As Facebook Graph Search evolves and marketers begin to come to grips with the opportunities provided from the social graph, it becomes clear that a combination of both search and social media tactics are required if brands aim to improve visibility in the graph search engine results.
Today, I would like to focus on how you can utilize SEO and social sharing best practices to both optimize your Facebook page and foster engagement.
The Graph Search Differentiator
Facebook Graph Search is based on a social graph, which means that a user’s search results are personalized based on his or her connections.
Compared to searching on Google or Bing and being presented with results from all across the Web based on keyword matches, Facebook Graph Search presents you with results from content shared only on Facebook. This is from a database of over one billion people, more than 240 billion photos and over a trillion social connections.
The content is limited due to on privacy settings, and the output is based around pages, apps, groups, photos and places.
While optimizing for Facebook Graph Search is not the same as optimizing a webpage for search, there are several techniques you can use to optimize your Facebook page based on SEO best practices. Once optimized for search, you can then focus on how to optimize for social engagement on these pages. It is a great example of the importance of social signals and the convergence of search and social media best practice.
Big Data & The Personal Social Graph
I have talked about the importance of big data in search and social and how utilizing the huge amount of content and social media data has fostered rapid innovation in the social graph space. Adding social layers to big data has allowed Facebook to take advantage of the some of the 3.3 billion pieces of content being shared on Facebook each month.
Facebook Graph Search is personal big data. It’s a search engine based on your network data (connections, likes, interests, etc.). Graph Search blends local, social and content data for individuals and (eventually) for businesses. In order for marketers to maximize opportunity from the Facebook Social Graph, there are a number of search and social based strategies and tactics that can be deployed.
Optimization For Facebook Graph Search
In the visual below, I have highlighted (from left to right) how marketers can leverage key search optimization techniques and social sharing best practices. The process below starts with optimizing your Facebook page and ends with how you engage and share content.
Page, URL & Title
Just as on-page optimization is vital to SEO, Facebook page optimization is the first place to start on your Graph Search strategy. Ensure that you have selected the appropriate category, and plan for your basic information (such as the short description and the elements on your About page) to contain descriptive keywords, just like search. Make sure your page is relevant, always up to date, and publicly viewable and sharable.
- Ensure your Page name and URL are direct, but natural and relevant to your brand/business
- Ensure users can find you by adding a link to your Facebook page from your website
- Invite friends to your page
Facebook Graph Search is a great tool for local and small businesses, and it is now more important than ever for these businesses to be active on Facebook. Users searching for a particular product or service can now easily find those recommended by their friends. In order for businesses to take advantage of Facebook Graph Search, a local listing and a local following are essential.
Danny Sullivan explains this in more detail while discussing Facebook Graph Search’s “multi-dimensional searches”:
Another difference is the layers of searching or refinement that Facebook Search offers compared to Google. For example, a Google search can show you restaurants in San Francisco, a pretty much single dimensional view. A Facebook search can show you restaurants in San Francisco liked by your friends. Or further, those liked by your friends who actually live in San Francisco, as opposed to those who live elsewhere. Or those liked by your single friends, your straight friends, your gay friends, your friends who work for a particular company….
To prepare your Facebook Page for local optimization within Graph Search, consider the following:
- If you have a location or a local place page, it is vital that you update your address now to make sure you can appear as a result when someone is searching for a specific location
- If you are in a niche sector such as hotels, restaurants, recruitment, travel and tickets, then you should be embracing Facebook Graph Search now
Content, Images, Video & Sharing
The sharing of content (posts, images, video, etc.) is the key to appearing within Facebook Graph Search results. The best way to attract and engage your audience is by regularly posting quality, relevant content.
- Ensure your content is related to your business
- Use high-resolution images when you share
- Encourage people to interact with your content when appropriate: post updates that elicit Likes or Comments, ask users to share or tag photos, etc.
- Build creative, unique content that allows people to connect with your brand
When we talk about the importance of social signals, Likes and Check-ins can be viewed as important ranking signals for Facebook Graph Search. It is important to get creative with engagement- and interaction-focused strategies, such as competitions and quizzes with your fans. Attracting the right and relevant type of fans and groups allows you to send out a far stronger ranking signal.
Facebook shares more insight on fan acquisition and Page publishing best practices here.
Facebook’s proprietary algorithm, EdgeRank, determines how, when and if a post appears in a user’s News Feed. In general, the more a user interacts with a Facebook Page (liking, sharing, posting, commenting, clicking links, etc.), the more that Page’s content will appear within their News Feed over time. This means it’s not enough to simply get fans to “Like” your page. If you fail to engage those fans, your content may not appear in their feed at all!
Marketers need to understand EdgeRank well to create and post content that reaches the maximum number of viewers. They should ensure that interactivity and user engagement are top of mind when crafting a Facebook Page content strategy.
(For more information on EdgeRank, check out this useful infographic from PostRocket.)
Optimizing for Facebook Graph Search is not an exact science as the product (and the social graph itself) is continuing to evolve. What is certain, however, is that Facebook has huge amounts of data at its disposal and the platform has some of the strongest social signals on the Web. Businesses can and should take advantage of how Facebook presents structured data by optimizing for Graph Search today.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.