ADOTAS – Many companies today are still asking the question “Why do I need to be on Facebook?” To some, the Internet giant is still seen as a purely social network aimed at younger generations (Gen X, Y, and Millennial users), or at companies selling direct-to-consumer products.
Small to mid-size B2B companies may still have a hard time justifying why time and energy should be spent on a platform that may not directly impact the organization’s bottom line. While Facebook is reaching out to and attracting users from older generations, the once purely social site is also maturing from a business standpoint.
Over the past few months we’ve heard a lot about Facebook’s partnership with Microsoft and the many possibilities that this integration may offer. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that its underdog search engine, Bing, was going to start integrating with Facebook during searches, and the SEO world jumped.
How will this effect SEO if search results are no longer based solely on how many people in general have visited a site, but instead are swayed by the number of hits from personal friends or social network connections?
After some initial research of our own, we found that Bing does give a high priority to Facebook results. For U.S. companies, this means one thing: get yourself on Facebook, NOW. While Bing is not relevant enough in Europe to make a difference at the moment, we suggest that European companies watch Bing closely. When the search engine’s market share breaks 10%, European companies should have an active presence on Facebook.
To those of us in the SEO business, the big story isn’t necessarily how the results will be affected by Facebook’s “likes”. It’s the potential of Facebook becoming an individual’s (and a corporation’s) go-to social network hub AND search engine. Previously, if you searched a company or name that wasn’t on Facebook, you would have to leave the site to conduct additional research. And with approximately 2.5 billion searches per day, most people were leaving Facebook to search with Google. But with only very small changes to the current Bing integration, leaving Facebook and choosing another search provider would no longer be needed – a user’s Bing search results would be listed along with Facebook search results.
This past September, comScore released statistics that showed that Facebook had passed Google as the site the general population spent the most time visiting while online. Additionally, Yahoo edged out Google in August to become the top site in monthly traffic, with 179 million unique visitors. Google had 178.8 million, with Microsoft trailing with 165.3 million.
Microsoft’s response: leapfrogging right over their competition. Put another way: imagine building a virtual bridge straight from the biggest pool of your customers, right over your competition, and straight to you. In essence, this is what the Facebook/Bing integration accomplishes. And it may well push Bing out in front of Yahoo and Google.
On an SEO front, it will be interesting to see what this partnership actually does to search results. Adding the opinions of people that you know and trust (your Facebook friends) does change the basic structure of how search engines, and their algorithms, work. But mainly it’s going to mean that companies are going to need to work even harder to create experiences and interactions online to drive their SEO.