July 27, 2010
This is the second post in the summer school edition. For most people, search is synonymous with Google, Yahoo or Bing. In fact, this is what most SEOs are talking about when creating strategies for search. How to rank in search engines which sole purpose is to display search results.
However, searches are being conducted all the time. The difference between standard engine search and social search is that social search is created through spontaneous interaction rather than contextual belonging. Think of it this way. Any update we post on facebook, twitter, wordpress etc. could be seen as a search query. We are posting our thoughts, our questions or some other resource that we want to share with the rest of the world. We search for content consumers with our content sharing. At best, we anticipate that this post will induce some sort of reaction. This reaction is generally spontaneous and based on what we manage to trigger in the people who see our post.
So. If we consider all posts, updates and entries of media into the web as a search query. What used to be static content, becomes dynamic and social objects of data that are searching for context and people to like them. As the social web allows for human interaction, this is the most logic elaboration of the content, links and people components that the web consist of.
This post however, will be about something more down to earth than the philosophical question of what the web is about. This post will be about how to rank in Facebook Search.
There are basically two ways in which you can rank in Facebook search.
- With a Facebook Page
- With a standard HTML page on your website
Ranking with groups, applications etc. follow the same theoretical ground so you should be able to use this knowledge if you’re running those kind of campaigns as well.
Ranking with a website, page or group in Facebook Search
When Google started out ranking pages they constructed a metric called PageRank. This PageRank was dependent upon how many people had referenced a specific page and what words they were using on the linking page. Thus, it was no longer as important to cram your website with a specific keyword, but it became more important that other people used that important keyword on the page that they were linking from. Even better, if they used that keyword to link to you.
In the world of Facebook, they are also using a sort of validated PageRank to index their pages. We generally call these links “fans”. Facebook has changed the button name from Become Fan to Like or Recommend. The fact however remains that Facebook has created their own type of PageRank where they index and rank different online resources – personal profiles, facebook pages, groups and applications – based on how many fans they have that are related to you.
The last part of the above stated is probably the most important. It is not the nominal number of fans on a page or in a group that makes your page rank. It is the social closeness of the page to the searcher that makes it rank. It is important to understand this concept, especially when optimizing your ad campaigns for Facebook pages. You cannot just create a facebook campaign based on keywords, but you have to move your campaign between different demographics, acquire some members until you start ranking in that demographic, then move on to another one. The more successful you are in analyzing how many fans you need in a certain group of people in order to rank as number one, the more successful your growth will be in Facebook Search.
This means you shouldn’t spend all your money becoming number one. But you should spend your money on acquiring the right people to put you as number one, making you show up to all their friends and friends of friends when they search on related topics to you.
Thus, ranking anything available on Facebook is a question of acquiring the right kind of fans. In order to rank your webpages as groups, pages and community pages on Facebook you need to make them into social objects. These social objects shall be given the OpenGraph properties so that Facebook can add them in the right way.
Adding your website to the Open Graph – create social objects
Below is a video on how to add your web pages to the Social Graph by including the OpenGraph protocol on your pages. This will take you approximately 30 minutes to do if you know what your website is about. If some of you don’t, call me!! hehe…
This is the code that you should be adding. You can look at the source code of my website. I have written a stand alone post on how to add the “Like” button which you can find by clicking Like Button for Facebook. You can find the rest of the OpenGraph protocol source code here.
<html xmlns:og="http://opengraphprotocol.org/schema/" xmlns:fb="http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml"> <head> <title>The Rock (1996)</title> <meta property="og:title" content="The Rock"/> <meta property="og:type" content="movie"/> <meta property="og:url" content="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500/"/> <meta property="og:image" content="http://ia.media-imdb.com/rock.jpg"/> ... </head> ... </html>
The most important fact you need to pay notice to is that this does not make your pages rank. The liking does. Not the inclusion. I have no idea on when Facebook will actually start ranking more pages, but here is a ranking example of how TripAdvisor have managed to start ranking in Facebook search.
- Search for TripAdvisor
- On top should be the TripAdvisor page
- Click “Pages” in the left hand menu
- Your search result will look different from mine but somewhere you will find a snippet that looks like the one below with a web address in it
In this search result it is the second snippet.
- Click the link
- Watch how Facebook redirects you to a “normal” web page and not a standard Facebook Page
These types of rankings can be obtained by integrating your web platform with the Facebook OpenGraph protocol and adding a like button to your website.
Link Values from Facebook
What the Facebook OpenGraph integration also give you is a load of links to your website from Facebook profiles. That is if you are successful in getting people to like your content.
As most of the info pages are public on Facebook and as they are being crawled by Google, this must help you a lot with your standard SEO work. Remember that you can probably build a great microsite network by integrating all your micro websites in the OpenGraph protocol. Just a thought … hehe…
SEO tactic for Facebook
So, as your strategy shall basically come down to “creating compelling/extraordinary content” you should really focus on the tactics. The tactics are the difficult and fun part of working in Social media. The strategy is the dull and boring part of the work. As I said, all it comes down to is virtually – hire great people, who are social and can create great content, be transparent in your intentions and always treat others like you want to be treated. If you do not know, ask the community to help out.
I guess that’s what my next post shall be about.
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