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A lot of attention has been paid to the effects of Google’s latest updates to its search algorithm.
And rightly so, as the latest changes give long overdue improved ranking to sites that have been optimised for mobile.
However there has been another algorithm change that less attention has been paid to, but could perhaps be just as important. Facebook's new attempt to balance content from friends and pages.
In a company blog post published on April 21, Facebook outlined how it now prioritises content from friends over brand page:
The impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity. In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline. Overall, pages should continue to post things that your audience finds meaningful and continue using our Page post best practices.
So what does this mean for marketers? The free reach to users that Facebook offered has steadily dwindled over the past few years and this latest change seems to indicate that Facebook is pushing heavily for paid social reach.
In this respect, Facebook is imitating Google by trying to get brands to pay more to reach users and at the same time improving the user experience.
Much like Google encourages best practice in search, Facebook will encourage brands to produce content on their pages that people will actually want to see, creating a better user experience for Facebook in general.
Another aspect of the algorithm change is how content will be distributed.
Previously, Facebook had rules in place to prevent you from seeing multiple posts from the same source in a row. With this update, they are relaxing this rule. If a user is enjoying certain content, then it will be more likely they will continue to see it.
This change may be in anticipation of the rumoured deals Facebook is pursuing with publishers. In recent months, Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook rather than making users tap a link to go to an external site.
This is an important development for publishers, as social has overtaken search as the main source of referral traffic. According to Shareaholic, social referrals passed search referrals last summer and is now up to 31% of site traffic as of December, and Facebook is responsible for 79% of those social referrals.
With these changes in mind, it is essential for marketers to ensure that their content is as relevant and engaging as possible, in order to keep hold of all important user attention.