As Facebook's algorithm changes SEO becomes crucial

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.

If you want to learn more about using social media and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-Around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it’ll help you put these skills into practice!

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 »

What’s next?

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 »

Coming up next!

19 Responses to As Facebook’s algorithm changes SEO becomes crucial

  1. Neil
    Neil  • 6 years ago


    Good post. An interesting ready. I try to advertise in many form because you cant always rely on Facebook

  2. Danny O'Neill
    Danny O'Neill  • 6 years ago

    As a business owner it’s things like this which remind us that you can never rely on one source.

    If your sole income is from people finding you via Facebook or Google then it just takes them making a change like this. Or worse yet the Google gods decide to make one of their mystery updates which suddenly flings you back to page 2 in the SERPS and you don’t know why. You’ve worshipped them, done all that they command and sacrificed a dozen goats all in their name and yet you are put on the naughty step.

    They make changes to improve the results but often it harms people like us who have no idea what they’ve done wrong.

  3. Gracious Store
    Gracious Store  • 6 years ago

    It is important that Facebook gets back to what it was originally meant for

  4. Charles Davis
    Charles Davis  • 6 years ago

    You have some great points in your article. I would add the businesses could build groups with their target adudiences. Zuchenberg mentioned that groups were not effected. Also, SEO is always a big positive, however many sites are not structurally correct which causes them to leak SEO juice.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 6 years ago

      Hi Charles, Nice addition. Thanks!

  5. Hi Tehran Hostel
    Hi Tehran Hostel  • 6 years ago

    As a facebook user not a SEO expert, I think this is very good change in Facebook feeds, I myself was tired of posts on my timeline produced by different pages. All in all, I think this change will force page admin to produce more valuable contents.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 6 years ago

      Agreed. It probably will!

  6. Peter
    Peter  • 6 years ago

    Thanks Marieke, I think I heard you talk briefly on this subject on Yoastcon. SEO is also imho the way to go!

  7. Adams
    Adams  • 6 years ago

    Honestly, I am a bit disappointed about that change. So frustrating for brands and business owners. I totally agree with you Marieke. At the moment, the only way out is to invest more in site optimization.

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      I was annoyed as well… we put so much effort in our Facebook-page. We notice a difference in reach but not so much in traffic from Facebook. I’ll post a blogpost next week containing some other strategies you could use in order to make up for this Facebook-update.

  8. Sanirys Zurlent
    Sanirys Zurlent  • 6 years ago

    Insightful perspective and agree, but what about the fact that even Google is pushing Organic “aside” for more Open Graph on- SERPs based content delivery where a visitor doesn’t even have to go to the website? i.e., a restaurant menu on results (tabs and all as in Wolfgag Puck Express) vs click through to the site.

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      That’s a whole other area in which search is changing. And I agree, that’s important too. I think all these changes really force us to keep up on our reading. We’ll do our best to keep you posted here on Yoast.

  9. Mitch Rezman
    Mitch Rezman  • 6 years ago

    We have 268,000 fans and in april and may 2014 ranked us #3 for engagement in the ecom cat reaching 3M people organically weekly on Facebook.

    Today 30,000 reach is good.

    we no longer pay for any ads only email. We’re vested heavily in content creation and making an even bigger push into video creating at least 3 new vids weekly

    using a brand focus you can see the impact – google the term “goldenfeast” which is a brand of bird food we sell

    we occupy #3 SERP outranking amazon the page 1 but click on Videos and we have 6 of the 10 slots on the 1st video page and 4 of 10 on page 2

    that;s because I’ve been doing my YT SEO wrong which I’ll be changing starting today
    can you say eye opener?

    • Marieke van de Rakt

      Thanks for sharing your story. Youtube search is surely important, we are noticing that too. My eleven-year-old son doesn’t even use Google anymore. He goes straight to Youtube if he’s in need of information.

  10. Sonia
    Sonia  • 6 years ago

    Thank you for the post. As I always say to my customers you should never rely on a specific traffic source for your website. Always put your eggs in different baskets and invest specially on SEO on your website. At the end of the day your website is the platform you can control, whatever Facebook, Instagram etc decides to do is beyond your control…

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 6 years ago

      Hi Sonia, putting your eggs in different baskets is never a bad advice, thanks for the addition!

  11. Freddy G. Cabrera
    Freddy G. Cabrera  • 6 years ago

    Hey Marieke!

    I don’t rely on Facebook for traffic and never did. So, this new update is not going to affect my traffic, at all. The only purpose I have with Facebook is to connect with my blog’s audience on a more personal level, that’s it.

    Search engines will always be my number one way for organic traffic, hands down! ;)

    But it is good to be aware of what is really going on with such social media platforms.

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Have a wonderful weekend! :D

  12. crmnigeria
    crmnigeria  • 6 years ago

    As you have rightly said, it is too early to decide. To me, relying on social media alone for traffic suicidal. Thanks for posting.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 6 years ago

      You’re welcome!