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These rumours included Facebook Mobile & an external search engine, but the most popular rumour turned out to be spot on - Facebook has radically overhauled their internal search function in a move that should frighten other social networks, traditional search engines and privacy advocates alike.
There are already tons of posts about the new search function and very few people have access yet (you can sign up for beta here), so instead we are going to focus on how brands (and individuals) can optimise to appear higher and more frequently in search results. One of those lucky few to get early access was Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, so head over there for a full run down of how Facebook Graph Search works.
It's very interesting that Facebook is the first social network to bring out a search engine like this. On our SEO courses and social media workshops we emphasise how you can use social media to help rank better in search engines, maybe now we'll have to include a section on using SEO to rank better in social networks!
How Does Visibility Work with Facebook Graph Search?
Mark Zuckerberg may claim that Graph Search isn't a direct competitor to Google, but it's still a search engine and so there will always be ways to rank higher. Facebook have managed to produce something that Google have been working on for a while - an Internet of Things. Instead of a database of web pages, they have a database of information on things - likes, photos, businesses, people, jobs, locations and many more - and can distinguish between these items.
Your visibility rests on how your business is connected to searchers - the more of their friends have connected with you, the more visible you are in their search results. But this can be just one of many factors affecting your visibility, including:
- Total number of likes
- Total number of check-ins
- The level of engagement on your page
- How often people talk about your business
- The frequency that people check in/ engage
- The recency of check-ins/ engagement
- Your location
- Your potential reach (are your likes/check-ins just local or are people coming from further afield?)
There are likely to be many more I haven't thought of, and the impact of each is determined by the type of search performed.
If a searcher is looking for businesses their friends like, then that will be the major factor. If they're looking for businesses in their area then total likes and of course location will have more of an impact.
But it's not just friends! You can search using an overwhelming number of factors. My favourite example of this is again from Danny Sullivan - "Search for Restaurants run by employees of a particular cooking school". So it's not just about number of connections, but about the type and value of those connections.