Facebook Places vs Google Places, who will win the local search battle?
Out of websites on the internet, Facebook is the number 2 site, outpacing Yahoo for the prized spot behind Google. Facebook just recently announced a new feature, one we all knew was coming, called Facebook Places, something Facebook hopes can take a social media shot at Google’s Places, (aka: maps, formerly called Local Business Listings. Not to be confused with Google Earth.) Facebook has already planned to compete with Wikipedia on the meaning of words and information on branded terms.
A few years ago local directories owned most of the local search share, mostly do to strong SEO and traffic from traditional print users shifting to digital and remaining loyal to the telephone companies who sent phone books to their homes. Then Google and other search engines started displaying map results, the internet yellow page companies fought back by offering maps, which was an obvious move considering that most folks wanted to find the products and service providers nearest them. Yet slowly the web traffic monopolies shifted away from the yellow pages publishers. No longer do you see phone book results from just sites like YellowPages.com, Switchboard.com, SuperPages.com, or Local.com at the top organic (natural) results of major search engines.
That bring us to Today. The biggest change in local search since Google Maps. Facebook is incorporating check-ins like FourSquare and Gowalla, likely going to include group buying like Groupon, and with ownership of the ratings and review space….
Side note: The trouble with ratings and reviews has always been authenticity and trust. Do we trust reviews. How can we influence positive real and authoritative reviews? Facebook’s “Like” button fixes the trust issue. I believe Facebook will OWN reviews. It will also continue to own the social space. Many sites and brands have more traffic to Facebook fan pages than to their actual websites.
Facebook is set to dominate local search. Will it be a monopoly like the Bell Yellow Pages of yesteryear? Most likely. How do businesses prepare?
-Take a tour of Facebook
-Claim your Facebook (and Google) Place
-Start a blog about your product or service
-Meet with a local search expert and social media marketing consultant.
-Optimize your existing Facebook business profile before the conversion to Facebook Places
-Share your Facebook favorites (your business page) as a suggestion to friends and family. When you get 25 likes you can add a custom url to your page.
- and last, but certainly not least, start interacting with the community
Facebook will be the new yellowpages, just wait and see.