Treating Facebook like a Local Search Engine

When Facebook created Graph Search in 2013, it was only a matter of time before it had a huge effect in the world of search engines. However, in terms of optimisation, it was somewhat limited. It gave results based on the relationships between people, places and things on Facebook, as opposed to a link that would give you the answer to your query like Google would. However, this changed in 2015.

Treating Facebook like a Local Search Engine: Graph Search

Before 2013, Facebook only gave results based on existing pages. There was a lack of logic in the algorithm other than the name of the person or page you were looking for. Graph Search changed all that.

Graph Search took pages, categories and people into a reel of filters that was personalised to each searcher, bringing different results for everyone. It even meant users could use casual language such as “friends near me that like chocolate cake” and bring results for just that. However, there were two flaws in this:

  • You had to know what and who you were looking for
  • You also had to hope that what you were in search of had a page or tag that was relative

The next move was keyword search. They took what already seemed impressive and added the function of bringing results based on keywords alone from your friends and more. However, it still had a long way to go before it could catch up. By 2015, Facebook had expanded their search to a global reach. You should search for any public post in their index. This brought Facebook up to compete with the likes of Google.

Viewing Facebook as a Search Engine

Before any real search functionality in Facebook, social media was simply seen as potential ranking signals and traffic boosters for your website. It wasn’t until 2014 when Facebook launched a new and improved version of their 2011 places directory that local business search became an area of competition.

Now, when searching for a local business on Facebook, you will see results similar to Google 3-pack. Facebook receives over 1.5 billion searches a day, with over 600 million users visiting business pages. They still have many changed to make to match up to Google but claiming just over 40 per cent of its biggest competitor is nothing to complain about.

Why Facebook is Essential for Local Businesses

Facebook has given different ways for customers to interact with brands than your average search engine. How, however, the search engine has come to Facebook we know that people are using it. Local businesses can be found through Facebook Search and they are also ranked due to search. This means that businesses should be optimising their Facebook pages to rank higher for specific queries. It’s essentially SEO for Facebook.

Facebook is Testing Search Ads

This year, Facebook has begun beta-testing search ads. They are yet to be keyword-based but serve as extensions of news feed ads and only on supported ad formats. This subtle testing could bring useful insights for pursuing a full search as a feature with keywords.

Facebook is aware that ad space in news feeds is on the decline and that people are using the search feature more. Facebook is seeing an opportunity within their own search engine and we can assume that their analytics are probably better than any researchers at this current time.


We may not have conclusive results yet as to how we can optimise our Facebook pages to succeed in Facebook search, but we can keep an eye out for the future. Search and More are consistently keeping an eye out for upcoming changes to marketing your business online. Get in touch to learn more about our services.

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