For the second time in my life, I found something in a Google search result that made me sure my professional life was about to change forever. The first was almost a decade ago when a simple search revealed the listings of 3 local businesses at the top of the results. I was a sales manager in the yellow page industry at the time. I knew instantly, these results foreshadowed the demise of the industry from which I was earning a living. That day I started preparing for the career I enjoy today.
2 days ago I had a similar experience. The writing was, quite literally, on the Wall. My Wall and yours. Let’s start with a screenshot of the search result in Google: >
When I initially came across the result pictured above, I didn’t think much of it, Facebook pages often show up in search results. The thing that made me curious was the familiar way with which the title and url structure appeared to be optimized for search. ‘Click’ oh my… Here’s what I found:
The screenshot above reveals a facebook category/town page. This is clearly yellow-pages-centric. 4 business listings organized by geography and buiness type, that’s the yellow page recipe. Clicking on any of these listings brings you to an unclaimed facebook page. Here’s the screenshot when I click on the first one:
It’s like the love child of a Google Place page and a Facebook business info page- Placebook (Interestingly, a whois look-up for placebook.com reveals the owner of the domain as E-bay).
To navigate to your facebook yellow pages, go to your Wall and click on the link to your hometown in the top right. If you can’t find the link, update the hometown field in your facebook settings. After you click the link, you’ll notice the business listings and a box from which you can change the business category.
There are two things that make me think Facebook can be a real contender in Local Search. The first is the sheer awesomeness of the results. The algorithm that will generate the results will be built around your network of Friends (presumably) and will include photos of your friends along with the results, as you saw when you clicked on the link to your hometown. That is the epitome of local/social.
The second thing is content. I recently read that more small business owners have created facebook pages than websites.
It will take a while for Facebook to catch up with Google. They still have to build out the infrastructure of a product that is clearly in its infancy. And they have to get people in the habit of “searching” for things on Facebook.
They could begin by optimizing for Google like everyone else. Which appears to be exactly what they did.