Facebook’s Graph Search

Posted by on Jan 15, 2013 in Facebook, Social Media

Introducing Graph Search, by Facebook

Just when you thought we were done with new search engines and change… BAM! Facebook hits us with their own version of search, Graph Search.
Facebook's Graph Search Logo
This unique offering is not a ‘traditional’ search engine. Just as with any engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Blekko, etc.) the Facebook Graph Search (GS) will scour an indexed database to find what a user searches for. The difference? The index is composed only of content available on Facebook, according to users’ privacy setting and the searcher’s association with the data.

As the official release from Tom Stocky and Lars Rasmussen points out, “When Facebook first launched, the main way most people used the site was to browse around, learn about people and make new connections. Graph Search takes us back to our roots and allows people to use the graph to make new connections.”

That being the case, my first question or concern comes from the friend making element, making friends become less genuine and isn’t that part of Facebook policy to only make friends with individuals you actually know? According to a post from Josh Constine, in some instances users were prevented from friending others because of either some type of friending system protection or too many requests in a given period. I will be interested to see how this is impacted by GS. I know I have come across these types of ‘errors’ fairly recently and can understand their purpose, but if a secondary purpose of GS is to “make new connections” as the release says, then they have to alter these restraints.

Screen shot from Facebook's GS

Screen shot from Facebook’s Graph Search featured in the introduction post.

In a related discussion, Mark Zuckerberg shares a zinger that offers some insight into this new change’s purpose according to one webmasters view of the video press conference, “Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and return to you the answer, not the links where you might get the answer. ”

In essence, Graph Search is Facebook’s answer to Google, the way Google+ was their answer to Facebook. Google has struggled to bring a feasible social offering in the past and made numerous mistakes along the way. I am sure that Facebook will make a number of errors as it begins to challenge the search giant.

Why am I focusing on Google and not Bing too? Good that you ask. From viewing and interacting with some of the functions of the beta form of Graph, it is clear that Bing has been involved in the development process and stands to share the benefits if GS should take off as hoped. In doing some suggested searches as mentioned in the release note for, say “restaurants in San Francisco,” a number of results will be displayed along with Bing results that involve maps and organic listings. Bing results in Facebook is nothing new, that is an old partnership. It appears, with Graph Search, the partnership has never been stronger and they are now ‘going steady.’

Along with the information in the release, Facebook offers a link: [For how Graph Search can help people discover your business, visit Facebook Studio.]

As you guessed, this is where the money is. Businesses will be key players in leveraging the new application as they can promote themselves and their wares in the service. Currently, there are no new ad layouts or changes to existing sponsorship plans. As we know, that will most certainly change. Although Facebook could leave GS in beta indefinitely, but there is value in bringing a product out of beta and into alpha or general release. One being that stock holders investors sponsors are more likely to sign up when they have some type of guarantee that you support your product and have worked out… most of the kinks.

The Wrapper

Graph Search is a big, nice step in the right direction; a direction of profitability and winning back some percentage of the saturated search market (thanks to Bing being a partner). It appears well thought out and was released in a very effective way so that lowly SEOs, SEMs, and social media marketers would be willing and wanting to share the news. If they want to keep momentum, the next step is to ensure multi-language support and offer the service to a larger audience. The only negative about this new service is the privacy concerns. Everyone still has a bit of bad taste from the Instagram attempted hoodwinking. It will be interesting to see how people absorb this new system and respond; will you be changing your Facebook privacy settings or letting it ride?

A. Chris TurnerAbout the Author: Chris Turner is also known as ChocolateSEO. CSEO is Chris' Nashville search marketing and consulting service offering a variety of services to help you, your company and any website maximize web-based marketing opportunities. He is the father of three girls, one boy (finally) and husband to the wonderful Savannah. Join the author's circle: Chris Turner on Google+.