Local Search Marketing Competition Heats Up, Facebook Nearby Expands
Facebook has been offering its “Nearby” check-in feature on its social network for quite some time now, allowing anyone to check into businesses and let their friends know where they are. That was essentially the extent of it – severely lacking any sort of true search or rating system which sent users running to other local search providers to find local businesses.
Facebook rolled out this week an upgrade to the “Nearby” feature and has Yelp, Foursquare and Google+ Local in its crosshairs. The app will still show you where your friends are, but now it’ll rank nearby businesses and other places as it becomes a mobile local search tool. Your own network will dictate how businesses will be ranked, and if your friends aren’t of the “checking in” type, then Facebook will look outside of your immediate network to provide the most relevant rankings.
For business owners, this is exciting news. Facebook is gathering its data from within its own social network, so you must have an optimized business Facebook Page in order to show up in the local search rankings. If you don’t have a presence on Facebook, you won’t be found – it’s that simple. If you don’t already have a Facebook Page, it’s time to finally pull the trigger and if you do, you must ensure all of your information is up to date including your address, store hours, phone numbers and categories.
This new feature is only available on mobile devices and is only allowing people who have checked-in to businesses to leave ratings and reviews, which will hopefully keep spam and fake reviews at bay.