It’s a widely publicized fact that Facebook is a dominating power in the world of social media. The “Golden Globe winning” social networking site certainly has found its way onto the worldwide stage. As brands and marketers we’re at the mercy of Facebook when attempting to use the portal as a means to attract and engage fans. One way of gaining traction on the site, however, is through search.
Sure you might be thinking, “Why would you even care about Facebook search?” Surprisingly, Facebook’s search share has increased, so take notice. Users ARE indeed using search throughout the site to the tune of 2.7% of all US searches – comScore reports. This number seems pretty darn insignificant when making this disclosure to SEM and SEOers but in the broad scheme of things Google, with 64% of search share, can’t facilitate what Facebook can: brand engagement.
Facebook search consists of mostly information not spidered by search engines (except of course for fan pages and a few other items inside Facebook). If you’re spending a large chunk of change on Facebook for brand engagement then it would behoove you to start thinking about how best to optimize for organic visibility too.
Over the summer the folks at the aimClear blog put together a study about Facebook internal search and in November updated their information with a second post after all the Facebook changes to search happened. What they discovered was quite interesting….
One of the most important areas to rank is: the AutoComplete box generated after you start a search query. The AutoComplete box ranks according to:
- That user’s name
- Events that user has been invited to
- Questions with the search term in it
- A friend of the user with the search term in the name
- A friend of a friend of the user with the search term in the name
- Groups that the user has joined
- Apps used by that user
- Pages that user has liked
- Pages related to that users interests
- Pages that users friends have liked
This is pretty similar to Google’s old “Suggest” functionality. In the case of Facebook the personalization factors supersede the search volume of the terms it seems, which differs from Google’s old “Suggest” feature.
Many of the factors taken into consideration for the “AutoComplete” box are similar in Facebook’s organic search results. Personalized factors are extremely important in “All Results”, but also important are total “Likes” of a business page, status updates with search term, and web results. In “People” searches aimClear discovered that there seems to be more of an emphasis on a keyword match in both network and location. In “Pages” searches it seems Facebook has a bit of progress to make. Clunking up organic search results are the usual Fan pages, but in addition are Place pages, Community pages, and some web pages (not on the Facebook domain). aimClear’s study found that, consistent with other areas of Facebook search, the results are very much affected by personalization factors. Some of the observations from the study include:
- Keyword density on the page seems to be a factor
- Search term in both page name and description are a factor
- Total number of “Likes” helps rankings as well
Their study also examines “Groups” search, “Events” search, “Apps” search, and “Web” search as well. Consistent throughout is the emphasis on personalization. Many of us already know that the more fans you have “Like” your page is important, but in search it’s even more so important. That one fan can effectively enhance your overall exposure in Facebook search in an exponential fashion.
So what can you do to rank better in Facebook search?
- Be conscious of your keywords and the placement of them whether they’re brand names, product names, etc… Add them to the key spots such as in the name field and description fields. Be aware of Facebook’s guidelines, however.
- Do what you can to get more Fans. Run a contest (with Facebook’s approval of course), add social icons to your website, ask friends/family to help you promote, add to newsletters, use Facebook Advertising, ask existing fans to recruit more of their friends, etc…
- Create content people really want to share, and ask them to share it. Something that is interesting enough to go through the Facebook channels and be passed from user to user is bound to help increase your fans and show up in organic Facebook searches as well.
The study done by aimClear is certainly a great post for social media marketers as well as SEM/SEOers looking to rank in Facebook search.
Have you done your own testing with Facebook search? What have you found?