Rivalries have pervaded our society as long as we can remember. Pepsi vs. Coke; Leno vs. Letterman; Frazier vs. Ali…
…And now Facebook vs. Google.
Facebook and Google have been at odds for years, but the introduction of Facebook’s new search engine, Graph Search, fueled the fire of this battle.
Facebook rolled out Graph Search earlier this year, but officially released it to the US in August. Graph Search is Facebook’s proprietary search engine that serves users data based on social activity on the platform.
Businesses, Take Notice!
Similar to Google, Graph Search is a search engine. As a business, you may know that optimizing your online presence to position your company to rise to the top of the search results for users’ queries is vitally important.
But, with the introduction of Graph Search, a new algorithm is in town, and it has nothing to do with Google. And, in some ways, it is superior over Google. We will discuss why in this article.
What is Graph Search?
You most likely have already used the engine without even realizing it. If you ever searched on Facebook for a restaurant in a specific location or a spa near your home, you have used the search engine.
What is included in Graph Search results?
When you input a query into Graph Search, Facebook spits out pages of results. What is listed in these results?
All public Facebook Pages (yes, yours!), and posts, images, or website pages a user has “Liked.”
The important point here is that user activity (Likes) determines the availability and ranking of a search result returned to user queries. Can you see the importance of generating more “Likes” and engagement on your Facebook Pages (more on this later)?
Let’s take a look at a typical search on Facebook and how Graph Search returns results:
This is the screen you will see when you click on the search results bar:
Facebook allows users to search for people, places and other queries (or you can type in a custom query).
When I click “People I may know,” Facebook returns a list of people I may know based on my current friends and other personal information. If I want to pare this list down further to focus my results, I would click on the search result again and see the following screen:
Facebook used my personal data to allow me to further focus my query. If I dug down further and clicked the Los Angeles location, Facebook would show me results related to people in Los Angeles. Clicking on the next search result would focus my results even tighter.
Next, I typed the word “pizza” and these are the results I see.
I decide to click on “Pizza Places.” Facebook will then return to me pizza places in my area.
Next, I wanted to find out restaurants in New York my friends visited, so I started typing out the phrase below and these are the suggestions Facebook offered.
Clicking on the “Deer Park, NY” search result led me to a unique results page that factors in the activity of my social circle.
Pretty cool, huh? With Facebook Graph Search, users can query anything and everything.
Looking for book recommendations?
A dentist or esthetician in your local area?
Videos on caring for goldfish?
Music your friends love?
Try searching for anything you want and see how easy it is to receive targeted results.
How Facebook Ranks the Search Results
Google may have the market share when it comes to search engines, but Graph Search is superior to Google because of one fact: It uses the behavior of “friends” to return data to searchers.
If you wanted to buy a new car and you could either poll your friends and trusted peers, or car companies for recommendations, which one would you choose? Most likely, you would listen to recommendations of your friends instead of a biased car brand.
Facebook Graph Search is a search engine focused on user recommendations. The search results take into account data shared by businesses and the friends of the users performing the search. So, if Joe Smith searches for “deep dish pizza” in Chicago, it’s likely he will see results that correlate with pizza places his friends already “liked” on Facebook.
What does this mean for you?
Think of optimization for this new search engine as GSO (Graph Search Optimization). We know Google counts external links to our website as ranking factors. All social activity directed toward our Facebook Pages can act as votes, similar to how Google refers to links.
The more “check-ins,” “Likes” and “Shares” on your Page and content, the greater chance you will be featured in the top results.
The bottom line: Engagement is crucial if you want to rank well in Facebook’s search engine.
Optimize Your Profile
Social activity/engagement is just one of the ways Facebook ranks data. Both Google and Facebook use keywords to understand what your site is about!
Facebook takes cues from your Page to determine the nature of your business. This is why it is imperative to fill out your entire Facebook Page profile information and keep it up-to-date.
Here are some tips:
1. Facebook looks at your Page name, About section, category and sub-category to search for keywords about your business. It uses these to rank your Facebook Page in Graph Search results. Add relevant keywords to your About section and choose the appropriate categories.
TIP: Think about the keywords people use to find your site on Google. Incorporate these into your profile.
2. Select a Facebook vanity URL if you have not already
3. For local businesses – Add your address, city, contact information and hours.
4. Tag your images with your name and location. Facebook users can search for image results and tagging will help users find your images.
5. Ensure the data on your business Facebook Page is set to Public if you list a location.
Another Cool Trick
You can thank Jon Loomer for this next trick. Jon is a Facebook expert and someone I admire in the industry. Check out his blog if you want to expand your knowledge on all things Facebook marketing.
Here are more “undercover” ways to use Facebook Graph Search to enhance your business:
- Learn more about your Facebook fans – Search for people similar to those who Like your Page. Use this data to craft focused marketing campaigns or more specifically target your Facebook ads (can anyone say custom audiences?).
Here is an example:
Notice the search query. Simply substitute your business for “Lady Content.”
- Focus on specific interests – Perform a search query similar to the one below to discover precise interests for your Facebook ads targeting.
- Mix it up! Filter the search results by changing up the query:
“Pages liked by marketers who like Lady Content” – target an occupation
“Pages liked by men who like Lady Content” – target a gender, age or location
“Restaurants liked by people who like Pizza Hut” – target it towards your industry
Take advantage of Facebook Graph Search and optimize your Pages to discover yet another traffic stream for your business.
Have you used Graph Search yet? What do you think?