5 Ways Facebook is Becoming a Threat to Google in Local Search
What if we told you that Google might not be as important a resource for local search as you think it is?
You’d probably think were crazy. Nobody can challenge Google when it comes to search supremacy.
Well, when it comes to local search, that might not be true.
We’re not talking about Bing or Yahoo or any traditional search engine. Instead, the search option that might overtake Google in local search isn’t a search engine at all.
The social media giant is undeniably a powerhouse when it comes to marketing small businesses. And given how likely consumers are to connect with local brands on social media, it should come as no surprise that Facebook searches are making inroads against Google.
Here’s what you need to know to take advantage of Facebook search for your business.
#1: Facebook Is Using Location in New Ways
As recently as 2015, Facebook’s search function was quite ineffective for local search. People who searched for businesses near them got incomplete (and often inaccurate) results.
Today, in mid-2017, Facebook highlights the locations of businesses at the top of their home pages and on the “About” tab.
Facebook’s search function defaults now to local search. Before, if a user searched for a type of business, they might get results from their hometown – or from halfway around the world.
Today, the search returns only businesses located within a couple of miles of the searcher’s location. That’s a huge improvement.
Another key change is that Facebook now recognizes when to use location – and when to leave it alone.
For example, a search for a type of business or an attraction – such as a restaurant or a park – returns relevant local results showing Places first, and then local businesses as appropriate.
When a user searches for something else, such as a celebrity or book, Facebook disregards locations and returns other results that are relevant to the search.
#2: Facebook Local Searches Return Helpful Information
One of Google’s big advantages in local search is their ability to show relevant information – such as hours, distances, and maps – in their search results.
And now Facebook does that too.
In fact, when you search for a business on Facebook, you’ll see a ton of pertinent data in your list of search results, including:
- Profile picture and other photos
- The street address of the business
- The distance from you
- Whether the business is open or closed
- The average star rating from Facebook reviews
That’s a huge amount of information – and it can make a tremendous difference when it comes to attracting Facebook users to your business.
Everything they need to know is at their fingertips, and that means that you’ll get more clicks, calls, and visits as a result of Facebook search.
#3: Facebook Is Crowdsourcing Its Databases
One of Facebook’s value propositions for businesses is that it’s a social media giant with a huge number of users. As of June 2017, that number has topped two billion!
Two billion people have a ton of collective knowledge, and Facebook is now putting that knowledge to work for local businesses.
When a user checks in at a local business on Facebook, they get a series of questions about the business – questions designed to help other users learn about it.
For example, they might be asked:
- Does this business have parking?
- Does our map show the correct location of this business?
The benefit of this type of crowdsourcing is clear. It ensures that anybody who searches your business on Facebook will have access to accurate and detailed data about your business to help them decide whether to buy from you.
#4: Friend Posts and Local Search Are Integrated
Would you be more likely to frequent a local business if you knew your friends liked it?
If you’re like most people, the answer is yes. That’s because social proof is a huge driver of business in digital marketing.
Even reviews from strangers on sites like Yelp carry a lot of weight, with 88% of people saying they read reviews at least some of the time.
Facebook now uses Friend check-ins and posts in combination with local search.
What does that mean? When you search for a local business, you might see an announcement that the business was “visited by friends.”
You can click to see which friends have visited. And when you search for a business, you will also get Friend Posts in your search results so you can see what your friends have to say.
#5: Facebook Has Created City Guides
Which would you rather do when you visit a new city: go to a business that caters to tourists, or visit one that the locals love?
If you’re like a lot of people, you’d choose the latter option. Now, Facebook local search makes it easy for people to find out what the locals say about your business – and for locals to get to know about your business in a new way.
In addition to displaying business information such as location, hours, and reviews, the city guides also show which friends have visited each business listed.
Make the Most of Your Facebook Profile
Want people to be able to find you on Facebook? Here are some quick steps you can take to make it easy for them.
- Fill out your profile completely. Make sure that your name, address, and phone number are listed properly and consistent with other online listings.
- When you put in your address, check to make sure that Facebook displays a map with a pin at the top of your profile. (It should show up automatically, but doesn’t always!)
- Answer as many questions as you can, even if it means simply answering “no” to questions that don’t apply to you. This eliminates the need for crowdsourcing and ensures accuracy.
- Activate Facebook buttons like “Call” and “Make an Appointment” to streamline the interaction process.
- Add additional business categories if they apply to you. You only need to provide one, but adding additional options can broaden the chances that people will find you.
Providing Facebook with the information needed to help searchers find you is easy – and can have a huge impact on your traffic.
Google Still Matters…
… But Facebook matters too when it comes to local search.
Take a few minutes to optimize your business description and page – and see the difference that local Facebook traffic can make to your business.