How Facebook’s “Graph Search” Can Grow Your Business

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Image by: Steven Mileham
By Michael Sterling

The Facebook Graph Search has been available for nearly seven months and Facebook expects to extend this new feature to everyone by the end of 2013. Though it has brought mostly positive feedback, the area it has most potential is in small to medium-sized businesses. In the coming months, how can we take advantage of it’s secrets? The answer literally lies at our fingertips.

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What Is Graph Search, In A Nutshell?

Graph Search allows users to type in queries and get answers based on their friends’ and connections’ engagement. For example, if you type in something like “awesome bars to go to in Boston,” Facebook will pull up bars where your friends have either checked in, taken a photo of, or “liked” in the past.

Though it seems great for a user, to a business there is a bit more than meets the eye, and it lies in a term called “search rankings.”

Search rankings is the collective engagement your page has, and the more it contains the higher up you will show when the user types their question. Likes, shares, posts, comments, check-ins and everything else now has more value than it’s ever had before.

Happy Customers Bring Happy Customers

It used to be when someone “Liked” your page, it showed up on their profile and that was the end of it. Search rankings might put a little pressure on you to be more interactive with patrons, but the secret really lies in customer satisfaction. This gets them to check in, like your page, and write a review. Here are a few ideas on how to get there:

  • Photo Opportunities – Try and get your customers to take pictures, most likely they will tag your business in the location and increase your search rankings. Birthdays, family night outs, and other celebrations are great opportunities.
  • Recommendation Incentives – The new recommendation feature is crucial because it shoots your search rankings sky high. Offer incentives like half price deals or specials for those who recommend your page, and treat them like family.
  • Posts – It’s not just your account page that needs to be liked anymore. Be sure to post deals, photos (preferably ones that will be liked/shared), and controversial news that tie into your business. Asking questions like “What’s your favorite ____?” will get them involved and increase engagement.

“Place” vs. “Company” Pages In The Search Engine

Addresses play a big role now, especially for businesses who market by location. But if you’re an international company, the address won’t matter as much. This was proven by a case study led by Pursuit Magazine which involved Wymoo, an international company, and Long Island Private Investigator (LIPI), a localized company.

If you’re a local company, it’s best to use a local business or “place” page. This keeps you connected when users search local companies within your proximity. However if you don’t have a localized market, it’s best to build a “company” page, even if your headquarters are in a certain city. This makes for a more satisfied search experience.

Graph Search is more specific to a user’s needs than it was before. The search engine will be able to detect what it is a user wants in a more concise translation, therefore, kicking opposing businesses out of the way. If you have a “company” page, your less likely to be put against a “place” page, and have more chances to appeal to the customer.

Since LIPI set up a “place” page, they weren’t faced with competition by the likes of bigger international companies like Wymoo who had a company page. Keep this in mind. The type of page you have will ultimately affect your search potential. Make sure you have the right page for your business.

Keywords & URLS

Keywords are going to play a big part in Graph Search so be sure you choose specific subcategories, ones that make it easier for users to find you. You can choose these categories when you create a page, and edit them later if you want to. Think of descriptions which best describe your services, like “Italian Food” or “Irish Pub” or “Legal Service.”

URLs are another huge way of getting spotted in a search. By adding descriptions within the URL itself, you increase your pages chances even more. In Pursuit’s case study, Long Island Private Investigator already had a valuable keyword in their name, so their URL is “facebook.com/longislandbrivateinvestigator” and they have shown to see a steady increase in traffic.

*Tip: Descriptive words are best. Don’t use general words like food, travel, or beauty – give more detail. “coffee” or “cocktails” or “Mexican food” are more likely to grab specific users.

Descriptive Pages

It’s important to understand that people will not be drawn to your website, instead, they’re sent to your Facebook page. This is why you need the page not only to pop, but also act like your website. Offer everything your website offers, except make it an interactive forum.