How difficult is it to change the search habits of users?

Search engine marketers and SEO companies alike have been abuzz with the recent launch of Facebook Graph Search and what this latest development could mean for the future of search engine marketing and SEO.

One side of this debate considers the impact of how Facebook Graph levers off more than a billion Facebook users and how it opens up different optimisation possibilities.

The other side delves into whether Facebook Graph will present serious competition to Google and how it relates to user behaviour.

For Facebook Graph to present a serious challenge to Google, it will have to test already strongly established user behaviour and how the average person searches for information online.

Using Google for search has become an established norm in the mind of both Technorati and Techophobes. For Facebook Search to succeed it will have to reset deeply ingrained search behaviour patterns and brand loyalty. Essentially Facebook Graph will have to disrupt established user behaviour which has partly been responsible for Google’s staying power.

The strength of a habit, as anyone who has tried to stop smoking or lose weight can attest too lies in the effect of two interrelated variables: utility and frequency. Separately, these variables carry value independently, but when combined they reinforce each other.

Google has maximised on this and has reinforced user behaviour by being valuable to users and by being perceived as consistently adding value. Thus it has become a deeply ingrained habit and has become synonymous with search.

This said, for Facebook Graph to gain traction it will have to compete for consumer mind share by leveraging off its usability and encourage greater frequency of use. Not an easy task by any means.

Whatever the outcome, SEO companies will be well advised to pay careful attention to Facebook Graph and its potential impact on SEO and search engine marketing.

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