Facebook Reducing Low Quality Links

Facebook Rolling Out  NewsFeed Update

Facebook is in the process of rolling out an update to its NewsFeed algorithm which will aim to reduce the number of links to low quality webpages in its users’ NewsFeeds. This has launched and should be affecting publishers as of now.

#Facebook #SocialMediaStrategy #NewsFeed #ClickBait #WebSpam


Facebook Starts to Suppress Links to Low Quality Webpages

Summary:

  • As a result of listening to its community, Facebook has started a roll out of a NewsFeed algorithm update targeting  links to low quality web pages. This roll-out is likely to take a while and is also likely to be iterative.
  • This will reduce the number of times content like this is seen in a NewsFeed, while increasing views for better quality posts.
  • Links to low quality web pages includes those in ads, as well as organic posts.
  • Low quality pages may appear lower in the NewsFeed, or not be eligible to become an ad.
  • Low quality is an amorphous concept – the definition used includes “little substantive content” and “covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads”.
  • Facebook does not give further definitions of the adjectives it uses to describe the web pages, such as “little”, “substantive”, or “covered”.
  • It likely this is on a per link / per page basis, rather than a blanket suppression on a publisher basis – although there will be other algorithms which suppress an entire publisher’s output.

Actions to take:

  1. Monitor the reach, engagement and monetisation levels of your posts and ads.
    1. If your numbers go up, it is possible your content is now replacing the low quality ones.
    2. Should your numbers go down, then it’s possible your content is being suppressed due to quality issues.
  2. If your numbers have gone down and you want to maintain the level of exposure, you will need to work to improve the quality of the links being promoted. As there are no hard numbers, this will need to be an iterative process.
    1. Provide substantive content. This is likely to mean “add more content per page”, or in some cases, actually have some content.
    2. Reduce the coverage of ads per page. This will be similar to Google’s view of ads Above the Fold and ads which are effectively interstitials, especially on mobile.
    3. Quality of ads is a harder subject. You may take ads as part of a network, and may have turned down the quality dial for the $$$ benefits, in which case you will need to work to remove these kinds of ads from being displayed on your pages, if the referrer is from Facebook.
    4. If taking direct ads, and being impacted, you will need to either remove those ads from rotation / campaigns, or remove them from being seen by Facebook referrers.
  3. Create good quality, well-researched content which users are likely to engage deeply with by liking and sharing. This will dramatically build your organic reach, giving content longevity and driving clicks deeper into your content.

Discussion:

It’s nice to know that Facebook listens at times, however it’s a little dispiriting for a company which “moves fast and breaks things” that it takes a long while for the listening to take place. If they truly advocated listening, I have a small list, I’d like to talk to them about.

Clickbait, webspam and other horror web pages have been prevalent on Facebook for a few years now, ever since pay per impression programmatic advertising became the norm. The object for publishers suddenly became overly weighted towards generating page views, so click-generation and content-splitting become the norm. This led to poor outcomes for users

Unsurprisingly, users are not keen on clicking a link to discover that the “30 funniest cat photos EVER” is more likely an ad-infested swamp of recycled, if any, content, often covered by really low quality ads, or even worse covered by pop-ups / interstitials. The point of “good” clickbait is that it actually delivers on the promise in its link titles – funnily enough that’s what the most successful followers of this content strategy manage to do. People click for more, engage more and share more.

In the early 2000s most major web browsers in response to the horrors of pop-ups, pop-overs and pop-unders implemented JavaScript blocking, which is still in effect today. The advent of HTML5 has led us back to a situation where we are bombarded by ads which cover, or obscure content. They could do the same again – especially with auto-play videos and ads with sound. Facebook obviously isn’t its own browser (although, you wonder if that’s ever a possibility), but it too has the power (like Google) to shape the market by suppressing really poor content. It should do more.

Having said all that, I’m now off to re-title this article “19 ways to BEAT Facebook’s low quality algorithm”….

More info:

Return to Top