I have a love hate relationship with Facebook. On a personal front, I love being connected to my friends and hate the idea of businesses marketing to me. On my professional side, I am a “search” person at heart, because I like being in control of what advertising is presented to me when I’m searching specifically for a product or service. Being found at the moment a customer is searching for you, in my opinion, is an ethical way of doing business. You are not bombarding people with messages that are irrelevant to their needs.
Since the inception of Facebook, there have been shifty marketers who create applications and trick people into providing information. I absolutely despise that type of behaviour and it has rubbed off on my perception of what Facebook is about, even though there have been many changes made by the company in regards to privacy policies and user data access.
However, I cannot ignore the ever growing popularity of Facebook, and now the numbers stare at me in the face, that its community is using the internal search engine to search for products and services.
In February 2010, ComScore announced there was a 10% increase in the number of searches from the previous month conducted on Facebook.com. This was a jump from 395 million searches to 436 million searches.
Jumping forward to April 2010, Facebook experienced 624 million searches, although there was a slight decline of 2% in May 2010 to 609 million searches. It will be interesting to watch the search growth in the coming months.
Even though there has been substantial growth in the use of Facebook’s internal search engine, we need to analyze this further. Do people use the search engine in the same way that people use Google or Bing? What are people searching for? A keyword research tool for Facebook would be highly beneficial, but I imagine this will only be made available if it is of benefit to Facebook itself, in the same way that Google has their Keyword Suggestion Tool for the purpose of encouraging marketers to advertise with them.
AimClear Consulting Services underwent a Facebook SEO Ranking Factors study. Following is a summary of some of those results posted by Marty Weintraub on June 24th, 2010:
- The Facebook Suggest Box targets users that have the search query within their name
- Facebook heavily focuses on personalization, by presenting results of pages you have visited previously
- Facebook will also prioritize results of relevant events that the search user or their friends are attending
- Facebook returns pages that the user or their friends like, when they have clicked on the “Like” button
- Fan Pages and Applications are returned within the results based upon the highest friend count
- Mentions of the business name, product or service by friends of the search user increases rankings within results
It is still early days for Facebook’s internal site search function and what impact this will have on the search industry. Over the coming year we will keep an eye on developments to watch how social search unfolds, particularly with Facebook.