More than a third of external referrals to Facebook pages come from search engines, and SEO plays a strong role in generating this additional traffic for a Facebook page, according to a study from PageLever.
The PageLever Study
The study was conducted by Jeff Widman at PageLever. He used the Facebook API to get raw data on external traffic referrals and used PageLever to organize the data and separate the search engine referrals. Widman looked at 1,000 pages with a minimum of 10,000 fans each from January 1 to June 30 of this year. His figures represent the averages for that time period.
Widman found that 33.98 percent of traffic came from Google, Yahoo, or Bing. It should be noted, however, that this is 33.98 percent of external referrals – meaning that the search referrals comprise about 9.5 percent of total traffic to Facebook pages.
That number is still surprisingly high, and it's also a bit strange what a high percentage comes from Google. Google was the source of 27.57 percent of external referrals, compared to 4.11 percent from Yahoo and 2.3 percent from Bing. As Widman notes, "since Bing has a offical partnership with Facebook, I would have expected the disparity between [Google and Bing] to be lower."
While the PageLever study wasn't aimed at experimenting with SEO for Facebook pages, it does note data trends that indicate optimization is a vital factor in the volume of external referrals and the total number of pageviews.
"Optimizing for SEO really paid off for several of these Fan Pages," states Widman, pointing to the large variance between pages and specific pages that received a really substantial portion of their traffic from search sites.
Presumably, Facebook page SEO involved the same core factors as standard page SEO, including the creation of frequent quality content that's visible to search, building inbound links, and avoiding common pitfalls such as duplicate content.