The trouble with search today is that there’s a tradeoff between reach and relevance. We have to work hard sifting through the results to find what’s really relevant to us. Or, we can poll our social and professional networks, because our friends are reliable, relevant, familiar, and trustworthy, which legitimizes the information we get from them. The promise of Facebook’s new Graph Search combines the relevance of social information filters with the reach of modern search technology.
What does Graph Search mean for small businesses? Plenty. Facebook recently posted that they are “building a completely new vertical to handle searching posts and comments.” This means that every post and every comment is searchable.
Consistent and relevant posts on Facebook Business Pages are now more important than ever. Facebook’s new Graph Search can make your business’s Facebook Page easier to find, and get you more visibility. The bottom line is this; More people need to “like” your page or check in at your venue so the people they’re connected to get exposed to your page. Here are a few tips you can do now to make your page easier to find.
The first three steps are essentially for entry-level Facebook Page admins. If you’re certain that you’re already implementing the most basic best practices, skip ahead to step four.
#1: Choose the Right Name
Avoid abbreviations and use full words. For example, “The Moose Inn, WNC” would be better suited for searchability if it were named, “Moose Inn, Western North Carolina.” (If you have less than 100 fans, you can easily change your name within the “Edit Page, Update Info” feature. If you have 100 fans or more, you will have to send a request to Facebook to change your name)
Remember that the first word you include in your Page title is the one that Google will consider the most important. You can also add the location of your business to the name. Also make sure you have some of your keywords in your Page name.
#2: Add Important Information in Key Sections
You should also include important details about your business in the About, Mission and Company Description sections. Make sure your “About” section includes your web address and a description with keywords that search engines will like. The Mission and Description sections offer more places to use keywords.
If your business depends on local traffic, include your physical address and phone number in the Basic Info section. For restaurants, make sure you mark down as many types of foods you serve as possible in your Edit Info area.
But also notice the Place subcategories. Only Places have subcategories and they affect how Places come up in the Graph Search. Places (versus Companies, Brands, or Blogs) can choose up to 3 Place subcategories, so make sure you are using those choices wisely. Add subcategories on the Basic Information area of your Place Page.
#3: Customize your Facebook URL
Facebook used to require that a Page have 25 likes before it could have a vanity URL, but that is no longer the case. If you haven’t created a personalized URL yet, do it now. By default, Facebook will give you a URL that includes a number. It will look something like this:
But you can—and definitely should—customize this URL to include the name of your business so that it looks like this: facebook.com/yourbizname. Having a custom URL makes it easy for people to search for your Facebook Page directly via a URL and helps with Facebook SEO.
To create your Facebook vanity URL, go to Facebook Username. If another business is already using the name you want, you have to come up with a variation (Facebook will suggest options). And if someone has claimed the name of a business you own, you can file a copyright infringement claim with Facebook.
#4: Encourage Sharing
Your content—posts, photos, video, apps, etc.—must be content that people want to share with their friends. Think of Graph Search as a sort of net. The net will capture likes, shares, check-ins, tags, etc., and so it makes sense that the more interaction a Page has, the more easily it will be discovered. The bottom line is the most popular and shared posts on Facebook tend to be the ones that are interactive, engaging and contain useful information.
#5: Get the Most Out of Timeline and Custom App Content
More of your Facebook Page is visible to search engines (and to Graph Search) than you may realize. Status updates have a limited shelf life because as you make more, they naturally get pushed down the Timeline. On the other hand, apps that are strategically placed as a favorite next to your photos are there every time a user comes back. Add apps that contain valuable content such as menus, newsletters, or unique offerings, that live for more than a few days. Using a Facebook app eliminates the hassle of continually having to post information as a status update.
#6: Encourage Check-ins
If you do have a Place Page, you want to encourage check-ins. If you don’t have a physical location that people come to, then don’t switch your business to a Local Business, especially if you work out of your home (you don’t want some stranger at your door trying to check in).
But one of the benefits of Graph Search is that people can easily search by their friends who have been to your location (and you take advantage of the social proof). The number of check-ins are not always a factor in the ranking of search results, but the more people you have check into your place, the more likely you will come up in searches when people filter by their friends.
#7: Claim Your Place
Did you know that anyone can create a Facebook Place using his or her phone? And anyone can create a Place for your business with a phone. Unless you “claim” that Place as your own, it may just be hanging out there in Facebook space without you getting the benefit of those check-ins.
If you have your Page set up as a Place Page (this happens automatically now when you set your category as Local Business), Facebook attempts to display your Page when someone tries to check into your business. But sometimes it isn’t displayed, and someone may unknowingly create a Place for you by checking in with his or her phone. Or they may use a slightly different spelling or business name when trying to find you, and then Facebook creates a new Place for that check-in. Make sure you claim your Place so you get credit for the check-ins to take advantage of the social proof and to come up higher in the searches.
Do a search on Facebook for your business and filter the results by Place. Also search for your business on your mobile phone when you are at your location to see what comes up. Then claim any Facebook Place that is yours.
#8: Encourage Tagging and Liking of Photos
Photos also come up very prominently in Facebook Graph Search. If people are searching around on photos of their friends, they may see a photo of their friend at your location or tagged by your Page. People can also easily filter to find photos of friends by Pages they like. All of this activity helps your Page and your business to pop up in people’s minds more often.
You cannot tag personal profiles as your Page. You can only tag your personal friends on a picture or you can encourage people to tag themselves if you have a picture from an event.
Encouraging people to like pictures also helps your Page because people can easily browse by the pictures they have liked. This is just one more chance to remind them of your presence when they are looking through the pictures they have liked.
#9 Promote Your Page on Facebook
Facebook has a number of tools to help spread your page virally including ads and offers, which put your page in the newsfeeds of friends of people who “like” your page, giving you better visibility that can lead to more “likes.”
#10 Promote Your Page Off Facebook
Promoting your page off Facebook can bring you more new fans. Your customers might not know that you’re on Facebook. Post flyers around your establishment to let people know. Make it easy for new people to “like” your page by posting QR codes they can scan with a smartphone. Put your Facebook URL in all your print ads, on your printed receipts, and on your business cards. If you want to get found by more check ins, offer small discounts for groups of people who check in together. It’s a popular practice on Foursquare that you can transfer to your Facebook page, too.
Facebook Graph Search is definitely an interesting tool. It will continue to evolve as it goes through beta, but you can start encouraging interactions such as check-ins and tagging to help your Page show up more prominently as people search. It is more important than ever to post regularly and connect with people through the news feed.
Mary Anne Baker is the owner of INNsights Internet Marketing, helping small business get found on the Internet and through social media.