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Facebook’s Graph Search Then & Now: What’s Changed
Facebook has started rolling out Graph Search to all US English users, a move that comes about seven months after the product first launched to a small number of users in mid-January.
Graph Search has gone through some changes since then, perhaps none more obvious than when Facebook changed the search box white to make it more obvious than the original blue that blended in with the site’s interface. Before that change, you might’ve had Graph Search access and not even known it because the search box was practically invisible.
There are other changes, both under the hood and in the visible aspect of Graph Search. Here’s a look at some of what’s changed between then and now.
More Suggested Searches
After the search box changing to white, the most noticeable thing that’s changed is the list of recommended searches. These show up as soon as you click into the Graph Search box. Here’s a then-and-now comparison:
Two suggested searches have been added — “People I may know” and “Movies my friends like” — while the others have been reordered a bit. In particular, “Music my friends like” has been moved up a couple spots, while “Restaurants nearby” has been moved further down. Facebook says it’s still testing the number and order of these suggested searches, so what you see at right above is subject to change.
It’s a safe bet that “People I may know” is at the top of the list now because Facebook has already said that finding friends was the most popular type of search users have been doing.
Beyond those suggested searches, Facebook’s announcement today also talks about improvements in understanding search queries.
What’s happening is that Facebook has added more synonyms and other ways of recognizing search terms than were available in January. An example that the company provides is the search term restaurants nearby San Francisco. Graph Search recognizes that phrase now, but it didn’t before. In January, Graph Search recognized restaurants near San Francisco and restaurants nearby.
Improved Search Results
Facebook’s post today also touts improved search results — i.e., showing the most relevant result first more now than it did in January.
In photo searches, for example, Facebook says it learned that recency should factor into how it chooses results. So, when a user does the photos I like search, the results will include some photos that s/he liked recently.
Other Graph Search Changes
There are other changes that Facebook didn’t list in its announcement — things that I’m noticing as I use Graph Search and compare it to screenshots from past articles. For example, on Small Business Search Marketing, I did a post in January showing several local Graph Search results pages. As I do those same searches now, here’s what I see new.
Search: restaurants nearby
Here are the “then” and “now” images: (you can click for larger versions)
The results are different, although this might be due to IP targeting and my ISP, not necessarily because of a change in ranking and relevancy. (The “then” results are more accurate because those restaurants are closer to me than the ones showing up in the bottom image.)
The other noticeable difference: “more than 100 places” then, and “more than 1,000 places” now. There are nowhere near 1,000 restaurants near me, so that could just be a change in wording.
Single Restaurant Listing
There are also some changes in how Facebook is showing restaurant listings (and other types of listings, too). Have a look:
Aside from the “then” bug that didn’t show any of my friends’ names, this listing is showing details from the restaurant’s “About” page as the third bullet item down. Not all current restaurant listings are showing the “About” text, but several are; in January, none that I noticed were showing that. I’m also seeing the “About” text on hotel listings and other types of results that didn’t show it before.
Also new is the addition of the phone number next to the business hours, and — for this listing, at least — the dropping of the “likes” count. Other current listings still show how many “likes” the business has.
Lastly, right under the business name, Facebook has dropped “Italian Restaurant” from the second line and moved the star rating from the far right to the far left.
That’s a quick look at some of the changes I’ve noticed in Graph Search between January and today. Let us know in the comments if you’re seeing anything else you didn’t see before.