Facebook announced a substantial upgrade to its search function on Tuesday called Facebook Graph Search. (An awful name, by the way. Wow.)
It’s not search in the way that we search Google or Bing for info that’s somewhere out there on the web; this is Facebook-centric search for information that’s inside Facebook’s walls. It’s search for content that’s on Facebook, with results weighted based on Facebook signals such as friend connections, likes, check-ins and so forth.
The new search is on a very slow rollout now but I’ve been fortunate to have access to it for the past few hours. So far, I think local search is one of the most compelling and potentially useful aspects of Facebook Graph Search — which is good since active local Pages were up 40 percent in 2012.
Since most folks don’t have access to it yet, I thought I’d share some screenshots of a few different local search types/results below.
Local Graph Search On Facebook
This first one is “restaurants nearby,” which is one of the default search suggestions when you start using Facebook Graph Search.
You can click for the full-size version. I’ve put a couple red arrows on the various filters that define the many ways you can search. I could limit my search to just Italian restaurants … or just restaurants that were “liked” by friends … or just by family members … or restaurants that were visited by a specific friend … or by any friend … etc. … etc. … you get the point.
There are a lot of ways to slice into a local search. It’s very much like the search filters that Foursquare added last year.
Italian restaurants in Seattle that my friends have visited
A much more detailed search here using several filters — restaurant category, location, and that friends have visited. Again, click for the big size.
Hotels near Maui liked by Sheila Beal
Sheila Beal is one of my Facebook friends and runs a fantastic Hawaii travel advice site called GoVisitHawaii.com. My wife and I used it religiously when we were planning the two Maui trips we’ve taken.
This search shows hotels near (on) Maui that Sheila has “liked.” If she likes these places, it’s a guarantee that they’re good.
Built-In Local Search Filters
You can type just about anything you want into the search space at the top of the page to create your search, and then many of the filters show up on the right side of the search results. Here’s what the Place / Restaurant filters look like side-by-side.
Did you notice? Several business/place types aren’t available in the default “Place Type” dropdown — doctors, hospitals, lawyers, golf courses, churches and countless others aren’t there. Those are only available if you search at the top of the page first. Then, after you do, the place type shows up in the dropdown on the right.
Churches is there because I just searched for them. But Facebook doesn’t remember that; if I close the browser window, my next search goes back to just the default list of Place Types.
It’s really tough to cast judgement on something that’s so new and very much a work-in-progress. As Danny Sullivan pointed out on Search Engine Land, this kind of search will work better the more friends you have, connections and Facebook activities you do (i.e., liking Pages, checking-in, etc.). Last year, I cut down my friend list and un-liked a couple dozen Pages … so this kind of search won’t be as valuable to me, perhaps, as it would to another user.
Still, I do think that the local search/recommendation aspect has a chance to offer some real value.
What do you think of it? Comments are open.