Facebook is testing new features related to local search. These features affect the search results shown within Facebook. If you’re a business with multiple brick-and-mortar stores, they also increase the benefit of setting up a main business page with multiple location pages.
While not much is being said about the new Facebook features, according to TechCrunch, Facebook is testing much more robust, and helpful, local search features that may rival the usefulness of Google’s local search.
What Exactly Is Facebook up To?
Currently, Facebook doesn’t have much of anything to help someone find coffee, shopping, or other products, services, and places nearby. While some “near me” searches return a map with a few results, the map is often buried below an extremely non-useful list of businesses located in any part of the world (for me the businesses all seem to be in Pakistan and India…?) and old posts from your friends that contain some of the related words.
When the map does appear, the places listed are not sorted by distance, friend rating, or any other noticeable metric. Even when searching for the same keywords, the results are not consistent. The results that appear do contain useful information similar to information in Google local packs. Information includes: name, address, phone, ratings, pricing info, photos, and the call to action specified by each business.
According to TechCrunch, the new types of search results for “coffee shops near me,” etc. move the map up in the Facebook search results page on desktop and mobile. Ideally they will also feature more informative, relevant results, although the results were still hit and miss in testing.
The results will offer insight from others who have visited the location in addition to the featured business information. This helps the searcher get an overall feel for others’ opinions of the service, products, and atmosphere.
A (vastly) improved Facebook search has huge implications. Facebook has massive amounts of information and data on business and customer trends. In some ways, their information extends deeper than the information Google uses. Facebook can go a level deeper than customer reviews. It can show us exactly what our friends think of places nearby, and what public conversations say.
Were Facebook to push harder for location check-ins, it could further grow its treasure trove of information on local businesses. It could potentially eclipse Google’s ability to collect, connect, and present individually-relevant information to a searcher. Certainly, based on number of connections and monthly active users, Facebook has the potential to connect information from users’ friends and connections like no other platform can.
With this in mind, it’s a wonder Facebook hasn’t already dived into local search. It does, however, seem intent on catching up.
Implications for Your Business
Of course, you must have a Facebook business page in order for your business to show up on Facebook’s new search (when it’s completed and live). Setup is simple enough, and Facebook continues to update the features available to businesses.
For example, the Boostability Facebook page could now be upgraded to a “main page” and host multiple locations.
This change does not benefit Boostability though, as Boostability doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar storefront for customers to visit. In fact, it would actually hurt the Facebook page because upgrading to a main page removes all reviews and ratings.
However, a main page that can host multiple locations is significant for franchises/businesses with multiple physical locations.
We’ll watch this space closely in the coming months to see what changes Facebook makes permanent and globally available as well as how they will impact local search. One thing is for sure; having your business on Facebook is becoming more and more beneficial. It will only become more so with the launch of an improved local search on Facebook.
Check out the additional tools on the Boostability website to help you with your marketing on Facebook and other social media channels.