Facebook unveils ‘Graph Search’
For quite some time now, social networking giant Facebook has been threatening to enter the world of search dominated thus far by the mighty Google. Now it has finally taken its first tentative steps into the field, but they’re far smaller baby steps than most people were expecting.
In mid-January Facebook unveiled its ‘graph search’. The new feature essentially makes it possible for users to search content and data shared by their friends and others. Currently in beta testing, graph search is not, as many expected, a web search tool to rival Google. Mark Zuckerberg himself has even stressed that: “We’re not indexing the web… we’re indexing our map of the graph – the graph is really big and it’s constantly changing”.
The ‘graph’ Zuckerberg refers to is the vast database of information and content that has been shared on the site by its users. As well as searching for specific content graph search makes it possible to search for people with specific interests and characteristics, for example ‘People in Putney who like prog music’ or ‘friends who can play the guitar’.
What does graph search mean for online marketing?
So if it’s not a Google-killer, is it something that webmasters and SEO professionals should concern themselves with? Perhaps somewhat predictably, the answer is yes and no.
In terms of people using it as a primary tool to find content and services, graph search is unlikely to be troubling the Googles and Bings of the world anytime soon. But it is something that people may use to discover content on a less intensive basis, or as Zuckerberg says, “in the event you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s really nice to have [graph search].”
From a branding and exposure perspective the new feature may encourage firms to redouble their social marketing efforts to ramp up those likes and shares. For geographic-specific businesses in particular being discovered via a search of say, ‘what restaurants do my friends like?’, has obvious benefits.
It’s also important to remember that graph search will inevitably change and evolve beyond these early stages, and may grow to have a larger effect on SEO and online marketing in time. At this point it’s hard to predict the impact of the new feature, particularly as many Facebook users remain unaware of it, but it’s certainly worth putting in the ‘one to watch’ section of your grey matter.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jon Celeste .