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Facebook Updates Its News Feed Algorithm to Display Quality News Content


December 10, 2013 by Ryan Miller

Last week, Facebook made several announcements on how they will be updating users’ news feeds and the kinds of content they will see, especially around news and article related content. This update will have a major impact on news publishers and quality content creators, and makes an abrupt turn against Facebook’s previous approach toward emphasizing memes and photo content over text-focused content.

On December 2nd, Facebook sent out a news update that focused on the main features they will be implementing. The first update focuses on adding more relevant content to the feed. Facebook states:

We’ve noticed that people enjoy seeing articles on Facebook, and so we’re now paying closer attention to what makes for high quality content, and how often articles are clicked on from News Feed on mobile. What this means is that you may start to notice links to articles a little more often (particularly on mobile).

This is incredible news for publishers, who see Facebook as an outlet to get their content to their current readers and to get exposed to additional new readers as well. It is interesting to note that Facebook specifically mentions mobile on here as well, and should be taken as another signal that mobile content optimization is paramount to succeed online. Google has previously mentioned that websites and content need to be optimized for mobile devices.

Additionally, this should be taken as an updated approach toward how links are shared. Last year, when Facebook placed more emphasis on images, Page admins took this as a signal to start uploading/sharing images and adding a link to the story as part of the description. With the emphasis now on shared news links, it is highly advisable that Page admins begin sharing news links directly again.

As a compliment to this update, Facebook has started to show related content to articles that users click on. Facebook sees this as highlighting topics that individual users find compelling and describes how this works:

We recently began looking at ways to show people additional articles similar to ones they had just read. Soon, after you click on a link to an article, you may see up to three related articles directly below the News Feed post to help you discover more content you may find interesting.

A screengrab of how this will look in a user’s feed was also provided by Facebook


The other update is focused on comments being made on stories, and how older content that gets fresh comments may get bumped back to the top of users’ news feeds. Facebook says:

While trying to show more articles people want to read, we also don’t want people to miss the conversations among their friends. So we’re updating bumping to highlight stories with new comments. As a result, people may start seeing a few more stories returning to their feed with new comments highlighted.

This should be taken as a signal to Facebook page admins and users that not only should they be sharing quality content, but they should be sharing links in a way that will encourage comments by users so that the story has a chance to get that bump. Don’t just add a link and be done with it, edit the link’s headline or add a status comment that will encourage discussion such as inserting an open ended question or place attention toward content that is highly opinionated.

Lastly, in a follow up interview conducted by AllThingsD and Facebook’s News Feed Manager Lars Backstrom regarding the updates, an interesting question and answer arose:

AllThingsD: Are you paying attention to the source of the content? Or is it solely the type of content?

LB: Right now, it’s mostly oriented around the source. As we refine our approaches, we’ll start distinguishing more and more between different types of content. But, for right now, when we think about how we identify “high quality,” it’s mostly at the source level.

So it would appear that, at least in partially in comparison, Facebook is starting to take a Panda approach toward content that gets surfaced the most in the news feed by putting additional weight on content sources that are of higher value. There’s no indicator of how that source is identified as a high quality, though it is most likely taking signals from total likes a page has, how many “people talking about this” page are and potentially the average likes/shares/comments that page’s content receives.

If you haven’t done so already, begin placing greater attention toward sharing quality news content on your pages to get the most visibility, interaction and referral traffic from your fans and their friends. You’ll most likely start to see an increase in overall engagement in the weeks to come.


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