Most of us know Google as the head honcho of the online search. So much so, that we’ve just started using the word “Google” as a verb to describe looking something up on the internet. It seems as if nothing and no one could compete with them.

Now, with the Facebook update to their mobile app, local businesses will greatly benefit. Instead of Google Local, potential customers can now use Facebook to locate said businesses, making it easier for them to interact with potential customers.

A Brief History

Facebook has been a reputable directory site for keeping business pages for over the past decade. Before, however, the only people who could really discover your business this way were mutual connections or perhaps with brand awareness.

In 2014, they launched an updated version of their Places directory, changing the game and becoming real competition for Yelp and FourSquare. While they receive over 1.5 billion searches per day, they’re not quite up to par with Google’s 3.5 billion, but that’s still a notable amount.  A huge part of this traffic increase, is due to Facebook’s redesign, allowing pages to work like an actual web page. Rather than being transferred to a different site, you can do it all right there from a mobile Facebook page.

Features

Let’s chat briefly about the features Facebook is offering, which have elevated them to become a serious player in the local search game.

  • Actions: Users can simply tap on a straightforward selection of action buttons, like allowing you to directly book an appointment for a car service, order food right to your door, send a message and much more.
  • Recommendations: This is also an important feature, providing a bit more social proof than a simple “like” would. When a user taps on the recommendation button, a Facebook post will be created on their timeline. That means that instantly, their connections will be able to see this, which could instantly pique their curiosity in your business.
  • Events: This feature has made it much easier to sell events and bring people to your venue with less effort. You have the ability to create the event, and feature it to specific users. You can sell tickets right from the events page, making it more convenient for those interested. If a user clicks “interested” in your event, then their friends and family will instantly see this, as well.
  • Jobs: We predict this will be expanded on in the future, but this tool is excellent from distracting you from viral videos and memes and getting you a potential job.
  • Local: This is perfect for attracting more potential customers from the Facebook app, not only to discover your business, but bring them to your events page. This particular update has had the biggest hit to Google’s local search features.

Pros and Cons of Facebook

First, let’s talk about the downsides. We know that as time goes on, pages are seeing a drastic decline in organic reach. That means that one must get creative with how they’re investing their time and resources on Facebook. Constantly working to combat the decline in organic local reach can seem frustrating.

The list of pros are pretty straightforward. First, you can add in the “nearby” filter into your search, like “restaurants nearby.” This will provide you with a list of relevant business results along with their ratings, location on a map, and which of your friends have visited/liked/provided a review of the page. The inclusion of this “friend data” as previously mentioned, provides great social proof for consumers, boosting the likelihood that a user will go to your business.

From there, you can filter results to be sorted by relevance, popularity, price, and rating, as well as those that are currently open. Keep in mind that the highest-ranking spots are awarded to those with the most active Facebook pages and that have accurate and complete information listed.

Perhaps the biggest advantage Facebook has over Google in this regard, is that people are familiar with using Facebook. Most of us are on the platform daily, and know how it works and where everything is located. In addition, it adds a bit of a human factor in, when you can directly interact with businesses from your personal account.

Should We Forget Google?

Definitely not. As of now, Google still has the vast majority of traffic for local searches, which means it’s still very much relevant. Google won’t be disappearing anytime soon. However, we highly recommend getting your Facebook page in proper shape, because with each update it seems that the platform is slowly taking over the reins. The huge amount of users, combined with the comfortability most have with Facebook makes it a fair competitor, if not the future.

Facebook easily represents Google’s most important competition, and a user-friendly way to find what you’re looking for. While we can’t say you should rule any out at the moment, definitely place focus on both, with the intention of Facebook taking over.

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