Facebook’s Graph Search and What It Means for You

Feb 11, 2013   //   by AmandaDi   //   SEO Blog  //  35 Comments

facebookYou never quite know what Facebook has up its sleeve, and once you do find out, you never quite know if they’re onto something or if they were just having another one of those creative better-luck-next-time Facebook moments. However, just last month they announced that a new search system called Graph Search was in Beta testing. If the test does pass and we have a new way of searching for and filtering results based on Facebook data (I can see Google sweating now), it seems as though it could potentially be a great new opportunity for users as well as businesses to get connected.

How Facebook’s Graph Search Works

Facebook put out an introductory page to help those with questions see how the new Graph Search works. In a nutshell, it’s going to to help you type in searches that pull up results related to your friends. For example, I could search something like “photos of my friends in New York” and Facebook will pull up all of those results. As an individual going to New York, I might be interested in seeing some of the sights that my friends found interesting (especially great for those friends we can’t really ask—we all know that a “Facebook friend” is a bit different than someone you saw last Friday night).

Because Graph Search is still in the Beta testing stage, it is only available to select people in the U.S. You can, however, sign up to join the waiting list on the introductory page if you’re interested in possibly being one of the first. I’m still waiting for my request to be accepted, but CNETTV was able to make a great video:

One thing this video doesn’t touch on is the fact that Facebook doesn’t have all of their data and research gathered quite yet (hence still being in the beta stage). This means that if you do get to try it early, typing in certain searches might not give you a full list of results at the current moment.

Top Reasons Why Graph Search Just Might Be Brilliant

A few reasons that Graph Search is getting so much great publicity include:

  • It gives “likes” real meaning. In the past people haven’t been able to find quite as much of a reason for “likes” on a Facebook page because it can so easily be ignored. Now, businesses have a real reason to grab these likes—showing up in the new Facebook search engine.
  • Great for local search. Facebook has so much local data available at their fingertips, and it seems like the new Graph Search will really take advantage. This offers so many potential business opportunities: zip code ad targeting, local page publishing, etc.
  • Strength of connections becomes more important. For example, when people begin searching for restaurants in a particular area, it’s those restaurants that are “liked” by that person’s friends that matter. This means that a company “liking” your page might not be as beneficial as someone with hundreds of friends. After all, friends are going to look at their good friends’ results first.
  • Competitor insights. Businesses can conduct their own searches to learn more about their competition in relation to their fans.

Some experts have expressed concern that Facebook has not yet made it clear to advertisers the benefit and how to get there, but most are hoping that this will come in all due time.

How Your Company Can Take Advantage of Facebook’s Graph Search

Although you might not be able to use Graph Search just yet, you can still prepare for its arrival by checking in to different places and becoming more active clicking that “like” button. People will likely be typing in things like “SEO companies my friends like,” so you want to be on that list now more than ever, so ramp up your efforts.

It’s also a good idea to listen to a few of the points discussed above—take a look at your competition, take a look at the depth of your relationships, and think about local search and how you can advertise in that market.

What are your thoughts on the Facebook Graph Search? Do you think it sounds like a success, or do you not see much point in changing the way their existing search function works? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: money.cnn.com

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Amanda DiSilvestro is a graduate of Illinois State University. Although she graduated with an English Education degree, she found herself working as a full-time blogger in the SEO/social media department at HigherVisibility SEO, a leading franchise SEO company.

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  • Sean Quinn says:

    Although it looks great. I’m not so sure the longevity is there. Are Facebook just trying their luck on this? I’m not so sure they have what it takes to even come close to Google in this niche. Google are still king and will be around long after Facebook is gone. just my 2 pence worth.

    • Nadine says:

      Well the difference between Google’s search engine and Facebook’ Graph search is that the latter will be social media-based. It’s interesting to see where this will go and how effective it will be. For all we know it might be a complete failurel

  • I do think you’re right that Facebook will probably never be Google, but their search is a bit different because it only gives you results based on the information found in Facebook only. The things you search will be completely based on the information Facebook has available, and in most cases this information is going to be based on your friends’ activities.

    However on that same token, it does seem like Google is trying to do something similar with Google+, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it all unfolds and what really lasts! Thanks for reading!

  • Naser says:

    I am eager to try Graph Search in Facebook. Hope they approve my account for its usage…..

  • Marquis Hunt says:

    I’m skeptical about the launch since they’ve been hyping it through the tech/social media blog channels but they haven’t really pushed it out to the normal user yet.

    The goal is to have this search adopted by the normal user, but I don’t see where the benefits would come from without some knowledge on how it works.

    Its different with conventional search engines and Google; its utilization was based on many years of people finding stuff by pretty much typing in anything they wanted, and Google optimizing the SERPS and the tools (AJAX suggestions) to fit the queries.

    With Facebook, they have a lot of information that is friend-based, but it also is essentially trying to re-develop how someone searches for information that is different from search engines.

    “Friends who live near me?” – Is a good thing I would like to search for, but the question itself would involve a little bit of intelligence/experience of the user to want to put that in the search bar. Even when it comes out, are the semantics going to be figured out? I can type the “Friends who live near me”, but would I also be able to type in “friends that live in 01002” or “friends that went to my high school in 2006”?

