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Facebook Likes Just Officially Became More Important to Search

Likes - Facebook's Version of PageRank?

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Facebook announced a few Platform updates, including updates to the Live Stream Plugin, "liked" articles appearing in search results, and improvements to real-time updates.

The second one is in line with a feature the company was testing that we mentioned recently. "Consistent with how we treat other Open Graph object types, we’ve introduced the ability to see articles shared by your friends in the search typeahead," says Facebook’s Namita Gupta.  "For instance, if your friend clicks ‘Like’ on an article at a news site, the article will appear in your News Feed and can now also surface in the search typeahead."

Is Facebook becoming more of a factor in search? Share your thoughts.

The results, as AllFacebook described upon finding the feature being tested, showed content based on the number of likes and the number of friends who liked the particular object. "The search results have now become dramatically more relevant with the inclusion of recent news articles, something that previously wasn’t accessible via Facebook’s open graph search results," AllFacebook’s Nick O’Neill had said. "Currently, the search results only appear within the drop down from Facebook’s search box, however I’d assume that this will eventually shift to Facebook’s search area, which has yet to undergo a significant overhaul."

Either way, there is clearly a direct connection between likes and search now. It’s essentially Facebook’s version of PageRank. 

Search Marketing Implications

The most important thing to keep in mind here is something that has always been true about doing well in search: create good content. If you create compelling content, people will like it and if they use Facebook, they will "like" it. Considering Facebook has over half a billion users, that has pretty big implications. 

Facebook has one major thing going for it that search engines don’t – the ability to make content go viral. The more people "like" a piece of content, the more people will share it with others, and the more potential "likes" it can get. The more "likes" it gets, the more it will be exposed through Facebook search. 

I can tell you that "likes" are a lot easier to get than links. If for no other reason, it is just much easier to hit a button to "like" a piece of content than it is to reference it in a blog post – and the majority of people probably aren’t bloggers. This has huge potential as long as people continue to use Facebook, and those people actually use the Facebook search box. 

The biggest obstacle here as far as Facebook-based search marketing, is that people generally don’t think of Facebook as a place to search for content. However, the more relevant content they see in those times they do use the search box, the more likely they are to use that search box more in the future. Facebook has already been growing in terms of search market share. This is going to be a very important thing to keep an eye on.

If you haven’t spent much time on a Facebook strategy, now’s probably a good time to start thinking a little harder about it. Don’t have a blog? You may want to reconsider. 

Things get even more interesting when you consider Facebook Places as part of the equation, as well as examples of "liking" physical objects (products). Facebook has big plans for Facebook Credits, which could conceivably become a PayPal-like option used for online purchases all over the web. How attractive do you think it will be for consumers to simply have to log-in via Facebook to make a purchase rather than complete some long form with their credit card info every time they want to make a purchase? How critical will a Facebook strategy be at that point? 

Remember, Facebook also just released that Page discovery tool, which should prove great for Page "likes". 

As far as the other updates…

 

Facebook's Open Graph

"We recently began supporting real-time updates for page updates and the following object property types: relationship status, significant other, timezone and locale," adds Gupta. "To support developers building with users’ location data, we’ve also introduced the ability to subscribe to check-ins. Like all objects available via subscriptions, developers can only retrieve updates to check-in data after a user has the granted permission."

Facebook is rolling out the Live Stream plugin for all new and existing apps, as a way "to be more consistent with users’ expectations and other social plugins." All posts can now be seen in real-time by other people viewing the Live Stream. Facebook is also adding the option for users not to share their comments on Facebook. In addition, it now supports multiple Live Streams on one site by specifying a URL, which will link status updates to their respective pages.

Do you have a strategy for getting more "likes"? Discuss

Facebook Likes Just Officially Became More Important to Search
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  • http://www.jeromepineau.com Jerome Pineau

    Yes all nice but where are we getting Places in Switzerland and the rest of Europe (- UK of course)?
    :)

    • Chris Crum

      I thought it facebook_places_arrives_in_the_uk.html”>launched in the UK not too long ago.

  • http://zingervotes.blogspot.com Guest

    I dont’ see how likes will be much valueable in search.. That brings it to popularity contest of your friends etc. Maybe that is already the case. Likes are too easy to do for it to weigh much with me as a personal reader.

