Imagine this: It’s Friday evening and you’re making last-minute dinner plans with friends. Tired of your usual local spots, you type the following query into the search bar: “fun restaurants nearby.” The search pulls up a list of restaurants within a 10-mile radius of your current location, sorted by the number of likes and check-ins from your social network.
Facebook’s new Graph Search aims to do exactly that–make online search personal.
The implications of Graph Search for users are clear: Facebook members will soon gain access to a searchable database of their friends’ interests and whereabouts. However, the initial impact of Graph Search on businesses is often not so obvious.
Below are a few ideas about what Graph Search means for businesses:
1. SEO is no longer limited to keywords
With Facebook’s Graph Search, social credibility is the new SEO. In other words, the number of Facebook likes, shares, and posts will determine search engine rank. Because Graph Search results are based on “real world referral traffic,” or recommendations from users’ social networks, it’s more important than ever for businesses to cultivate their Facebook presence.
One way that companies can facilitate social sharing is to offer social plugins that make it easy for online audiences to interact with other users and share certain behaviors with their social networks. For instance, an e-commerce site could offer exclusive promotions to customers that publish and share product reviews with their social networks such as Facebook. By making the interactions on their websites more social, brands can encourage desired social behaviors on Facebook and boost their Graph Search results.
2. The Like could become the new link
As Likes replace links as a major SEO driver, businesses can no longer ignore the importance of integrating social infrastructure into their web channels. Social is the new currency, and brands that want to keep up need to encourage user engagement with their Facebook presence.
Because Graph Search results will initially show content that members of users’ social networks have interacted with, businesses with higher social engagement will enjoy increased search visibility. Thus, brands should make it easy for users to share content with their Facebook networks by implementing social plugins such as share buttons on their websites to push content to Facebook.
3. Traditional search is becoming social
Even traditional search engines like Google and Bing have taken steps to integrate social into search in the past year: Google’s Search Plus Your World and Bing’s Social Search both incorporate friends’ online activity into web search results. As social networks evolve from social channels for online interactions into credible sources for finding and discovering new information, online user engagement is now a measurable indicator of SEO.
Facebook’s Graph Search opens up new opportunities for companies that are able to create relevancy around their brands by deeply integrating social into their web experience. It is, however, up to the companies themselves to adapt to the changing landscape by giving users what they want–a more connected, social web experience.
-Emma Tzeng, Marketing @gigya
By Emma Tzeng