Early this month, Facebook announced they are rebuilding their search functionality within the social network and have dubbed it Graph Search. Graph Search will allow, upon its debut, for users to search for information that has been shared with them via friends that they are connected in ways never before possible. While an official launch date for Graph Search hasn’t been made public yet, The Advance Search & Social Group has prepared an in depth document on what to expect upon its launch.

While Graph Search hasn’t been made public yet, one thing we already know is that at first it will not be indexing Facebook posts or using Open Graph information supplied by external websites and apps on their content to facilitate in providing search results. John Battelle states on his blog that:

The initial beta “indexes” four main types of these entities: People, Photos, Places, and Interests. Over time, I am told, Facebook will expand its index to include all Facebook posts and even the Open Graph.

So while Open Graph will not be incorporated into the initial launch, it will most likely become a major element down the road, and webmasters would be wise to begin updating their websites to incorporate open.

But what is Open Graph, and how will it potentially affect content visibility in the future? Open Graph metadata allows for websites to provide specific rich data to social media networks to better allow that content (whether it be content links, photos, videos etc) to be published and represented on that social network. Facebook is one of the networks which has fully embraces Open Graph (or OG) markup language, and even has a developer page available to walkthrough set up.

Open Graph protocol features a wide array of available OG meta tags to apply to each web site page to best suit the content optimization for that page. For instance, article / text based content can include headlines, description, author name, image thumbnail while photos in galleries and videos have specific unique tags that can be applied to describe image/video dimensions and image/video file type. This is a sample of how Open Graph tags might look on a web page:

<meta property=”og:title” content=”Optimized Article Headline” />
<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”example.com” />
<meta property=”og:url” content=”http://www.example.com/2013/01/article-headline” />
<meta property=”og:type” content=”article” />
<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://media.example.com/photo/thumbnail-small.jpg” />

Once these tags are applied to a page and it is shared, the OG meta tags will inform Facebook which image to use and how the description should read in the shared link once it is posted on the user’s profile page.

These tags give the content owners the opportunity to control both the message and the keyword targeting within the shared content. Like any other search platform, keyword targeting will become the basis for optimization and inclusion in the search results. So far, Open Graph data appears to be the only way to control the targeting of shared content.

As Graph Search begins allowing for more intricate searches of shared content, it will be vital for web sites to understand how Open Graph meta tags are currently being used or if they need to be implemented from scratch on the site, and procedures on how to create and optimize this data within an organization should be examined as well. Start adopting all available and relevant Open Graph tags for your web site now to be prepared for its inclusion in Graph Search down the road.