Will Local Search Move to Facebook?
Read how Facebook may be preparing to become the local services search engine:
Local businesses have recognized for some time now they need to have an internet presence. The days when potential customers used the telephone book to find services, whether a doctor, restaurant, or plumber, are gone. (If you didn’t know that already, please read Why Local Search)
While there may have been a few telephone directories in the past, the options for your potential customers is more varied now. One of the biggest advantages for individuals looking for the best provider is that these options include “social proof,” also known as reviews.
Google has long been the major search engine for big business as well as local business. But that status is not guaranteed, especially as they keep changing their system, frustrating users and businesses alike.
Other options include services like Yelp and Angie’s List.
Facebook started moving into this territory as well. To conduct a search in their area, a Facebook user simply types in the URL Facebook.com/services and they will see a screen similar to the one shown above.
Although your home city (what you registered when you created your Facebook account) will be displayed, you can easily change that by simply typing in the city and state where you happen to be. That means if you are at work or on vacation, you can still use this new service.
Like many other directories, and most notably Angie’s and Yelp, Facebook has compiled a searchable directory.
Car won’t start? Use Facebook to find an Automotive Repair shop nearby that can get you back on the road.
This appears to be a silent test. No announcement has been reported coming from Facebook. But the word is leaking out…and here are out thoughts…
A Facebook spokesperson recently issued this statement about the feature:
“We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in.”
The site is pretty easy to use. It is simple and straight forward.
Although many other sources are purporting this new service is only available on desktop computers, we had no problem accessing it from either an iPad or Droid phone. Clearly, not a conclusive test, but still a good sign for mobile users.
A user can find a business by clicking on one of the pictures or scrolling down to the list. At least for now, the pictures offering services was pretty weak. First, there were only 8 options offered. Worse, the pictures had little or nothing to do with the category–the “Medical & Health” category featured a picture of a local sports bar!
The challenge with the list method, “Explore other services” is that it could easily lead someone to believe these are the only categories that Facebook is serving up. This is not true, and we actually found that simply typing into the search box was the easiest method of finding the type of business you are looking for. Just start typing and a list will show up that you can choose from.
What we like about this search method is that it appears to be all encompassing.
Facebook is not trying to specialize in only home services or only entertainment, or other limiting factors. That means we don’t need to switch between Angie’s List, Yelp, Hot Frog and any number of other directories to find the businesses we are looking for.
Well, the business must have a Facebook page. You do have one, don’t you?
How are the results determined?
Since Facebook isn’t issuing a big announcement about this service we are left to wonder how they are serving up the businesses. It doesn’t appear to be biased towards the number of ratings. Or is it?
During our, non-exhaustive search our conclusion is that if you already like a business, it is going to come up first in your search.
On the other hand, if you have not liked a business page in that category then you are likely to be served up the highest rated businesses first. Now, how the algorithm determines the highest ratings seems to be a combination of the number of different ratings and the number of stars they were rated. *whew* That sounds like too much math for me!
If you don’t already have a Facebook page for your business, it is important that you get one, pronto.
If your business already has a page on Facebook, be sure it is optimized so that users in your area can find you–that, in a nutshell is what local search is all about.
If you don’t know how to do either of these things, contact us and we can get that done for you.