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Facebook’s Local Search Site Is “Early Test,” Company Doesn’t Seem Ready To Promote It
Company doesn't see local search site as an entry point for consumers.
Facebook says its Professional Services local search site is an “early test” and, after speaking with the company, it seems they’re not like to to give it much promotion — at least not now.
Facebook told me that the site has been live for “about a month,” but there have been no blog posts or announcements. Facebook also confirmed to me that there’s no integration of this content into its mobile app. Users can, however, access a less robust version of the site via mobile web.
While I could search any geography and business category on the desktop, I had trouble getting it to work for other than my current location on mobile web. Below is an example search for “hotels, Des Moines, IA” (I’m in California).
There appears to be limited integration of Facebook Local Search with its main search box (but not up front). Indeed, users cannot get the same results by typing “plumbers, Des Moines” into the main search field at the top of the page.
What may be most interesting about the site is that Facebook doesn’t envision Facebook.com/services (or Search) as the entry point — at least for now. The company expects that users will browse or click category links contained on individual business profile pages. In the example below, the “plumber” category link leads to the SERP (search engine results page) on the right.
The site is international. I can search for hotels or plumbers in New Zealand or London or New York. The results are mixed in terms of depth and content. But growth in local search usage will encourage more businesses to claim and enhance their Pages.
How Committed Is Facebook To Local Search/Business Discovery?
Yelp and TripAdvisor have nothing to worry about from the current incarnation of this. The question is: How committed to local search/local business discovery is Facebook, and what’s the roadmap for this product?
Another question is whether and how Facebook might promote this capability. I believe it’s extremely important for Facebook to be a player in local business search for the company to realize its ambition of converting more of its 50 million business Page owners into advertisers.
I’m reading between the lines, but it didn’t sound as if Facebook was going to make a major push — at least not right now — to promote local search on Facebook to end users. It seems that it’s going to let people discover it themselves.
If that is indeed what the company is intending to do, and either not integrate this feature into its existing app or create a new “Places” app, it may not get significant adoption — which would be a huge missed opportunity for the company.