Posted on February 15th, 2013 | No comments yet
Graph Search is a new search engine exclusive to Facebook that was created to provide users with highly relevant and recommended results to their queries. Beyond the basic functionality, Facebook Graph Search is the future of what could potentially be a powerful marketing tool for businesses that know how to use it.
The engine, though highly beneficial to users and poised to give Google a run for its money, will impact more than just user search. Local and online businesses will feel its effects as their popularity on Facebook will shift to mean the difference between ranking in Facebook Search and being drowned out by the competition.
Graph Search is in an early beta stage so it is currently not available to the masses. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced it a month ago and since then it has created quite a buzz in the community.
What is it?
In part, Facebook Graph Search is a search engine similar to Google, but it is exclusive to the Facebook community. It uses data from your personal history along with likes and activity from your social network to generate results for your queries. When you post a search query, the graph will return with relevant, highly targeted answers based on data pulled from the network’s likes and interests.
For example, you may want to search for restaurants to visit in London when you are on your business trip, but you don’t want to eat in a place that is not highly rated. To receive targeted results and/or recommendations, Facebook will answer your query with a list of restaurants based on users’ recommendations instead of a random dataset categorized only by location.
If you run a restaurant in London, you will want your business to appear in the search results returned from the above query (more on that later).
You can search for just about anything using Graph Search. Perform a search based on people, interests, location and photos. If Facebook users “liked” it, commented on it or added it to their profiles, you can search for it.
Looking for a good book recommendation?
People who still live in your old neighborhood?
Doctors or attorneys in your area?
A video on knitting?
You can search for anything you desire and receive targeted results from popular brands that are well-optimized for Graph Search.
How Graph Search Affects Your Business
Facebook Graph Search may help you find the best local Thai restaurant, but how does it directly affect YOUR business?
Similar to how Google ranks search results based on more than 200 ranking factors, Facebook Graph Search has its own internal methods for ranking Pages and these signals involve likes and engagement.
The bottom line is that brands can no longer hide from Facebook marketing if they want to leverage the social platform to its fullest.
If your customers/clients/patients are on Facebook (hundreds of millions of people access it daily), they may use the engine to search for recommendations. If your business does not show up front and center in the search results, these potential leads may choose your competitor first.
Are we seeing another form of SEO emerging? FGO (Facebook Graph Optimization)?
Whatever you call it, the more fans and people who vote for your Page, the greater you will rise in Facebook’s Graph Search results. Page “likes” will become the new “links” because they represent a vote of confidence toward your brand.
It’s not enough to simply create a Facebook profile and visit it whenever you remember. Doing so will never land you a place in the coveted search results, especially if your competitors are active on the network. You must optimize your Facebook Page, engage with fans and get more likes if you want to compete.
How to Optimize Your Page for Graph Search
At a minimum, the following tips are essential for optimizing your Page:
Both Facebook and Google use keywords to return relevant search results to users. For Facebook Graph Search, think of these keywords as your…
- Page name
- Keywords used in your About section
- Page category and sub-category
Facebook Graph Search takes this one step further and combines the relationship between your categories and sub-categories with keywords and engagement to rank results, so all are essential components of successful Facebook optimization.
At a minimum…
- Choose a Facebook vanity url
- Add relevant keywords to your About description
- Choose a relevant category and sub-category. Local businesses can choose up to three.
- Local businesses – add your full address and contact information.
- Tag your company photos with your name and location, if applicable
Now for the real stuff…
To perform well in Facebook’s Graph Search, you must actively engage and grow your Facebook fan Page. This equates to more than an occasional update and comment on a post. The more active you are, the greater your chance of landing a spot in Facebook’s search results.
Consider posting at least 4-5 times a week or more. Post engaging questions and queries and different types of media including images and videos.
Engage: When fans comment on your posts, answer them back. Address them individually by using their name in your comments. “Like” their comments and show them you are genuinely interested in their opinions. If they feel wanted, they will continue to engage with you.
Garnering “Likes” and increasing your fan base is not as easy as it may seem. And with Facebook’s new EdgeRank protocols (determines how many fans see your Page posts), your post exposure is limited to only a small percentage of your fans…unless you open your wallet and advertise.
There are some free methods that will help you increase your fan base and exposure but they require a lot of work and time. In contrast, Facebook advertising is an effective way to increase your reach relatively quickly which will prepare your fan Page for the official launch of Facebook Graph Search.
Timing is Important
We have been watching a trend evolve over the last year. As time progresses, Facebook marketing will become more difficult and expensive, and brand building will entail more than garnering a few likes and comments. That’s why it’s important to position your business for success right now and take advantage of Facebook’s low cost advertising to build your brand and prepare for Facebook Graph Search.
Are you ready for Facebook Graph Search?