The last SEO Boy blog post of January 2011 and boy, do I feel late to the party with the information I am about to give you? (Insert fake marketing presentation enthusiasm here) Did you know:
- Facebook was (probably) the most searched phrase on Google in 2010?
- Facebook.com was the most visited page in 2010, surpassing Google.com as the king of Web traffic?
- More and more small businesses are using Facebook as their second homepage?
While I typically cringe when hearing these blanket, pro-social media statements, there is one thing I have to say about them. They are true.
Facebook accounts for approximately 2.7% of the search volume on the Internet. While this might not be a significant number to those of us in the SEO business, you can bet 2.7% percent is important to those brand and community mangers out there. Thus, when ranking organically in the independent states of Twitter or Facebook, small businesses can expect a have a pleasant boost on their overall marketing goals.
This first part of this blog post will help you navigate the young, convoluted, and ever-changing Facebook search landscape, while the second part of the post will help you to coordinate a social SEO strategy that will complement your overall SEO marketing plan.
Social SEO 101: Facebook Auto-Complete vs. Facebook SERP
There are two primary ways to search in Facebook. The first is through AutoComplete, the prominent search bar displayed in the top, center of your Facebook page.
The second way to search on Facebook is the more traditional search engine results page with pre-determined search filters (pages, people, web results, events, etc.).
True to the Zuckerburg mentality that Facebook knows what you want more than you know what you want, type a search term into the AutoComplete box, hit enter, and Facebook directs you to the first result in its auto-complete form (and not to a full SERP like in Google). To get to a full search results page, it takes an additional click on the “See more results for…” button.
The auto-complete is the best place a brand or company can rank. The most important item to note, however, is that in Facebook, personalization factors carry more significance than search volume. In other words, the more your brand’s content is shared and the more your organizations Facebook page is liked, the better your chances to rank. VerticalMeasures.com does a nice job of summarizing how the AutoComplete box ranks:
- That user’s name
- Events that user has been invited to
- Questions with the search term in it
- A friend of the user with the search term in the name
- A friend of a friend of the user with the search term in the name
- Groups that the user has joined
- Apps used by that user
- Pages that user has liked
- Pages related to that users interests
- Pages that users friends have liked
Facebook SERP Layout
The Facebook SERP offers a number of variables you can limit your search by: People, pages, web results, events, groups, etc.
Facebook defaults to the “All Results” search variable, which intermingles apps, events, people, pages, and all other Facebook goodies together in one results page.
Like AutoComplete, there are a few bits of knowledge that can help your organization and brand rank in the more traditional Facebook search:
- People, a.k.a friend or second degree friend with keyword in name
- Pages with keyword in page name in tandem with total likes. Can outrank friend with keyword in name… sometimes…
- Posts with keyword in posts (status updates, links shared, etc.)
- Web results, fueled by Bing (important to note for the blurring of lines between social media and search)
Imrpoving Ranks in Facebook Search
To optimize your company’s fan page for Facebook searches, content managers should concentrate on integrating target keywords into the following areas:
- Fan Page Name – Keep the fan page name branded. Resist the urge to get clever by attempting to integrate a keyword in fan page name as this cleverness could hurt your branded social search rankings in the long-term.
- Vanity URL – Similar to the fan page name, keep your vanity URL branded. Also, claim your company’s vanity page URL as soon as possible. Please note: It takes 25 page likes for Facebook to allow the vanity URL for fan pages.
- Keyword Driven Info Page and About Box – The info page tab and the about box are probably the most important places on your organization’s Facebook fan page to integrate target keywords. On the info page, be consistent with corporate branding for your organization’s products and services.
- Keyword Driven Status Updates – Adding target keywords to your status updates won’t only add to page relevancy with your current fans, but will also aid in your ranking results for real time search. Additionally, status updates are searchable in the traditional Facebook SERP as far back as 30 days. Finally, inserting keywords here may also be handy for your Twitter account if you happen to duplicate posts between a Facebook and a Twitter account.
- FBML Pages – Much like the Facebook info tab, you can add the FBML application to include more keywords on your fan page. Treat these tabs as if you were writing web copy for a company website. For example, keywords can be integrated into custom tabs that promote a contest, share a company’s schedule of events, or even a tab dedicated to a company’s history.
- Photo and Video Descriptions – Optimize all of your online multimedia content with your target keywords in mind. Following a general multimedia search engine optimization strategy across all of your marketing channels should be a primary SEO goal.
- Adjust Privacy Setting – If you are an individual, you might want to put your Facebook page on lockdown from the general public. However, if you are a company, I suggest opening your page and content up to everyone.
- Facebook Likes – Promote giveways and contests, ask questions and conduct polls, and engage with your audience as authentically as you can. Basically, do everything possible to increase the number of likes on your fan page. Consider every like a vote to your page’s authority.
Hopefully, this will stand as a starter guide for how the internal Facebook search algorithm works. In addition, the 8 steps above should guide you through the basic social SEO marketing strategies. For a more comprehensive guide to all things Facebook SEO and Ranking, check out aimClear’s study on Facebook’s internal search. AimClear has provided a great resource for us SEO specialists just beginning to dabble in the social SEO realm. Kudos!