Facebook is the powerhouse in the social media industry. For years, they have been the top social media site in the world and just last week they became the first social site to reach over 2 billion users! However, the social media giant isn’t stopping there. Now, they are setting their sights on the local search industry as well.
This isn’t the first time we have heard of Facebook’s attempts to break into the area of local search, but for the most part they have been pretty much off the radar in comparison to sites like Google and Yelp…until now that is!
Currently, Google holds over 63% of the market share for web searches and as much as 95% of the market for the rapidly growing mobile searches. However, Facebook has been steadily improving their local search capabilities and features to the point where they are now an undeniable threat to Google’s controlling interest over the local search industry.
Here are 5 ways Facebook is moving to compete in the local search industry:
Facebook’s size, audience and resources:
Facebook’s qualifications for joining the battle for market share in the local search industry include over 2 billion active users, millions of business pages and the financial/labor resources to build out its own proprietary local search engine.
With Facebook’s enormous user base comes all their demographic information and behavioral data. This volume and accuracy of personal data is something even Google can’t compete with and gives Facebook a leg up when it comes to connecting users with the most relevant businesses.
Additionally, as a social network, Facebook’s massive audience revolves around interaction and social engagement. After Google officially discontinued their G+ pages for businesses, this is another area of search where Facebook has the upper hand. Users searching the millions of business pages on Facebook have the ability to view relevant posts, engage directly with the business and see which of their friends have liked or visited certain businesses.
Greater emphasis on location:
Local search is all about location. 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within 5 miles. People using local search aren’t looking for a business that is a 30-minute drive from their location, they want something that can satisfy their needs right then and there.
This desire for more location specific results is why Facebook has put a greater emphasis on maps and locations for their Places and Business pages. Facebook is now providing maps and location data in their search results as well as making this information more prevalent on the actual business pages.
Places are given priority when relevant:
When Facebook first began including all public posts and pages in their search results, places and business pages were some of the last items to be included in the results. Even if you tried searching for something like “Best Restaurants” you would be hard pressed to find an actual restaurant in your search results. If you were fortunate enough to have a restaurant near the top of your search results, it would almost never be in the same city as you.
Facebook has since greatly improved its understanding of user intent. That means the search results are more intuitive and attempt to predict what users want. This has helped Facebook to provide searchers with more functional and relevant search results. They have even started predicting what you will search for and have begun providing suggested local search topics.
Providing users with accurate and consistent business information is one of the most important aspects when it comes to building a successful tool for local search. If users can’t trust the information you are providing, they will go elsewhere to find the correct information.
With 2 billion active users, why not leverage that resource to help improve the experience for everyone? Facebook is using its users to help weed out incorrect business information and add details that will assist future searchers. When users check in to different places on Facebook, they are being prompted to answer questions such as “Are these the correct hours for this location?” and “How expensive is this place?”.
One of the final, and most interesting features of Facebook’s new local search improvements is the “City Guides” feature. City Guides is where the social aspect of local search really comes into play and highlights how Facebook can leverage its social database to provide something Google can’t.
With City Guides, users can visit a specific city’s page and see actual places where their Facebook friends have already been within that city. This is a powerful form of social proof that really hits home with users. It’s not just showing them what places are popular in the city but it is showing users where people they know personally have actually been. By connecting users with businesses based off where their friends have already been and recommended it greatly reduces the risk customers feel when debating to try a new business for the first time.
In addition to seeing where your friends have been, users can also choose to “Explore” the city or browse through “Places the Locals Go”. These options connect users with the most popular and highest rated businesses in the city. City Guides is a great way for users to discover new businesses that have proven to be trustworthy and provide a great experience.
As Facebook continues to gain market share in the local search industry, it becomes more and more important to manage your reputation and ensure listing accuracy across multiple channels. Schedule a FREE demo with Chatmeter to learn how we help businesses boost their page one rankings across all of the local search sites helping them increase their online to offline conversions.