Graph Search Optimization

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Published August 7, 2013 by Brad Knutson
Graph Search Optimization

Earlier today, Facebook officially rolled out graph search for everyone in US English. The news was widely circulated amongst social media and marketing circles, but it seems to have been brushed off by regular folks, and chalked up as just another minor Facebook update.

Just another Facebook update?

Social search is something that inherently makes sense, but has not been tapped into yet. Graph Search is our gateway into the social search world. It remains to be seen, but many believe that it will revolutionize search. Of course, social signals have influence on search results today, but social search is a whole new ballgame.

Mashable reported a study that showed that 70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends. You read that correctly. Beginning to see why social combined with search can be a powerful marketing tool?

Graph search is not just another Facebook update. It’s the start of a movement, and now is the time to start thinking about optimizing our campaigns so we can take full advantage of it.

Facebook Graph Search

First things first – get your listing right

The best way to utilize graph search is to have an optimized Facebook Page. Graph search does have a “web search” option that runs on Bing search results, but it only appears when Facebook has exhausted all other avenues and has no results. As far as graph search, your optimization starts on your Facebook Page.

It might seem obvious, but it’s overlooked far too often. Run a few searches yourself and you’ll likely come across some results that have incorrect or incomplete listings.

Graph Search - Listings

As you’ll see in this screenshot I took, there are duplicate listings, some with incorrect addresses, listings that are missing profile images, websites are missing, lack of ratings, and so on. If you were to see any of these listings, would you click on any of them? Doubtful.

This is what proper Facebook Page listings look like in graph search.

Graph Search - Optimized Listings

All of these listings are properly optimized with addresses, websites, ratings, hours of operations, and more.

A few key points to consider when creating or updating your Facebook Page.

  • Facebook Page title and URL should be branded – easily recognizable by consumers. Try to stay away from keywords here.
  • Description and About page should be optimized with proper focused keywords, just like you would for regular search, but still be relevant to consumers. Don’t just keyword stuff!
  • Choose the appropriate category.
  • Eliminate duplicate listings, if necessary
  • Address and contact information needs to be 100% accurate.
  • Create and use eye-catching profile images and cover images.
  • Keep your page up-to-date at all times.

These tips will make your Facebook Page accessible and memorable. This of course, is only a small portion of the graph search battle.

Get people talking about your brand

Facebook hasn’t released much information on the graph search result algorithm, but if I may state a cliche – “the writing is on the wall.” It’s obvious that Facebook likes are the driving factor behind the algorithm. Location and likes, those are the two most important signals.

When I run various searches, it becomes clear that pages that my friends have liked appear at the top of the list. In the absence of any of my connections having engaged with a page, the pages overall number of likes drives the rankings.

It seems pretty simple right? The more likes you get, the more you’ll appear in search results. On the surface, that is true, and should be your ultimate goal, but there are ways we can leverage this knowledge to get even more impressions.

Let’s recap what we know. When our friends like pages, they are more likely to show up in appropriate graph search results. So how do we maximize our reach? It’s obvious isn’t it? It’s not any different than any other social media campaign. We target influential individuals.

If the right people find our content, and they deem that content worth sharing, their interaction is worth far more than a Kip Dordy’s is. To accomplish this, we cater our content towards the “right” people.

Use tools like Klout and Followerwonk to find influential individuals in your niche. Reach out to them, cater content specifically towards them, and make attempts to get them to like and share your content.

Share worthwhile and worthy content

One way to attract consumers and new likes is by posting content that is worthy of being shared. Others will see your content on their feeds, and if they, in turn, like your content, they will also like your page. This isn’t a new concept.

Images and video are more likely to be shared, because they catch peoples eyes. Posting pictures of your products isn’t going to cut it. Create interesting looking images or videos, infographics, and memes. Treat this like you would any other viral marketing campaign.

On site optimization

The last tactic you should use to optimize your graph search presence is to direct people to your Facebook page. Make sure you put a like button on all your content pages, and make your Facebook Page accessible with a link or widget in the sidebar or footer of your blog section. Share your page across your other social media accounts.

Another technique that is often overlooked is the use of Open Graph meta tags. We already know that images and video are more likely to be shared than just text links, and utilizing Open Graph meta tags makes your content more shareable by enabling graphics and video to be posted along with your link whenever someone shares your content.

In the end it doesn’t really matter how someone gets to your page and likes it, it just matters that they do. Graph Search has significantly increased the marketing value of a Facebook Like.

A word on Facebook Ads

I’m a big believer in organic over paid results, but it’s clear that Facebook has developed Graph Search as a means to monetize Facebook even further.

Starting a Facebook Page campaign and generating likes and engagement can be difficult, more difficult than we’d like to admit. You may only generate a few new likes a week, even if you are doing everything right. You may decide to run a Facebook Ad campaign to kickstart your campaign, and if you have the budget for it – this may be a good option.

When running Facebook campaigns, always keep Graph Search in the back of your mind. The same rules for Graph Search apply to running ad campaigns – make your content worth sharing, and you’ll get better results. Target your audience, and you’ll get a better consumer base and more engagement out of your audience.

Carefully choose your ad campaign parameters to specifically target individuals who would benefit your business if they were customers. Graph Search is inherently local, so target individuals around your physical location. Target specific age ranges and interests to make sure that the person who will see your ad will be interested in what you have to offer.

Graph Search - Running an Ad Campaign

If you target your audience properly, Facebook Ad campaigns can launch your marketing efforts to where you want to be extremely quickly.

Final Thoughts

It seems clear to me that Graph Search is just the start in a social search revolution that was bound to happen sooner or later. Social media platforms need to make money, and what better way to monetize their platform than to provide tailored search results in the app? Would people pay to be at the top of these results? Absolutely.

Graph Search Optimization is something that hasn’t really been talked about a whole lot up until now, but I see that changing quickly. Facebook is too large to ignore, and if you are a local business looking for more revenue, Graph Search may be a channel that you could really benefit from.

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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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2 thoughts on “Graph Search Optimization

  1. Spook SEO

    Thanks for the post Brad. I always thought that social media (specifically Facebook) is going to step up their game.

    I wonder though… If Facebook keeps this up, chances are the usage of search engines like Google will surely be affected BIG TIME.

    1. Brad Knutson Post author

      I’m not sure if Graph Search will take a significant chunk out of Google’s search numbers, but it will definitely have an impact.

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