Facebook’s Graph Search: Impact on SEO

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Published March 26, 2013 by Brad Knutson
Facebook Graph Search

In January, Facebook introduced it’s newest innovation, Graph Search. Facebook offered beta looks for users who opt in, which I chose to take advantage of. You can opt in too by going to this link: https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch.

On the most basic level, Graph Search is a social search engine. Facebook describes it as:

Find more of what you’re looking for through your friends and connections.

Once you get Graph Search activated, you’ll notice your navigation bar looks different at the top of your facebook page.

Facebook Graph Search

Punch in a search query. Facebook auto-fills your search query, much like real search engines, but with a social twist. Facebook’s suggested search queries have a strong preference towards local queries and people/places/things your connections have liked.

Facebook Graph Search Autofill

Your search results will first pull data from your Facebook connections, then fall back on Facebook’s business partner Bing for web results. If you search for “Restaurants” or “Local Bars” you’ll be given a list of establishments that your friends have recommended on Facebook.

Graph Search Results

A key aspect to note here, is that these search results are actually links to Facebook Pages for the establishments, not search results. That means that if you run a business, and don’t have a Facebook Page, you won’t show up in these types of Graph Searches!

These results show your connections that have liked the page, location and contact information, hours, a link to a map, and recommendations of similar establishments.

Run another search, but this time put “my friends who like” at the beginning of the query.

Facebook Graph Search Results

These search results show a list or a grid of your Facebook friends who match your search query. This could be useful in a number of situations. What if you bought one too many tickets to a concert, and want to know if anyone you know would be willing to buy one? What if you just finished reading an awesome book and you want to discuss it with someone? Graph Search can give you a list of people who will match your search query.

OK, so what about the search queries that Facebook won’t have data for based on your connections? This is where Facebook’s relationship with Bing comes in. When Facebook lacks the data to answer your question, it will give you the option to run a “web search” (much like Siri does on iPhones).

Facebook Graph Search Bing Search

The resulting page looks like the SERPs we all know and love. It matches a regular Bing search pretty well, with only a few differences.

Facebook Graph Search Bing Results

  1. Facebook makes it’s relationship with Bing known, with a “Powered by Bing” graphic in the upper right corner.
  2. Here, Facebook displays Facebook groups, pages and interests that match your search query.
  3. On the right hand side is the all too familiar ad space. I’m still unclear if these ads are generated solely by Bing, by Facebook, or some combination of the two. If you have any information on this, please let me know as I’m very interested to find out!

    Farther down the page you’ll see boxes labeled “Pages Related to…” and “Related Searches”.

  4. Your actual search results. These results match a regular Bing search pretty well, but Graph Search provides more social data the number of likes and shares, and a link to any related Facebook page.
  5. Another sponsored ad space.

Another GREAT feature of Graph Search is social exploration. Run a search query like “web developers” and you’ll get a list of people who are currently employed as web developers.

Facebook Graph Search Connections

Facebook first queries your connections and shows 2nd-degree connections before showing random people. This is great for everyone, because it allows you the opportunity to meet people in your niche and connect with them. I really like this feature.

Impact on SEO

I think the biggest thing you can take away from Graph Search is that you (unfortunately) cannot ignore Bing. Facebook is far and away the most popular social network on the internet today. The average person spends countless hours on Facebook every week, and it’s a very popular and competitive place to run ad and marketing campaigns. Facebook essentially rivals only Google as the main focus of SEOs and marketers alike.

To ensure you are taking full advantage of Graph Search, make sure you are:

  1. Make sure you have a Facebook Page for your business!
  2. Take advantage of Open Graph markup
  3. Build a large, strong and passionate following on Facebook by making personal connections! Likes, likes, likes and more likes!

Also, if Bing ads show up in Graph Search results, that could definitely increases your Bing ad campaign impressions, and if you have great optimized ads and products, your sales and conversions could increase. Like I said before, I’m still unclear about who is generating the ads shown in Graph Search, so if you know, leave a comment below!

There is my top-level intro to Graph Search. I find it a little bit clunky still, but hey, it’s still only in beta. When this thing is fully released to the entire world, it’s going to be huge.

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Founder at Inbounderish
Brad Knutson is a Web Developer in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. He has experience working with WordPress and Drupal, and also has an interest in SEO and Inbound Marketing.

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