Facebook’s Click Bait Changes Explained, For Your Page And Website

Bait and switch
Bait and switch

Another week, another Facebook update. This week, Facebook has declared war on click bait by announcing that it will be de-emphasized in the news feed algorithm, which determines what types of content users see.

This latest update came with two major changes, and to make sure your page’s content doesn’t get drowned out, you’re going to want to pay attention to both of them.

Change No. 1: Click-Bait Is Discouraged

The definition of “click-bait” is a little debatable, but generally you’ll know it when you see it, and it refers to anything that hides what you really want to see in favor of a teaser-ish headline. Sites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy have used this method of headline writing to drive a lot of traffic in recent years. Their success was so great, it inspired The Onion to launch a site dedicated to mocking them.

_4__Upworthy
_4__Upworthy

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to avoid posting click bait: Don’t post it. If you’re having difficulty figuring out if your content qualifies as click bait, ask whether it’s deliberately withholding information in the headline in the hopes of generating a click. If so, it’s click bait.

The other thing you'll want to focus on—and we say this so often anyway—is publishing quality content. Here's Facebook on how it will determine that (emphasis mine):

"One way is to look at how long people spend reading an article away from Facebook. If people click on an article and spend time reading it, it suggests they clicked through to something valuable. If they click through to a link and then come straight back to Facebook, it suggests that they didn’t find something that they wanted. [...]

"Another factor we will use to try and show fewer of these types of stories is to look at the ratio of people clicking on the content compared to people discussing and sharing it with their friends. If a lot of people click on the link, but relatively few people click Like, or comment on the story when they return to Facebook, this also suggests that people didn’t click through to something that was valuable to them."

In other words, make sure spend time reading your content, but also make sure they come back to talk about it on Facebook.

Change No. 2: Greater Emphasis on Links-As-Links

This one’s a little confusing if you’re not familiar with Facebook’s intricacies. No worries, because we’ve got screengrabs below.

Basically, there’s more than one way to post a link on Facebook, and Facebook is now saying that a link posted as a link will be given greater emphasis than links posted as status updates or photos. Here’s an example of each:

Status Update (Don’t Use This)

statusupdatelink
statusupdatelink

Photo (Don’t Use This)

photolinkpost
photolinkpost

Link (This One’s OK!)

linklinkpost
linklinkpost

Lastly: 2 Things To Pay Attention To Because Of Change No. 2

Now that you’re all ready to post links as links, you’ll want to take a look at two things on your website or blog to make sure your links are optimized.

1. Update your title tags. When Facebook pulls in a link, it uses the title tag from your web pages to title the links. Look above. See the part that says “The Curator News Feed: August 22, 2014”? That’s the title of the page we’re linking to. We wouldn’t want that to say, for instance, “Curator: A PR Agency,” or anything.

2. Make sure your images are Facebook-optimized. Link-preview images, like the Mo’ne Davis one above, can come out looking weird if you haven’t sized them right. Make sure you have at least one image on your page that is 1.91 times as wide as it is high (actual pixels don’t matter)—that’s the golden ratio.

Have any questions? Feel free to find us on Facebook or Twitter.

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"Bait and Switch" by Rian Castillo is licensed under CC BY 2.0