    I think when I see twitter in search it gives me a moments pause and I have checked out twitter posts from search before.

  • http://marketuk.co.uk Mark Strickland

    A well written article Chris, it has made me realise that whatever individuals think of facebook, it is becoming the most important platform on the internet. It will most likely soon be the portal that we all use to access the internet, and if Facebook has a reliable way for users to highlight the best content of the web, we will all share a better web experience. ;)

    The downside is that those who can afford to advertise, or use software to boost their ‘Likes’ on their website, a lot of valuable content written by people who cannot afford to do these things will remain hidden from most users.

    • Chris Crum

      I’m sure this will be an issue content producers will have to face more and more.

  • Kevin D

    I’ve never even considered using Facebook as a search for anything non Facebook related, and still haven’t. And to be honest, I don’t care if my facebook friends “like” XYZ Boatbuilders. If I’m looking to have a boat built, I’m still going to Google it not Facebook it. And if I’m looking for restaurants in a city I don’t know, I’m still going to check foodspotting or opentable or Yelp or Google Places or…. any number of places other than Facebook.

    Facebook search is great if you are looking for your pal Billy from second grade.

    • Guest

      I’m the complete opposite to you Kevin D, if I was going to have a boat built, I would definitely be asking my friends who had also had a boat built who they used (if I liked their boat). Surely this is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth?

  • Guest

    There is no value in “Likes” whatsoever. It’s completely meaningless since we’re bombarded everyday with idiots suggesting we “like” this or that. Most of the time, we approve those requests simply to be polite to the requester or because we don’t take the time to actually see what we like and don’t.

    Contrary to popular belief on this site, Facebook is not taking over the world. Not even the Internet. Most of my friends have stopped updating their Facebook page and only log in once a month or two in order to clean spam from their Facebook inbox. Once or twice a year, they receive a genuine email from someone they’d like to hear from. But that’s it.

    Facebook was a fun diversion for a couple of years, but it’s over-run by narcisists who post pictures of themselves reading a book in bed because they think their “friends” give a rat’s behind. I can’t think of a platform that’s LESS useful for anything productive than Facebook.

    The pundits who claim that Facebook is SO vital to their business remind me of the marketing executives who used to claim that NASCAR sponsorship was so vital to them. They could never back it up in real-world numbers, and most data now shows that sponsoring a NASCAR team has no measureable impact on sales. I suspect we’ll be reading the same about Facebook in a year or two.

    • Guest

      I’m wondering why you approve requests from people you class as idiots? Why the urge to be polite to them?

  • http://www.21st-apothecary.com Guest

    I don’t think it is wise for any search engine to use Facebook Likes as a measure of whether or not a page is a good source of information or products.

    Most people still are not on Facebook. This includes many businesses, as well as individual potential customers. I know for myself, I have Liked a page simply because a ‘friend’ asked me to. The more friends you gather, the more people you can get to Like your pages. That is hardly an impartial means of judging something’s value. When it comes down to it, it’s a popularity contest. Nothing more.

    • Chris Crum

      Well, Facebook is all about friends and being social. I don’t think it’s trying to be another Google. They’re still relying on Bing for web search results, which is another thing to consider as well.

  • http://www.TonyasDynamicDesigns.com Tonya–I am a Facebook FAN PAGE Designer & Facebook Marketer

    ***MY THANKS GOES OUT TO FACEBOOK FOR THIS NEW & EXCITING MOVE***

    As a Facebook FAN PAGE Designer and Facebook Marketer for my clients, I know first hand how powerful Facebook is as a Social Media Tool to help one to get more exposure to their business! I am very happy to see that Facebook is providing more avenues for businesses to capitalize on Facebook’s popularity and Social Media frenzy by allowing LIKES to be more important in search! =)

    Sincerely yours,
    Tonya

  • http://myfbfans.com Guest

    ok by the way pages and groups have always been Facebook

  • http://www.SocialMediaAndTheBigW.com Jason Small

    I see a large spread in the spectrum of comments. Many feel that “likes” are equivalent to junk in regards to gauging search results. Others feel it is a huge shift in the web and will likely lead to a new type of search.

