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14 Ways Facebook Homes In On Local Search

With the announcement of Facebook Home, Facebook has pushed the accelerator on its local mobile strategy, which was already in high gear, thanks to Facebook Local Search and its big brother, Facebook Graph Search. By the end of 2013, I expect the social media giant to further strengthen its hold as the #2 local search app; so, it might behoove local marketers to get a handle on exactly how their businesses are showing up in Facebook these days.

There are numerous ways that local business data makes it into Facebook, including:

  • “Link” buttons on local business sites
  • “Share on Facebook” buttons from local review sites, local deal sites and other business directories
  • Check-in apps
  • Location data attached to images (e.g., from Instagram)
  • Bing Local (Bing provides the default Web search on Facebook)
  • Neustar Localeze (provider of the base US business listings data for Facebook Local Search & Facebook Place Pages)
  • Business owners adding their own data

So, make sure you have a good handle on the status of your business data in those services because, as you’ll see, Facebook is a virtual maze of business data. Here are all of the places in that maze where your business might appear:

Reviews In Timeline

Yelp reviews can be shared on a user’s Facebook Timeline, which links back to the business’s Yelp profile.  Thus, it is important to ensure that your data on Yelp (and other major review sites) is up-to-date and includes plenty of great photos to encourage sharing.

Yelp Reviews in Facebook Timeline

Check-Ins In Timeline

Foursquare Check-Ins can also be shared via Facebook, which similarly link back to a business’s Foursquare profile. I have noticed local businesses in Pleasanton providing incentives for customers to check-in via Foursquare or Yelp. But, how about incentivizing customers to share that check-in on Facebook?

Foursquare Check-Ins Shared in Facebook Timeline

Places Widget In Timeline

The Places widget on the Facebook Timeline, which appears embedded on a Bing/Nokia Map, shows a user’s most recent check-ins.

Places Widget in Facebook Timeline

Facebook Map

All users have a Facebook Map attached to their user profile which highlights all the places they’ve ever checked into or have been tagged. I don’t want to get all creepy on you, but you could check out your customers’ Facebook Maps to get a better idea of where they go and what they do, so you can better target them.

Facebook Places on Facebook Map

Status Updates From Location

Adding a location to a Facebook status update often prompts the user to select from a list of nearby businesses. Want your business to appear here? Ensure that it’s listed in Neustar Localeze’s database.

Status Update With Check-In

Facebook Ads/Sponsored Stories

I have two girls — take pity on me.

Miss Tiffanys

Facebook Local Search

The algorithm formerly known as “Facebook Nearby.” Again, make sure that, at a minimum, you’re in Neustar Localeze to appear in these results.

Facebook Local Search

Facebook Places Results

When Facebook detects a query with local intent in its main search app, the user is shown Places results, which consist of a combination of the Neustar Localeze data and claimed Facebook Pages for relevant businesses. As you can see in the example below, claimed businesses have enhanced results that help them stand out among a sea of generic unclaimed listings. So, go claim your Facebook Page already!

Facebook Places in Search Results

Claimed Facebook Place Pages

Here’s what a claimed Facebook Place Page looks like. You can add various features to these pages, but the most important thing about claiming your business on Facebook is that you have control over what appears on them.

Facebook Place Page

Unclaimed Facebook Place Pages

The big problem with unclaimed Facebook Place Pages is that they show a list of competitors near your business. It’s still hard to believe that there are businesses out there that haven’t claimed their Place Page yet.

Unclaimed Facebook Place Page

Local Topic Pages

City+Category results linked from Place Pages. Please don’t make me go to Chuck E Cheese. Please.

Facebook Local Topic Pages

Bing Local Web Results

When a user clicks on a local query in the “search the web” section of Facebook’s search results, they get a set of local results powered by Bing Business Portal. For best visibility, make sure that you have claimed and updated your business info on Bing.

Bing Local Web Results in Facebook

Facebook Local Graph Search

Local results influenced by Friends’ likes, shares, locations, etc., are another place where your business might appear. To ensure that your business can do well in Graph Search, make sure you have a Facebook Place Page for each business location; regularly add content to these pages (e.g., menus, events, promotions, etc.) to keep them fresh, and add keywords that make them eligible for more queries. And, don’t forget to generate plenty of local “Likes,” as these will likely help improve your visibility in Graph Search.

Facebook Local Graph Search

Coming Soon! Facebook Home Local

You can imagine that, eventually, the businesses mentioned in Chat Heads will link to the Facebook Place Page, and Facebook has said it will be showing ads on the lock screens of Facebook Home. I don’t expect Facebook Home to change how you market your business on Facebook, but I imagine that, over time, we will see Facebook enable local marketers to continue to make its service a local social marketing machine.

Facebook Home Local

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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