    Have a feeling it’s almost equivalent to how Google Wave was put out. It had so much potential as a communications module, but if you didn’t have the mindset or patience to understand it the tool was worthless. And if you did, you’d still either in awe or exhausted due to the limitlessness of the platform.

    The above queries shouldn’t be the foundation of the utility of the search. Those queries can be mitigated with better filtering through friend pages, which would be better in terms of navigation and categorizing information.

    What the queries can accomplish on a simpler level would just be “restaurants 5 miles from me” or “recent clothing stores liked by friends”. Something that they could showcase as legitimate, simple, and something that isn’t more easily accessible via Google search. The “friends etc. etc.” has a sense of stalker-ism, and isn’t a query that would give the search a better understanding, or at least a popular adoption.

    The results from questions matter the most, and localizing some information on pages would be a better start than vague queries of friends. Beneficial, but can see it confusing the hell out of many of the users.

  • AmandaDi

    I think you have pointed out some good things here. The feature is certainly not figured out yet, and I think it will be some time before Facebook can iron out all of the kinks. I’m not sure if it would confuse users, however, because you can really search for whatever you want! I suppose only time will tell. Thanks so much for reading!

  • markincense says:

    Well I do not know about it just come to know and have just applied for it hope I will have an approval then I will do as you want.

  • aziz

    ery informative, I wish this list was updated, Still informative

  • Troy says:

    I could be wrong, but it seems most results from this search feature will be localized, in the same area as the majority of your facebook friends. I wonder how things would be affected if you are in a different location than most of your friends.

  • AmandaDi

    I have a feeling that you’re right, the results will be somewhat localized. However, there isn’t nearly as much data to deal with on Facebook as there is Google, so it might be possible to show results for all of your friends, with those closest to you first (after all, not every single one of your Facebook friends will “like” restaurants near your area). I suppose we’ll have to see! Good point though.

  • Facebook is obviously trying to get a piece of the search pie, just as Google is trying to get part of social. I think the biggest difference is as consumers we are accustomed to using the search engines for research.

    This may very well change in the future, and I think it is something worth testing for Facebook. However, I’d be surprised it they are the ones to master it.

    • Alyssa says:

      This seems to me like more of a “social” search engine – perhaps not in direct competition with google. I imagine that in the future the online giants will want to master both types.

  • akansha says:

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  • AmandaDi

    Annalisa: I do think Facebook is definitely starting to get a piece of the search pie, and comparing it to Google like you did is very interesting to me (in fact I may write an article about it!). The types of searches that we will see on Facebook are going to probably be more focused on what your friends think. However, Google+ is trying to incorporate this type of search as well as they begin to bring “friend” factors into the search equation.

    Long story short, I think you might be right. They are trying to do the same thing, they’re just starting from opposite ends of the spectrum. It seems like Google will win, doesn’t it? Guess we will have to see!

  • Oh yeah… Google is the king but if we ignore the power present on Facebook, at least looking at the marketing perspective, our businesses tend to fail!
    Anyway, I wasn’t aware of this Graph Search in Facebook and I think is really cool!
    Thanks Amanda for the insights!!

  • The graph search is the next step for facebook… i think, that they wil get more power in future. social search is an interesting thing.

  • Jessica says:

    Facebook was really helpful because its getting more progressive and mostly used by the society and even for the business. it was a good social site.

  • Josh G. says:

    what an amazing article! REALLY! Now i really know how that “facebook” thingy works, thanks, please make more of these, they are really helpfull!

  • AmandaDi

    Thanks for reading everyone. I definitely feel like Graph Search is the next step for Facebook, and although there is quite a bit of speculation, I feel pretty hopeful. I think I would love to use this feature!

  • Victoria says:

    As this feature is released Facebook will tweak it to maximize profits – this will most likely benefit the businesses which use Facebook. The post has a great set of tips, but I’m sure as more features are added this list will grow.


    Thank you this graph is very useful for facebooks member

  • […] When it comes to the Facebook Graph search (which you can learn all about in my SEM-Group article here), you can’t really search for general […]

  • […] When it comes to a Facebook Graph hunt (which we can learn all about in my SEM-Group essay here), we can’t unequivocally hunt for ubiquitous […]

  • Great articles!
    Hope can add knowledge for every one.
    Thanks 🙂

  • Graph Search looks really promising

  • Carl

    For sure it is still early to make an assumption. If graph search works as well as Facebook Ads, thanks but no thanks. Realistically social network are not the best place to sell, but just to announce latest, so probably only bloggers and just few business niche really benefits from that. I think everybody should wait at least few months to see what graph search really mean for businesses.

  • great post

    in my opinion facebook makes lives harder with thier updates

  • […] When it comes to the Facebook Graph search (which you can learn all about in my SEM-Group article here), you can’t really search for general […]

  • Ansh

    I really don’t like Facebook graph search.. its really annoying.

  • Diego Martin says:

    Very informative article. Graph Search looks promising but IMO Google is king…In fact, I agree with Alyssa I think graph search is not direct competition with big G.
    Anyway, thks for your article Amanda! 🙂

  • Dan says:

    The new Facebook Graph search can provide companies with some very powerfull tools regardni targeted advertising, market research etc. It will be much easier to study the market, your competition and targetet audience, as soon as the service is made avaialble for worldwide use.

  • Looking forward to the future of Facebook advertising with this!

  • Ryan

    Graphs give “like” real meaning! that’s kind of funny, and largely true! 🙂