If you promote your website on Facebook, perhaps you’ve noticed some changes in the last few weeks. Or maybe you read about it online. Facebook changed its algorithm; messages of businesses and news outlets will become less important. In this post, I want to explain the consequences of the changes in Facebook’s algorithm. On top of that, I want to propose some strategies to cope with these changes and perhaps a sudden drop in traffic. My favorite strategy? Invest heavily in SEO.
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The Facebook algorithm changed? Why?
Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes on January 11th of this year. He writes:
“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”
Zuckerberg states that Facebook users want to see the content of their friends and families in their news feeds, rather than that of news outlets and the content of brands.
It’s one of the reasons why Facebook is rolling out a big update in which the posts of friends, family and groups become more important and the content of businesses, brands and media will become less important. That would imply that brands, businesses and media will have a harder time reaching their followers. Their posts will have fewer views and less reach.
What do we notice so far?
It’s hard to say precisely to what extent a drop in organic reach for brands and businesses already took place. It seems like a drop in referrals to media-sites did happen. Media sites seem to get more traffic from Google now than from Facebook.
Blog posts from social media experts (e.g., AgoraPulse; Hootsuite) give the impression that a drop in organic Facebook reach is or will also be happening for brands and businesses. That could well be the case. Reading the announcement of Zuckerberg would imply that especially those brands and companies that have little interaction with their audience will be shown less in the news feeds of their followers.
To make matters more complicated, Facebook also changed the way they measure and report organic reach in the newsfeed. That makes it extra hard to assess whether or not the organic reach of your page has changed.
Read more: How to optimize your Facebook reach »
For some websites, this could be a big deal. If you get a lot of traffic from Facebook, this algorithm change could decrease the amount of traffic you’ll be able to attract to your website.
But, to reassure you all: don’t panic. Your business is not the only one that’ll encounter this change. We all have to deal with it.
Some coping strategies
Investing in high-quality and engaging content on Facebook is a good strategy. If your followers reply to your posts and tag their friends, Facebook will probably show your post to many more people. And of course, you can always advertise on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook isn’t that expensive and will allow you to reach your audience, even if your content is not that engaging.
Invest heavily in SEO
In my opinion, the best response to a possible change in the Facebook algorithm is to invest in the SEO of your website. If Facebook is no longer the most important source of traffic to your website, other sources will become (relatively) more important. If people do not see the posts of your business or brand in their news feed, they’ll probably start searching for your products somewhere else. And Google (or another search engine) is the number one candidate for where people will search.
Let me explain how this works by introducing Jane:
Jane is a child psychologist. Her clients come from her local community. She has an active Facebook page. She posts little stories about her clients every day. This Facebook page brought her new clients. People started following Jane; they liked her posts, her tips, and her stories. When their children needed counseling, Jane was the first one to pop into their heads. Her Facebook posts made sure that Jane’s practice was top of mind.
The change in Facebook’s algorithm changes a lot in the way Jane got her clientele. Perhaps her Facebook posts will be shown less to her audience. People are still in need of a child psychologist, though. But if they do not find one in their news feed, what will they do?
When in need of a child psychologist, people start to search for one elsewhere. They could turn to Google and search for ‘Child Psychologist.’ Jane, therefore, needs a kick-ass website with a proper SEO strategy to outrank her competitors.
If businesses and brands get less attention in the news feeds of their users, traffic from Facebook to their websites will decrease, just as it did with the news. Google could become (relatively) more important.
I think it’s a bit too early to understand the changes in the Facebook algorithm fully. We’ll need some time to do some proper testing and research. I do think businesses and brands will get less attention in the news feeds. I just don’t know how significant the changes will be. It’s frustrating too. The only thing you CAN do is to make sure your website is awesome. Invest time in writing excellent content and create things people want to come to your website for. While doing that, don’t forget to make sure people can find you in the search engines. Time to set up that impressive new SEO strategy!
Keep reading: Social media for small business owners »