Search engine marketing expert Steven Wyer offers up insight on recent Facebook improvements that may position the world’s largest social media network against Google as a direct local search competitor.
Q: What percentage of searches are performed via Google?
Steven Wyer: With over 100 Billion searches a month, approximately 63% of all search engine queries are performed through Google. Looking at mobile, that number is even higher with Google monopolizing the market with an astounding 95%.
Q: What makes Facebook a potential competitor?
Steven Wyer: Facebook is every bit as powerful as Google and already has the following of billions of people. It has the audience and resources to become a major search engine. Until recently, Google and Facebook have maintained relative peace with Google sticking to search and Facebook social media.
Q: How recently has Facebook made changes to its search capability?
Steven Wyer: Facebook has made significant improvements to search engine functionality over the last 18 months.
Q: What role does location play regarding mobile search?
Steven Wyer: Location can be thought of as the heart of local search. Google has always placed emphasis on proximity; Facebook has now added maps and addresses and provides more relevant results based on a device’s physical location.
Q: Does Facebook differentiate from localized searches and queries not relevant to location?
Steven Wyer: It does, yes. The “places” feature on Facebook now holds more weight in search results.
Q: Does emphasis on location offer a better user experience?
Steven Wyer: As recently as late 2015, Facebook searchers would be lucky to find one relevant result when performing a search query. Today, searches are much more relevant and are beginning to rival Google in accuracy. This has resulted in a faster and more enjoyable search experience for users already signed in to their Facebook account.
Q: What is indexing?
Steven Wyer: This is the process by which Google adds a webpage to its search results. Businesses specify through meta-tagging whether or not their site is added to results.
Q: How does the social aspect of Facebook affect users?
Steven Wyer: Facebook is testing new features and search results that will show when a friend has been to, or reviewed a specific business. Positive reviews, especially from trusted friends and family, may be the single most powerful determining factor on which business a searcher ultimately chooses to patronize.
Q: How does Facebook utilize crowdsourcing to make search results more relevant?
Steven Wyer: Similar to the Local Guides feature on Maps, many Facebook users are now being asked to answer simple yes or no questions relating to a specific area. Questions like “is this a family friendly place?” and “do they provide wifi?” are quickly answered and aggregated into powerful trustworthy information that helps refine results more accurately.
Q: What is Facebook City Guides?
Steven Wyer: City Guides is a Facebook feature that offers users information on popular places, including restaurants and tourist attractions. What sets it apart from any other product of its nature is that it shows users which of the user’s friends have checked into a specific venue.
Q: In your opinion, will Facebook overtake Google as the search engine giant?
Steven Wyer: I won’t call it just yet, but it is possible. Facebook already has a massive fan base and people are already logged in across multiple devices. However, Google remains a trusted name and perhaps has more technical expertise in the field. Only time will tell.