    I think it will be a blend (for the time being at least) over the next 2-3 years as users decide whether their ‘social networks’ opinions and connections outweigh a search engines ‘algorithms’ and relevance.

    At the present, I think the ideal blend is 60-70% influence based on search engine algorithms, and 30-40% influence on search results based on your network and who ‘likes’ what. I am much more likely to buy from a company that I see a friend connected to, when searching for a product, than a company that I have no affiliation or experience with. It makes sense if you think about it – why wouldn’t I want to know that my friend has had some type of association (good or bad!) and be able to see that in my search results. I could then contact my friend for trustworthy, credible details on that product or company. That’s ideal.

    I have blogged about the topic many times:

    Social Media and Search: http://socialmediaandthebigw.com/?p=633

    Facebook and SEO, Google Beware: http://socialmediaandthebigw.com/?p=614

    Google Social Search: http://socialmediaandthebigw.com/?p=300

    My name is Jason, I am with a digital agency called Revolution Digital (RevolutionDigital.com) – would love to continue the conversation!

    Thanks,

    Jason

    • Chris Crum

      I don’t think it should be looked at as an either/or situation. I don’t see it as a replacement for searc algorithms, but I do see Facebook as a place where more and more people are spending more of their time, and as an entity that its becoming much more integrated with more activities on the web, and that shouldn’t be ignored.

  • http://armanihair.com/blog/ stpetehairsalon

    I hope facebook doesnt turn into another Twitter. Buisness owners have taken twitter over for advertising.

    • Chris Crum

      Doesn’t it depend on who you follow?

  • http://www.eporiaecommerce.com ecommerce design

    Nice to see search taking this into consideration since humans usually know best. :)

  • Guest

    “How attractive do you think it will be for consumers to simply have to log-in via Facebook to make a purchase rather than complete some long form with their credit card info every time they want to make a purchase? How critical will a Facebook strategy be at that point?”

    Not very attractive at all, considering 1) that’s exactly what Paypal is and they already own that market, and 2) with all the failings of Facebook in privacy and security, who in their right mind would want Facebook to have that info?

    This is just stupid.

    • Chris Crum

      We’ll see.

  • Guest

    Business and commerce aside, I think this is a terrible thing for the exchange of ideas. The Internet already fosters an “echo-chamber” environment, where people are able to sit around and agree with like-minded individuals all day about social and political issues and never have to come in contact with conflicting ideas. Having the information you get based on how many of your friends “Like” it will only exacerbate this.

  • http://www.littlesurvivalshop.com Jim

    These social networking sites have limited value as far as bringing in customers from what I see. Advertising on these social networks brings about the same result as does direct mail advertising although it is cheaper. Facebook and Twitter might put your name out there but it becomes buried in a mass of other business names. My company is on both FB and Twitter but my best customers are still the word of mouth customers. Those who have found my prices, customer service and concern for their happiness are important to me. That may be old fashioned and unhip, but happy customers who tell their friends will never be trumped by artificially requested “Likes”.

  • http://1dollar-corner.com Rammesh Perumal

    They keep progressing, in few years Facebook will be the top search engine. Everything will be in single roof and they already moving to build solid foundation.

  • http://www.pressurewashinghouston.net John Aljaz

    Maybe I need to jump on the social media bandwagon for my business, and get a Pressure Washing Facebook Site

  • http://gigabitwarez.com MegaUpload

    It looks like Facebook just released an enhanced, more personalized live-tweeting experience. Twitter, your move.

  • http://www.cimex.com Digital Agency Cimex

    Lots to think about Facebook search, it

  • http://www.ambergreeninternetmarketing.com/ Ambergreen

    We think this is definitely going to be a future consideration for SEO algorithms, and it will have a positive impact on search marketing strategies. As the article suggests it will encourage people to write better quality content which is a win/win for everyone.

    However the ‘like’ value of an article may be devalued given the ease with which people can ‘like’ something – only people that genuinely liked something in the past would have gone to the trouble of inserting a link into the post – many Facebook friends just ‘like’ something without even reading it!

  • http://www.fblikesupply.com fblike

    This is Really Good Post!!

    I like this post. This is good for those who want to know about facebook. Facebook is also good for promote your business.

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