Facebook has been established for some time now as a great platform to promote your local business as part of your local SEO marketing. Pages allow you to add plenty of relevant details so your customers can see how close you are, when you’re open for business and how to get in touch, among other things. Facebook generally likes to point out all its fancy features to you as you set up your page, and pops up with frequent messages to make sure you’re not missing anything.
This makes it rather strange that it’s keeping a significant recent development fairly quiet. With no announcement at all, Facebook Professional Services was launched a few months ago for desktop users only, although we expect a mobile version is in the works. A Facebook representative recently confirmed the features in “the early stages” of development, so it may well change soon before it becomes a major selling point.
It is effectively a local business directory with a basic built-in search engine which returns results in your local area when you’re looking for a particular service. Your search query is limited to a pre-defined list of business categories, which correspond to the categories you must select from when you set up a business page. When you choose a service to search for you’ll see a summary of each business in your area, plus snippets of reviews and other key information.
Interestingly, the way Facebook has chosen to rank different business in the results is highly personalised and takes multiple factors into account – even SEO within Facebook is getting complicated! Your average star rating from your reviews is a major factor, but it also looks at your personal connections and is more likely to show you places your friends have visited or reviewed. Although we can’t be sure, it’s safe to say your personal interests and any history of your own interaction with the page are taken into account too.
So what’s the big deal if this feature isn’t widely known about? Well, it serves as another indication that Facebook wants to assert itself as a major player for local business listings, taking on competitors such as Yell and Thomson Local. Once they figure out a way to streamline the delivery of this service across different devices, and coordinate it properly with their local map features, we anticipate Facebook business pages are going to become an even better way of getting yourself seen by new local customers.