Top 10 Facebook Graph Search Questions Answered

Here's what content marketers, SEO consultants, social media experts and even business owners need to know about the Facebook Graph Search tool.

By James A. Martin
Tue, January 29, 2013

CIO — With its Jan. 15 announcement of Facebook Graph Search, has the social network changed the art and science of organic search engine optimization (SEO)? Or has nothing changed at all for businesses that are already practicing SEO, social media and content marketing?

To find out, we asked three experts to walk us through Facebook Graph Search and explain what it means for businesses today and in the near future.

1: What Is Facebook Graph Search?

Facebook logo

Facebook Graph Search focuses on people, photos, places and interests. Graph Search replaces Facebook's more limited search tool and lets users perform specific searches that connect the dots between people in their network.

In Pictures: Facebook's New Graph Search

For example, you could search "music my friends who live in San Francisco, California listen to." The result will be a graphical list of musician and band Facebook fan pages your San Fran friends "liked" (by clicking Facebook's Like button). You'll also see which of your friends liked each artist, and you can click the "Like" button within the search results, too. Microsoft's search engine Bing remains integrated into Facebook search to help users find content outside Facebook. Meanwhile, when you're signed into Facebook using Bing, the search engine recently includes a sidebar of keyword search results from content in your Facebook network.

2: Is Facebook Graph Search Available to Everyone Now?

No. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that Graph Search is in "very early beta" and will roll out gradually to U.S. English users. It will eventually become available to Facebook mobile users and those in other languages.

"Several Facebook product people are on record saying they still have work to do to figure out how to scale the computationally intensive searches across millions of concurrent users," says Ben Straley, vice president of social technologies for Rio SEO and Covario. "Nontrivial engineering challenges stand in the way of mass availability."

In a statement, Facebook notes that users can search for a subset of content on Facebook. "Posts and Open Graph actions (for example, song listens) are not yet available," the company says. "We'll be working on these things over the coming months."

To start using Facebook Graph Search as soon as possible, get on the waiting list.

3. How Is a Google Search Different From a Facebook Graph Search?

Google (and other search engines) index the entire public Web so you can quickly find the latest news articles, videos or other online content related to a specific keyword or phrase.

In contrast, Facebook Graph Search combines phrases—"people who like tennis and live nearby," for example, or "languages my friends speak." The Graph Search results are the people, places, photos or other content accessible to you within your Facebook network.

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