorsement of your service and will help you in search results

Facebook Graph Search may level the playing field of search. A small business with a Facebook page which has loyal fans can compete with companies whose huge budgets help them score highly in SEO and PPC.

What do you think about Facebook Graph Search? Game-changer or just the next fad?

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