If you’ve dabbled in search engine optimization and social media, you probably feel like every time you turn around, they – whoever they are – have changed the rules. As soon as you get into your comfort zone, the rug is whisked out from under your feet and you suddenly need to learn a whole new way of looking at your web presence. It can be downright frustrating!
The newest source of frustration, which you may have heard of, is Facebook Graph Search. You probably don’t have it yet – it’s still in the testing phase and so only a handful of Facebook users have access. It was only announced in mid-January, but it’s getting a lot of attention!
Facebook’s Graph Search will let users ask questions and get recommendations and answers based on what their friends like, what people with certain interests like, or what the larger Facebook community likes. The assumption is that users will use Graph Search (versus, say, Yelp) to search for things like businesses, restaurants, lawyers, and service pros because they trust their network’s opinions more than anonymous reviews on other sites.
That means a couple of things for businesses. First, that likes are suddenly a lot more important since that’s how Graph Search determines your company’s relative importance among different networks. If you’ve been ignoring Facebook or letting days or weeks go by without interacting with your fan base, it’s time to step up your social media game. And if you’ve ever bought likes, you should think about never doing that again.
Can you optimize for Graph Search?
At the moment, there aren’t any clear metrics for doing so. Optimizing for Graph Search will inevitably become another weapon in your marketing arsenal but since this tool is just out of the gate, how people and businesses use it will more than likely evolve over time. Right now, we don’t know much about its limitations, its oveall usefulness, and whether the Facebook user base will embrace it or shun it.
So what do we know about optimizing for Graph Search…
You’ll get the most value if your Facebook page is fully built out with your logo, a brand-consistent cover photo, contact info, hours, location, and service menu. You also need to update your page regularly – and to experiment with the kinds of content that will really resonate with your audience. And make sure you’re pointing customers and potential customers toward your Facebook page with social icons on your website, email newsletter, and blog
Engagement is a key element of Graph Search, because shares are what ultimately bring in more likes. Be accessible! Give your audience lots of valuable content and they’ll be more likely to want to share it without any prompting at all. That’s how things go viral and when that happens, the likes will come rolling in – increasing your visibility in Graph Search.
It’s still up in the air whether the links of today will become the likes of tomorrow, but what we do know is that social engagement is becoming an increasingly important element of optimization on and off Facebook. SEO is about more than just keywords these days. Shares and likes may just determine your business’ website placement in the search engines someday. Already, if you’re a company or a sole proprietor without a Facebook page, you’re an anathema – in a few years, it may just mean you’re a dinosaur.
Don’t become a dinosaur
Google and other search engines like Bing are taking steps to integrate search and social, and Facebook’s Graph Search may be what tips the scales in favor of true social searches.
Are you a Graph Search beta user?