19 December, 2012

What to Know About Facebook's New Local Search

Local search capabilities throughout social networks started out small but have gained more and more attention throughout the year. With the growing popularity of mobile utilization in many markets, there is a new emphasis on keeping local search even more widespread as we go into 2013.

In fact, Facebook just updated both their iOS and Android apps to improve on the “Nearby” feature that many have already become familiar with. The update just happened this week, and it is now allowing users to look into businesses that are close by based on a number of different factors. Users have long been used to being able to see who has been checking in among their friends, but there has never been quite an elaborate level of suggestion making. 

According to Search Engine Land, the metrics that these recommendations run off sound be crowd-sourced. Combining factors such as check-ins, ratings, Likes and others will determine what recommendations the user sees.

Based on some screenshots of the iOS update, users should have access to many subsets of local services. Users can look for nearby coffee shops, bars, arts-related venues, shopping and more. Each of these categories break off into more specific subjects. Businesses that are looked up will come with a profile that highlights how many of the users friends have been there, including a brief synopsis of their experience. An overall rating of the location can also be seen. 

If you are a business owner and weren't quite up to the times to create a Facebook page, then you're going to be out of luck with showing up “Nearby”. That doesn't mean that it is too late either though – simply get a page created with clear information that indicates your type of business, as well as any other type of contact information that you can supply. 

Changing the Game in Local Search

Some might think that Facebook is a little too late in the game of joining local search, especially with other social networks like Yelp and Foursquare already taking the lead. However, Tech Crunch reported today that Yelp's stock has already taken a little dive with the news of Facebook's mobile updates. 

This is a pretty significant occurrence being that the update hasn't even been made completely available just yet. There's no saying just how well-protected Facebook's program could be against spam. However, those who use Yelp and others know that it is pretty dependable. Seeing where your own friends go and recommend on Facebook could be a big winning ticket for Facebook, and others have pointed this out as well.

Having this sort of more relatable connection could be a big driver for Facebook Nearby, especially given the natural tendency to float towards Facebook in the first place. 

As stated, the update should be made available this week on both Android and iOS.


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