We all know by now that Google is the king of search. But Mark Zuckerberg recently insinuated that Facebook could actually replace web search eventually. Facebook has recently expanded its search capabilities by giving users access to all public posts. Before this change, Facebook search results pulled strictly from friends’ posts or liked pages. Now, when we search for a trending topic, we get an endless array of relevant posts.
So, in light of this news, Will we begin to see Zuckerberg’s social media empire creeping into Google territory in 2016? And if so, what will it mean for local SEO? Before we decide on an answer, let’s first explore the potential benefits and downfalls of using Facebook as a local search platform.
Benefits of Using Facebook for Local Search
Facebook has a massive user-base: There is no denying the sheer volume of Facebook users. It’s obviously easier to reach people when there are more than ONE BILLION of them to be reached.
Facebook KNOWS you: By now, you’ve probably realized that the advertisements appearing on the sides of your Facebook page aren’t chosen randomly. Facebook uses your viewed content, interests, and likes to determine which products and services you’ll be most inclined to purchase.
Your Facebook newsfeed offers an endless canvas: The Facebook newsfeed contains a large amount of information, but users are able to continuously scroll through, instead of having to click on a second or third page.
Facebook users get recommendations from people they know: The Facebook results page highlights local businesses that have been visited by your friends, likely giving weight to those with the most likes, reviews, and overall interactions.
Downfalls of Using Facebook for Local Search
Facebook doesn’t seem to utilize location information: More than half of mobile searches have local intent. Facebook uses location information frequently for posts and check-ins, yet Facebook Search isn’t displaying local information that would be useful in search results based on distance from you.
For example, when I search for “Pizza Places” using Facebook from my phone, I get a pretty lengthy list of local pizza restaurants, but they’re not categorized by distance away from my current location.
As of now, the user must click on each separate listing to find the closest restaurant. Chances are, they will just use Google instead, which provides an approximate distance.
For now, the Facebook search component does not search the web. Facebook’s ability to help small businesses depends on the social media presence of each business. For this reason, Google’s search results encompass a wider range of businesses. Facebook is limited in that it only generates results based on existing users and their interactions through the social media platform itself.
So… what does all this mean for small and medium businesses in terms of local SEO?
Regardless of the benefits I’ve mentioned, Facebook’s search capabilities aren’t expansive enough to replace search engines like Google quite yet. The company still has a significant amount of work to do in order to make Facebook a viable contender in the local search playing field.
However, regardless of Facebook’s ability or inability to dominate local search this year, businesses should still be optimizing for any search platforms to reach all potential customers. Understanding the scope and limitations of Facebook in regard to local search can actually help business owners maximize their social media presence. As more and more users depend on Facebook to find goods and services, there is growing potential for you to lead customers to your doorstep.
A good place to start is by establishing a solid Facebook presence. Since we know that Facebook doesn’t generate search results from the web, it’s important to maintain an informative, updated profile that online users can browse when they stumble across your business online. Be sure to respond to any comments or reviews you receive. The more positive a reputation you can achieve via Facebook, the better your chances are of winning potential customers through local search.
Need Help Strengthening Your Social Media Presence?
Most business owners don’t have the time to track and optimize their social media efforts alone. That’s where we come in. The digital marketing experts at Blue Corona can help you strengthen your Facebook profile, along with other social media platforms that can help you gain exposure in your local market.
So what are you waiting for? Contact us today so we can start maximize your online presence right away!
About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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