Facebook Local Business Directory
Facebook rolled out a new local business directory this week that allows Facebook users to connect with local businesses in their area. Ironically enough, when news broke about this new feature, Yelp shares plummeted 8%, and ended the day (Dec. 15th) down -9%, and ended the week down -8.36%.
Facebook did not make any official announcements on their new local business directory. However, it is clear they see a huge opportunity in leveraging Facebook business pages as a way to connect Facebook users to nearby local businesses.
With over 1.5 billion monthly Facebook users (as of September 2015) worldwide, and nearly 1 billion users daily accessing Facebook via mobile devices, I see a new frontier emerging in the way local businesses can connect to new customers.
When you go the new Facebook business directory, you will see the homepage for your city based on your location.
Since I’m located in Athens, Georgia, I see the homepage for local Athens businesses.
Here’s a screenshot:
In order to explore different cities, you’ll have to go up to the search bar and type in your city of choice.
Facebook Local SEO
As you can see, your local business gets found in the Facebook directory through the use of your Facebook business page.
And according to the message above the search bar, Facebook is ranking the local business pages based on “the best Facebook reviews and ratings.”
I did a quick search to see if the rankings were being sorted objectively solely on the number of ratings and star level of the reviews, but this appears to not be the case.
Here’s a screenshot of the homepage for dentists in Orlando, Florida:
As you can see, Baptiste Orthodontics has a 5 star rating based on 40 reviews.
However, Orlando Urgent Dental Inc. has a 4.7 star rating based 50 reviews.
And then looking down at the third search result, Lee Vista Dental has a 4.6 star rating based on 24 reviews.
Looking at the top 3 search results, there is definitely a correlation between the volume of reviews and star ratings from those reviews.
But looking down at the #5 search result for dentists in Orlando, Florida, you have Marris Orthodontics with a 4.9 star rating on 47 reviews. See screenshot below:
So what drives Marris Orthodontics down to #5?
My only guess at this point is the title of their business page is missing the word “dentist”…? aside from other factors mentioned below.
The other interesting point to make about the search results in Facebook’s directory is, in most cases, I only find 10 Facebook pages listed by default.
Again, take a look at the front page for dentists in Orlando, Florida, and then scroll down to the bottom.
On my screen at least, I only see the option to view 10 Facebook pages – meaning, there is no right arrow to click thru to see more listings.
But there are certainly more than 10 dentists in Orlando with Facebook business pages.
More than likely, there are hundreds, if not thousands!
I suppose this is Facebook’s way to narrowing your scope of options, at least for now, to only 10 businesses.
However, looking at several other categories, I see some cases where there is the option to click thru beyond the first page of results.
And then you have anomalies in the Facebook local search results like this:
Lake Nona Dental has a 4.9 rating based on 40 reviews.
Yet they are out on page 3 of the Facebook local search results.
My initial thought is because they aren’t very active, relatively speaking, to the top ranked Facebook pages.
Looking at Lake Nona’s Facebook page, you’ll see they’ve only created 3 posts in the month of December.
Yet on the first ranked Facebook page, Orlando Urgent Dental Care, you’ll see 17 posts to date in the month of December – clearly a much more active Facebook page vs. those found on page 3.
Also interesting with Orlando Urgent Dental Care, is they are the only officially verified Facebook page.
Notice the checkmark next to their Facebook business name:
Since they are the #1 ranked Facebook page in the local directory, perhaps the verification of their business page carries more weight than everything else…?
The Opportunity with Facebook Local SEO
All of this, I believe, points to a new opportunity for local businesses!
Through the use of your Facebook business page, you now have the opportunity to connect to new customers who are located directly in your market, and who are interested in your products and services.
And based on the fast growing user base in Facebook, and the viral impact of people interacting with your Facebook business page, this points to a new frontier in local SEO.