Facebook has begun passing keyword data to websites that receive referral traffic from search queries that originate on the social network, allowing sites to more accurately track where visitors are coming from.
With the launch of Graph Search, Facebook more deeply incorporated Bing so that queries that can’t be answered by Facebook’s internal search, will direct users to a page of results powered by Bing. This could lead more users to conduct searches through Facebook that end up on third-party sites. However, previously, there was no way for someone to tell whether a visitor from Facebook came via search or a shared link somewhere on the site.
G-Squared Interactive’s Glenn Gabe says the social network recently changed this and started including keyword strings along with the referrer of a URL.
Typically analytics providers classify search engines differently from other sites and they allow people to see the keywords that users searched for to find a site. For now, platforms like Google Analytics don’t recognize Facebook as a search engine so users will have to do some manual configuration to be able to see and track their Graph Search traffic and keywords. Gabe describes how to do this here.
Graph Search is in limited beta among a small percentage of English-speaking users on desktop. The number of referrals to any given site is likely to be very small right now, but it would be valuable for any publisher to understand how people are using Graph Search to find their site, especially as the product evolves and usage increases.
URL image via G-Squared Interactive.