Facebook Tests Show SEO May Be Possible With Open Graph

While Facebook has never been known for their powerful search functionality, the Open Graph may quickly be changing all of that. Thanks to integration with Facebook’s new Open Graph protocol, sites like TripAdvisor.com are now showing up in Facebook’s search results, with links back to their website, something Facebook previously never offered. We’ve been able to surface similar results, and our conclusion is that this could help Facebook expand their competition against Google.

Right now Facebook’s Open Graph has a relatively extensive list of types of objects that can be indexed. As described on the Open Graph protocol site, there are numerous objects that are broken down into the following categories: activities, businesses, groups, organizations, people, places, products and entertainment, and websites. Within each category is a number of specific object types.

In order to drive website administrators to adopt this open graph, Facebook will begin surfacing these objects within Facebook’s search results. Any publisher would love to show up in such results which is why this dynamic is so powerful. As Mark Zuckerberg has emphasized on numerous occasions, the future of Facebook is not on the site itself. Such a shift will not take place overnight however.

Right now, media companies appear to be the quickest to adopt Facebook’s new Open Graph standards, as online publications thrive on referral traffic. While we haven’t been able to find many examples of external objects showing up within search results, the screenshot below makes it pretty obvious what the future holds.

Annapolis Marriot Search Screenshot

This also supports our argument that the like action is rapidly replacing the link. As Facebook focuses on reducing the friction on both the publisher end, as well as the users end for interacting with “Likes” around the web, the company is effectively creating the most structured search system on the internet. While the company invites others, like Google, to adopt the standard, Facebook is the only one who’s tracking the likes of each of those objects.

One strange aspect of the example posted below (which we’ve been able to duplicate), is that there is no Open Graph meta-tags included in the source code of the TripAdvisor page. We reached out to Facebook last night for clarification but haven’t heard back yet. We’ll be sure to update if we do. According to Brian Bagel of TIG Global, who tipped us off about this functionality, Yelp and a few other sites are also occasionally showing up in results.

Whatever the reason this information is being displayed, the possibility of SEO from Facebook in addition to traffic from sharing illustrates how Facebook could soon be competing with Google as publishers race to have their content indexed by the company.

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