Although we're in the early days of social search, it's growing fast, and marketers should allocate more resources toward improving their Facebook visibility. Now is the time to make relevant connections as the average person gets used to "likes" becoming a regular part of their life.
The link between social media and SEO are no longer limited to improving a website's ranking within Google and Bing search results. This has become even clearer now that Facebook has expanded the release of its Graph Search abilities to include all English speaking users in the U.S. -- a big move for the social media juggernaut into the world of search. The Graph Search creates personalized results unique to each user based on their social connections. While the beta version of Facebook Graph Search was released in January, it was limited to a smaller number of users.
In fact, Facebook Graph Search is still limited due to the average person's lack of interest in giving a Facebook "like" to every professional, brand, and place they have positive feelings toward. In the future, however, it could be extremely resourceful as brands are able to make the case for placing a greater emphasis on earning "likes." As a result, people's "liking" habits will grow and rankings will improve within Facebook search.
Facebook "likes" can be compared to Google's version of links. In the early days of the internet, a website owner had little incentive to focus efforts on earning links or linking directly to other websites. As Google's PageRank significantly increased and became better known, the old mentality has drastically shifted to where we stand in today's digital world. Relevant links now appear often within publisher's articles and brands allocate significant resources toward earning links from these publishers.
Examples of Facebook's current search abilities:
- Real estate agents in New York City who are friends of my friends
- Hotels in Boston, Massachusetts that my friends "like"
- Tourist attractions in Orlando, Florida that my friends visited and "liked"
Users then have the ability to narrow their search with filters or expand results to include items such as pictures, videos, and additional connections related to the original search.
In the near future, Graph Search will likely expand to:
- Cars my friends "like" who "like" "Fast and the Furious"
- Companies my friends work for in New York City who are hiring
- Shoe brands my friends "like" who run marathons
While Facebook never included a "dislike" button, it may eventually allow users to identify places visited by their friends which failed to earn a "like." If someone is active enough on Facebook to check-in at a destination, it's a safe assumption that they are prone to giving a "like" to places they enjoy.
According to Facebook, using "not" in this search is not yet supported. This means that in the future, it's possible that not earning a Facebook "like" could actually hurt your brand.