Facebook began 2013 by announcing its latest online venture into the world of search. The announcement of Facebook Graph Search has taken the traditional search standards and changed them into an almost completely different experience for the user. It has been touted to be the first real challenger to traditional search. This seems like the natural progression of search and evolution of search is something that we’re not unfamiliar with.
Facebook graph search works using natural language queries returning results from a users own network. Instead of the typical list of links, that you would see from the likes of Google and Bing, Facebook graph search returns pages, photos and profiles based on a natural language query. One example would be Restaurants in London that my friends have been to. It would return a results of local pages that your friends have checked into in that location. It may also return external results due to the partnership with Bing, but I’m yet to read of any evidence of this.
How will results be ranked
Ranking factors are still very much guesswork at the moment, but there are a few known factors that can be used by businesses to improve their ranking in results.
Photos and Videos are regarded as quality content as these will drive engagement. Posts with these regularly see increased engagement levels.
Businesses and brands with multiple locations should claim their local pages for all physical locations. This will help to increase their local search results visibility.
Engagement with customers through local data can increase visibility. This can be done through check-ins and promotions and also via customer reviews on local pages.
Graph search will examine the connections of the searchers network to find content liked by friends, friends of friends or publicly shared content.
There has been no official mention of advertising being added into the graph search results, although there have been ad placements being tested on the results pages. They are not yet optimised to the users search query, but it shows that this idea is being worked on due to the huge avenue it would open for Facebook to generate revenue.
There may be Sponsored results included in the results similar to those in traditional search engines that would receive a higher placing or a more prominent listing compared to others.
This is just speculation at the moment and may never amount to anything, but I would be surprised if this was the case.
The success of this new method of search is something that certainly has the potential to be great, although it all depends on the user. Having become accustomed to traditional search methods of using keywords, the natural language approach may not be as immediately fluent as Facebook hope.
Facebook definitely have the user base for it to be a success, with over 665 million daily active users spending on average 20 minutes on Facebook per visit.
Only time will tell I suppose, but I’m excited to see Facebook graph search in action.
About Bob Gentle
I'm the MD at NEC. I work with clients on strategy and digital marketing and lead research and development in this quickly evolving area.