Facebook is Penalizing “Engagement” Bait
It is no secret that Facebook has been trying harder to crack down on spammy behavior since at least last year. They have gone out of their way to reduce links that lead to poor quality content, news hoaxes, and fake videos. Already, they have penalized the practice of click-baiting in their algorithm since 2016. But just what are these practices? What does it mean for the Alabama SEO company trying to grow their business through social media? Does it have any major impact on your SEO?
Today, I am going to dig deep and answer the questions as best as I can.
What is Click Bait?
For those of you who don’t spend a good chunk of time on the internet, the term might not be familiar. Do you remember watching your favorite tv show and at the ending, the whole thing cut off before you knew what was going to happen to the characters on the screen? Will the judge rule the main character guilty or innocent? Can the hero survive hanging off the edge of that cliff? It leaves you, the audience, infuriated that you will not know what will happen until next week. It also makes you eager to watch the next episode, or sometimes wait for over year for the next season to come on. This is a writing tactic known as the cliffhanger, and click-baiting is the internet equivalent of that.
Usually, click baiters engage social media users, by showing an outrageous but effectively engaging headline of an article. “Find out How I Lost 100 lbs” “You won’t believe what he or she said…” Click baiters pique the interest of the user by posing a question or stating an outrageous claim. If the claim is intriguing enough for the user, they will click the text, and get sent to a web page with the article that answers the question but also filled with all sorts of spam offers, ads, and sponsorships that get in the way of that answer, or the answer is mundane and unfulfilling.
The practice of leaving a strong headline as a marketing tool isn’t a bad tactic by itself. After all, how else do you get readership if you don’t grab the attention of your audience?
The problem is that it has been most often been utilized by spammers, hackers, and websites that aim to increase their social ranking artificially.
What is Engagement Bait?
Engagement bait is a term coined by Facebook in their latest algorithm update announcement. Their definition of the term states, that it is a “tactic that seeks to take advantage of our News Feed algorithm by boosting engagement in order to get greater reach.”
As the current algorithm stands, if a post receives a constant stream of likes, comments, and shares, it starts to show up in other people’s news feed, in order to create a more widespread following of a popular post.
The problem is that the same spammers are capitalizing on this algorithm thus far by a few variations of this tactic to create a larger reach.
Average Facebook Users and Facebook itself see this as a variation of click-baiting, so naturally, they are changing the algorithm to reward users who don’t engage in that behavior and punish those that do.
What does it mean for SEO?
It doesn’t do major damage to your web SEO if you have legitimate engaging content. Likes, Shares, and Comments, do add up to your social media score for your website, but that is only a fraction of what Google puts into your SEO ranking. Google uses social media, the content on your site, tagged images, relevant keywords, outbound linking and inbound linking to rank your site. It is only a small part of a larger whole, so if you fail it, it isn’t the end of the world.
The whole point of this new Facebook policy is to create authentic value for user interactions and prevent the idea of growth hacking to cheat the system. If you have legitimately good content, then you have nothing to fear, except for the occasional misunderstanding.
The official motive does sound admirable, but we have yet to see if the execution will help or hurt legitimate Facebook businesses. After all, no human is perfect, and neither is any string of complex codes. It could backfire on small businesses if the algorithm lacks any sort of nuance.
Facebook did provide a link to their new guidelines about how businesses should behave themselves on Facebook, and are allotting at least a 7 week adjustment period for bloggers to learn how to navigate with this new algorithm that is being applied.
For now, only time will tell.