Last month, not long after Facebook Nearby was released, I wrote a short report: Facebook Nearby: What Does It Mean for the Local Market? After yesterday’s announcement of Facebook Graph Search many of the things I said in that document could be extended to the new product, which is not live yet for most people.
Graph Search is clearly a big deal for local. Precisely how it impacts other competitors remains to be seen (it will however). But people will use Facebook for local search. Furthermore, Graph Search and Nearby should reinforce one another.
If Facebook’s execution is successful and the UX is good then the local search market may consolidate around Google, Facebook, Yelp and to some degree Apple in mobile. Vertical and niche sites/apps will remain viable and perhaps continue to thrive. But “thin” horizontal local sites could effectively be done.
I haven’t yet used Graph Search; I’m in New York for a series of meetings and didn’t attend the event yesterday. There’s lots of great coverage, including several useful articles on Search Engine Land:
- Facebook Graph Search Arrives To Challenge Google, Yelp, Foursquare & Others
- SEO For Facebook Graph Search? Facebook Has Some Tips
- How The New Facebook Search Is Different & Unique From Google Search
- Up Close With Facebook Graph Search
Here’s my very condensed take on Graph Search:
Facebook Nearby was in part about getting more businesses (especially SMBs) to create a Facebook presence. Somewhere between 45% and 70% say they’re already on Facebook. This creates further incentive to be on Facebook and to optimize that page (get Likes, add content).
While Facebook Graph Search is limited to four areas now, it will expand. Those four areas are People, Photos, Places and Interests. Most if not all of those have local implications. The early weakness of the product will probably be data and the fact that Facebook’s local database is limited or incomplete vs other competitors. This was especially true in my test of Nearby vs. Yelp.
Nearby was Facebook’s toe-in-the-water into (local) search; Graph Search is the big splash. It doesn’t matter that Facebook’s not taking on Google directly — it was never going to do that. However it can become more and more useful to people though the refinement of Graph Search. And it could capture an increasing number of high-value local lookups.
There will be advertising. And that advertising will definitely have local implications. What it will look like precisely remains to be seen but it will ultimately become a meaningful revenue driver for the company.
For all those third parties seeking to manage social on behalf of SMBs: better rethink your offerings in a big way. Between Graph Search and Nearby the game has really changed (see Matt McGee’s article above SEO For Facebook Graph Search? Facebook Has Some Tips.) Now those services can/should include: Page setup and Page optimization for both Graph Search and Nearby.
While it’s still a bit too early to say I’m not going that far out on a limb to argue that it’s possible Facebook Graph Search (and Nearby) could become just as important in local as Google.
How significant an impact do you think Graph Search and Nearby will have on local? Who will it/they hurt? Who might they help?