With the advent of Facebook’s new Open Graph Protocol announced at their developers conference last week, there has been no shortage of criticism as to what’s private, what’s open, and if this makes Facebook even more open and more closed. While I’ve certainly made my opinion known, there is really little that needs to be said from a brand perspective. It’s quite obvious that Facebook is now a force to be reckoned with, and businesses, brand managers, and so-called “social media experts” should start paying attention. Perhaps the group that should be paying most attention though are those that currently pay attention to SEO for their company, or the brands they represent. With Facebook’s entry into the search space last week, Facebook should now be part of every company’s SEO plan.
Just last week, Mark Zuckerberg was quite clear when he said, announcing Facebook’s new Open Graph Protocol, that Facebook was working to make “people index the web”. No longer are the days of complex algorithms, PhDs focusing on the fastest and most relevant search results through code. What better way to provide relevant content and experience for what people are looking for, and often even when they don’t even know they need it, than through their friends’ activity on Social Networks. Search is now all about relevancy.
I find it ironic that before Google, Sergei Brin’s focus at Stanford was actually a relevancy engine surrounding movies your friends watched. His project centered around looking at how your friends rated movies and then provided suggestions based on the movies your friends like. He quickly scrapped that when the idea behind Google came along. Now, as the tides turn, Mark Zuckerberg took that entire focus of friends’ activity and suggestions, and is building the entire web around it, and just now he’s coming back to focus search around it.
What does Open Graph Protocol have to do with all this? Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol is just a series of meta tags that enables Facebook, when specific Social Plugins are installed on a site (or the site is registered through Facebook Insights), to begin tracking that website. Each website can provide very specific information about itself, and how it relates to the Facebook (or other) networks. If you view the source of this blog you’ll notice I even get so specific as to identifying what my phone number is and what e-mail address you can contact me with. All this information gets registered with Facebook.
Now, when you search in Facebook for “Stay”, this blog should show up in those search results, taking you right back to this blog, and providing you relevant results based on the usage and likes of yourself and your friends, something much more powerful than just an anonymous link network. Each and every website on the internet has this opportunity to now appear in the Facebook search results, and with little effort, intercept itself between the friends of its viewers so they can easily share it with others. That’s a very powerful concept, and so far in just the last week, over 50,000 websites are already taking advantage of this!
SEO is something that is now a standard part of any businesses web budget. It’s simple – you build common strategies for formulating your content to appear properly in Google and others’ search results. You try to guess the keywords you want your website to appear high under, and adapt the content of your site to make finding it in search engine results much easier. Now, you’re going to need to do the same with Facebook. Each SEO manager within a company should seriously be considering adding the proper Open Graph Protocol meta tags in their site, and, by doing so, they will now appear in Facebook’s search results as well.
Facebook has made it clear that this is a search game. The release of Open Graph Protocol makes this clearer, and you should be paying attention. Through your likes, Facebook now has the potential to provide near exact matches of advertising towards exactly what you’re looking for, without you even knowing you needed it. That, my friends, is the holy grail of advertising.
Now, take those ads and spread them across the web, just like adwords/adsense. Give website owners a cut for sharing them on their site. You now have near perfect contextual advertising across every website on the web, Facebook becomes even bigger as they make more money from those ads, and the web becomes a better place by providing an experience you, the user, actually want to receive. The brands advertising make more money, as does Facebook, because ads aren’t being wasted on people that do not want to receive them.
Facebook just did something huge last week. It is now in the interest of every single company out there to be getting their brand visible in the Facebook search so this can happen. This is a search game more than it is social. Facebook just made it a whole heck of a lot more valuable for you to be investing in SEO, but this time it’s on Facebook’s terms, not Google’s, and in the end everyone wins. Well, except maybe Google. If Facebook isn’t currently a part of your company’s SEO strategy it’s time to start re-thinking what SEO means to you and your company. Like it or not, Facebook is the new SEO.