The SEO community has been prophesizing the future power of social in search for the past year, but it has been difficult to visualize up until now. Facebook’s Graph Search has set the pace for other search engines to follow suit with results customized to personal likes, photos and comments plus a wide variety of subcategories to allow the searcher to pick precisely what she/he wants to see. Bing has already been showing results tied to Facebook likes for some time and Google doing the same with Google Pluses, but now we will have to see if Bing incorporates Graph results into their SERPs. Could Google be far behind?
Wake Up Call
For everyone out there that doesn’t like Facebook because of the personal and sometimes ridiculous nature of things they read there, regardless of your opinion, your business needs to have a presence. Graph Search features sites with the most likes at the top of categories and if your business is local, you will appear in search for your fans and friends of those fans. If your page happens to contain your niche keywords, your page will be presented to people who click on the option for pages starting with those keywords.
Important Fan Page Elements in Graph Search
There are probably additional factors to be uncovered, but these are the most obvious as they play a role in how the fan page is displayed:
Number of likes – highest number places business at top of results
Reviews (possibly Yelp) – ratings stars displayed beneath the listing in search
Keywords in Page Name – subcategory option for pages with keyword name – exact match displayed at the top even if another page with the keywords has more likes.
An interesting note is that each fan page result displays other pages liked by people who like those pages, with the most popular result listed first. Another interesting tidbit is the diversity of business types shown in results.
If Facebook is doing, you can bet Google will, too. If your fan page has been inactive, if you don’t do anything on Google Plus, if your website is a graveyard, then you’d better get a plan in action because social activity is bound to be a real player in your website’s rankings. What better indicator is there of visitor behavior and preferences? Even though Google Plus does not have the member base that Facebook does, they are very cleverly finding ways to drive people to their social network by making publishers claim authorship, by displaying personal results in the SERPS and by integrating Google Plus into all of their other products.
How to Be More Sociable
I’ve written many tips about making your fan page more interactive, but I think few people realize how they can make their websites more likeable and shareable. Unless there’s something really unique about a product page on your website, people probably aren’t going to share it in their social networks. You must start thinking beyond the product description to how people will use the product. Will it be in a recipe, to decorate their homes, to fix something or to improve something? Then show or tell them how. That’s shareable.
If your how to is a regurgitation of 20 others online, why should people share yours? Can you do something differently? Can you show other options the others don’t? Websites that come out of a kit aren’t special and aren’t prone to make it in social arenas. It’s time to think more about pleasing the people who come to your site and making the search engines secondary; the search engines will now be listening to those people.