News for Authors

Facebook’s Smarter Search

by Sonia Nash Gupta|April, 2013

In January, Facebook launched their new Graph Search experience, which works with information users themselves have put on Facebook to create more tailored and personal search results. We look at the impact on Facebook users and how to adapt your Page to take advantage of this new functionality.

What Is Graph Search?

Open Graph is Facebook’s algorithm that looks at the relationships between people on Facebook and also the information they share, such as photos, posts, events, and Pages. The idea behind Graph Search is that by using this information, Facebook will create a set of search results that are unique for each user, based on their relationships and content that has been shared with them.

With Graph Search, search results’ rankings will be determined by the strength of their connections to the user, rather than their popularity overall. For example, if a user searches for bookstores in a particular city, those that are most popular with his/her closest friends will be displayed first. Additionally, results that are similar to a searcher’s existing likes and interests should be ranked higher.

This means that Graph Search is particularly useful for categories or simple phrases, not just names. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has described the initial focus as “people, photos, places, and interests.” Good searches might include “bookstores near San Francisco,” “books on cooking,” “titles about [name your topic],” or “books my friends like.”

One key difference between this search tool and search engines such as Google is that Facebook aims to provide an answer from within Facebook itself, rather than sending users to another site via a link.

It is worth noting that Graph Search is still in early testing mode and only available globally to U.S. English Facebook users. It is also not currently available on mobile. If you are interested, you can sign up for the wait list to join the beta here.


What Might Graph Search Mean for You?

The good news about Graph Search is that it should ultimately make your content more easily findable, attracting new viewers and fans. This should reward those with richer Facebook content and stronger connections with others on the social media platform. Since individual pieces of content on your page will be searchable, users and fans will be able to get more quickly to the things that specifically interest them (likely photos and videos).

This is a great opportunity to ensure your Page is fresh and robust. Tagging and describing content clearly and effectively will become more important than ever. Here’s our suggested plan of action:

  • Create a Page if you have not already done so.
  • Upload a profile photo with a minimum pixel resolution of 620×620.
  • Make sure your page name, category, vanity URL, and information you share in the “About” section are all up to date.
  • Share content directly on Facebook rather than through links; only photos and videos shared on your Page can appear in results for photo and video-related searches.
  • Add locations to your photos and videos, and tag relevant people or places so your content will appear when users are searching for these.
    • For example, if you have photos from a book event, be sure to tag your publishing division, the bookstore, and the city and state, along with the date of the event.
    • Strengthen your Page’s connections; it’s not just the number of fans but also the strength of those connections that is important. So, take a moment to make sure you are connected with:
      • Your publisher
      • Author friends
      • Interests such as books, movies, TV shows, and/or other brands
      • Causes or organizations that your books may correlate with

As well as making your Page more open, if you also have a personal Profile on Facebook for friends and family, this may be a good time to tighten up your privacy settings or remove/untag content that may be inadvertently exposed by searches.

At this moment, Graph Search has no special advertising capabilities and there are no ads in the search results page. As in the existing search bar, Sponsored Results are still available—and will work whether or not a user has Graph Search.

If you want to read more about Facebook Graph Search, here some good articles:


Sonia Nash Gupta is a Senior Producer in the Random House Children’s Books Division.