Facebook Likes Just Officially Became More Important to Search
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…
"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.