...You'll Never Believe What Happens Next!
I’ve talked a lot about the various changes, updates, and new components of the Google algorithm, mainly because it influences so much of the Internet. But today we’re going to be talking about a change to the Facebook algorithm.
Apparently, they are going to be cracking down on clickbait in the near future to improve their user experience.
Wait, What Is Clickbait and Why Is It Bad?
If you’ve ever logged into Facebook, you’ve seen clickbait whether you knew it or not.
Clickbait is essentially some type of misleading headline that is designed to trick or fool users into clicking on a piece of content. And lately, they’ve been multiplying on Facebook like the dickens. One of the reason clickbait has been abused so much is because it’s extremely effective at driving traffic to a web page.
By now you might be thinking that you should employ some of these clickbait techniques to drive traffic to your site, but that may not be the best idea, because it can actually cause harm. You see, the thing about clickbait is that it can be extremely irritating and infuriating, which would mean your traffic stream isn’t quality.
Big traffic numbers are great for your ego, but bad for business. Oh, and a waste of time & money, too.
Here's why: a lot of mislead visitors to your site could cause your bounce rate to skyrocket, which could even hurt your organic rankings. Not only would you lose trust with your existing audience, but you could even be penalized by Facebook (as we’ll discuss later).
To put it bluntly, it’s a bad idea.
Don’t do it unless you want to risk the future of your website.
The following are all examples of headlines that could be lumped under the term “clickbait:”
- Outright lies that don’t describe the real content
- Headlines designed to make users curious, such as “Amazing Dog Saves Child’s Life, But Then, I Couldn’t Believe What Happened!”
- Withholding information such as “You’ll Never Guess Who Punched Brad Pitt!”
- Gross exaggerations of the truth
These are just a few examples, but I think you get the idea. And if you’re currently using headlines like these to drive traffic to your pages, it’s time to give it a rest. I think we’ve all run across clickbait, and even been fooled by it from time to time. Doesn’t it irritate the living crud out of you?
Sites like Buzzfeed and other similar web pages are notorious for creating this type of content, and it is getting a little old. Fortunately, the good folks at Facebook are going to take action to stamp out clickbait.
Facebook made a public announcement that they’re going to take further action to limit clickbait. Like Google, Facebook is always trying to improve the user experience, so it makes sense to try to eliminate as much crummy content as possible. In their statement, they claimed the following:
“We’ve heard from people that they specifically want to see fewer stories with clickbait headlines or link titles. These are headlines that intentionally leave out crucial information, or mislead people, forcing people to click to find out the answer. For example: “When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS… I Was SHOCKED!”; “He Put Garlic In His Shoes Before Going To Bed And What Happens Next Is Hard To Believe”; or “The Dog Barked At The Deliveryman And His Reaction Was Priceless.”
To improve their algorithm, a team reviewed and analyzed thousands upon thousands of content headlines, then created an identification system to filter common phrases used in clickbait articles. Essentially, it works in much the same way as a spam filter.
And hopefully, it will work better than ever before to filter all of the annoying, junky content out of our feeds. But what does this mean for the future of marketing via Facebook? The game is changing, so you’d better adapt your small business marketing strategy.
What This Update Means for Your Marketing Strategy
The best strategy for any content marketer is to create high quality, valuable content that solves real problems. I mean that generally, because some content is created to be entertaining (which solves the problem of boredom). But if you’ve been resorting to clickbait to drive traffic to your site, proceed with caution.
Facebook is trying to block clickbait articles, so it’s only logical that they’d penalize offenders. Apparently, the algorithm takes into account frequency and level of offense for clickbait articles, and if you do it too much, the algorithm will limit your visibility.
It doesn’t seem that they’ve actually implemented the changes yet. According to their statement, it will be implemented in “the coming weeks” (could they have been any more vague?). Facebook is confident that they can correctly identify clickbait, and that their algorithm won’t generate false positives.
If you write genuinely compelling headlines and create high quality content, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
My Final Thoughts
Instead of resorting to practices like writing clickbait articles, you’re much better off using a little elbow grease and creating quality articles. But for many small businesses, that simply isn’t an option because they’re so pressed for time.