It’s common knowledge now that Facebook has been exploding in popularity. For many years, this growth had no impact on search engine companies like Google. However, a recent development might have placed Facebook directly in Google’s face when it comes to competition for the opportunity to provide users with a quality search experience. In this article, we’ll be talking about exactly what this development is and how you can plan your SEO and internet marketing strategy around it.

The New Facebook Search Patent Is Here

In the early part of this year, a patent was awarded to Facebook called:  “Visual tags for search results generated from social network information,” The official description of this patent reads like this:

“Search results, including sponsored links and algorithmic search results, are generated in response to a query and are marked based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of the social network who are within a predetermined degree of separation from the member who submitted the query. The markers are visual tags and comprise either a text string or an image.”

In other words, Facebook is planning to add a search option that uses information from a person’s Facebook social circle (friends lists and groups or pages which the user is associated with) to serve up search results to the user. This means the results of a user’s search will be determined by more than just the keywords which they type into the search bar. Instead, the search results will be based on the person’s behaviors and their social connections online.

Since Facebook has the most robust collection of this type of information, this new search option could prove to be a real problem for Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

What These Changes Will Mean for Search Engine Companies

In the past few years, Google has been focusing more attention on user behaviors to determine the relevancy and value of a website. Much of this has been done in response to millions of spammers attempting to achieve favorable placement in the search engine results through sneaky SEO strategies.  Now, Facebook seems to be stepping into the picture to fill a clear and present need which Google might have a hard time filling: the need for people to find the most relevant information possible and as quickly as possible.  

Social search options such as the features mentioned in Facebook’s new search patent application present a dynamic solution to making the search features of the interest more relevant and attractive to human users.  This means that Google will not only find itself directly competing with Facebook, but they could also end up in a position where they either need access to Facebook social search data or will be forced to create something similar to Facebook, which at this point would certainly prove to be an uphill battle for Google.

So the battle between the two internet giants Facebook and Google is surely underway. The question for many marketers and SEO specialists who have been working hard to please Google is:

“What can I do to prepare for the changes to come?”

How to Keep Your Marketing Relevant in the Future Internet Marketplace

Rather than trying to follow the trends of the internet, which are changing on a consistent basis, it’s more important to focus on the principles which drive those trends. The most important of these principles is human behavior. Buying is a behavior and is driven by the same fundamentals of human nature which it has always been…thousands of years before the internet was invented. People buy things that they believe to be valuable, and they give their attention to information which they believe is valuable.

No matter what Google or Facebook ever does, the value will always drive people’s buying decisions. How do people determine the value of information and the value of a product or service?

#1: Popularity = Value

This is also known as “social proof,” the amount of peer approval that your product or service has. Gathering testimonials needs to be a consistent practice for your business and you need to have an incentive for customers to send you testimonials and you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. People are busy and many times even when they like a product they won’t take the time to write up a testimonial and email it to your company.

This is why you have to be the one to take the initiative to generate as many specific testimonials as possible. For best results, create an incentive to send testimonials (a free gift or a discount on future purchases) and a few standard questions to ask the customer to make sure the testimonial addresses the important points of your product or service.

#2 Relevance = Value

The more relevant your offer is, the more valuable it will appear to your customers. In other words, what can you do to tailor your marketing and copywriting to where your demographic will know it’s for them and them only? Find out what your customers are interested in, what other types of product s or services they use, what their hobbies are, anything that will make your marketing messages more relevant to them.

This might require spending some time in forums that are specific to your industry, but the time spent will be worth it. Perhaps most importantly, get a Facebook fan page and start marketing it to your target customers as soon as possible.

#3: Uniqueness = Value

You need a way to stand out in your industry, a specific and memorable brand…something which makes your company and your product or service unique. Without this, you run the risk of being made obsolete by any company willing to offer a lower price or a more unique product or service. For more information on how to use uniqueness to increase the value of your company, see our article on brand creation and USP strategies.

Stay Educated About SEO and Internet Marketing

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Additional Reading On Social Media Marketing

 How to Use Facebook to Build Your Subscriber List and Company Brand

 Social Media Marketing vs. SEO: Which Will be More Important?

 Promoting Your Site in a Web 2.0 World