Facebook page likes are an important factor in the SEO ranking of your fan page, but not the most important.
How important are Facebook page likes for ranking your fan page on the first page of a Google search? They are definitely an important ranking factor, although other things are more important.
All of the same search engine optimization techniques that apply to any other sort of web page apply to your Facebook page, so you need to pick a title you can compete for, make quality, relevant back links from other sites, have quality keyword content on the page, and then you may have a chance of competing on Google.
Getting some likes just increases the link juice flowing to your page, although links from random people's profile pages are not relevant. You are better off having a link to your page on a high page rank page in your niche.
Links within Facebook are do follow, and links leading out of Facebook are no follow, but both have a role to play in ranking and page, and it is important to use both when making back links from other sites, to appear natural to Google.
When Do Facebook Page Likes Come Into It?
Facebook fans are good for many reasons, for example, you can send a message to all of the people who like your page, or your posts to the page will appear in their news feed.
In terms of SEO, it does play a role, but let's look at how you rank a Facebook page step by step, from the beginning.
First, do a little keyword research, even if it's just checking the first page of Google for that title, although I would suggest you also do an exact match search on the Google keyword tool, to see the search volume for your chosen phrase.
Maybe check the page rank and back links of the sites you will be competing against, but if it's a low competition search, then you should be able to get there easily enough, if you continue doing the right things.
Put some relevant links and content on your page, in the info section, in the photo descriptions, and on the wall, you want the keywords in your title to be about 3% of the text, and you want a lot of text, updated regularly if possible.
Make back links from as many places as you can, both within Facebook, (such as by commenting or posting on relevant pages), and outside of Facebook.
You can use article directories and web 2.0 sites like HubPages, Squidoo, Blogger, Ezine, Typepad, Go Articles, Triond, Associated Content, and so on, just keep at it, writing long, high quality original relevant articles until you are on the first page of Google.
You may want to join forums like the Warrior Forum, Digitalpoint, Geekpoint, etc, and do social bookmarking on Digg, Delicious, Linked In, Google Buzz, and more.
It takes a while to do SEO for a competitive search, but if you picked an easy keyword phrase, you may be there in a few days, without doing all of that.
Facebook page likes can help a lot with SEO, once you have done all of the other things you need to do to rank on Google, and also they allow you to communicate with your potential customers.
It's quite easy to buy Facebook page likes, and there are many social media marketing services that can get you targeted likes for about five cents each, such as my site, Professional Social Promotion, which has been doing business successfully with thousands of satisfied customers for many years now.