Facebook have released a series of updates that make it a major player in local search. The changes look a lot like direct challenges to Google’s local search function and are likely to benefit users and small businesses.
Here’s an overview:
The most obvious challenge is that Facebook has added a new ‘Local’ section to their Facebook App, allowing users to search for and discover relevant local businesses directly through Facebook.
New Mobile Pages
Their redesigned mobile Facebook pages now act like an actual web page, allowing users to see special offers, book, contact, enquire and make appointments directly through the mobile Facebook page, never leaving the site.
Facebook is making their ‘recommendations’ tool more prominent; aiming to help local businesses cultivate recommendations between users. Clicking the recommendation button on a company’s Facebook page will generate a Facebook post on the timeline of the person you wish to recommend it to. This is a personalised asset that Google doesn’t have, and it effectively provides the social proof and the trust that Google have tried to do with their reviews.
Why Should You Care?
It’s a preview of what’s to come for Facebook: they’re aiming to become a platform that users can do far more than just ‘like’ 9GAG posts on. They are moving toward being a site that users can use to connect, share, search and shop – without ever having to leave the Facebook ecosystem.
For businesses, it seems as though Facebook wants to create a space where a company Facebook page does everything a website can. Users can use it to contact, book, buy and even apply for a job (they’ve just made their job application tool available globally)
It’s a smart strategy for Facebook and one that can also benefit small local businesses by providing new ways to find customers and get ahead of their competition.