If you post content on Facebook, the odds are that you share quite a few links with your followers.
You’re not alone. Facebook users share a jaw-dropping 26 billion links a year on the platform, with 54,000 more being shared every minute.
Click this graphic to see exactly how many links are being shared on Facebook right now. Source: Coupofy
With such a vast sea of link posts on Facebook competing for each user’s attention, how can you make sure that yours float to the surface in 2018?
That’s where Facebook link optimization comes in.
Facebook’s News Feed algorithm decides whether or not your organic posts get seen. So, you need to work with the algorithm to make sure your Facebook link posts get bumped to the top of your followers’ Feeds.
You also need to keep track of all the most recent Facebook algorithm changes and how they affect your social media strategy around optimizing link posts in 2018.
Today, we’ll be sharing 5 tips on how to share links on Facebook for maximum reach and engagement—so keep scrolling and enjoy!
1. Keep your load times low (especially on mobile)
The average internet user gets frustrated and gives up on a website after only three seconds of delay—so make sure your site is blazing fast.
As of August 2017, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm prioritizes links to fast-loading web pages.
This move was intended to improve user experience on the platform. After all, you don’t want people sitting around for 30 seconds waiting for an article to load, then getting frustrated and exiting Facebook altogether.
In fact, Facebook research found that up to 40% of internet users give up on a website completely after only three seconds of delay.
FYI, the Facebook algorithm update for web page loading times primarily applies to mobile web pages, as it only tracks loading times from the Facebook mobile app.
So, link posts with slow mobile loading times are bumped down in Facebook users’ News Feeds, and faster-loading link posts are bumped up a notch.
If you want to maximize your organic reach on Facebook, you need to ensure that your web page has lightning fast load times (especially considering how organic reach has been dropping lately).
Not only that, you need to check that your web page is optimized for mobile since Facebook decides how fast or slow your web page is based on mobile load times. That way, you’ll see your Facebook link posts pushed to the top of users’ feeds.
2. Use images correctly in your link posts
Make sure to use correctly sized, high-resolution images in your Facebook link posts to maximize engagement. Source: The Atlantic via Marketing Land.
Images are hugely important for maximizing engagement when sharing links on Facebook. Users are much more likely to click on a link if it includes a large, eye-catching image.
In fact, according to a study by Buzzsumo, Facebook posts containing images generate 2.3x more engagement than those without.
Meanwhile, others have argued that link posts are more successful than image posts at actually driving web traffic to your domain since they direct users straight to your website.
The thing about link posts with image previews is that you get the best of both worlds.
To be clear, Facebook actually prefers link posts with preview images over photo posts with links in the captions. According to their research, links in the link post format receive over twice as many link clicks on average as links buried in photo captions.
That’s why they updated their News Feed algorithm back in 2014 to bump up link posts and bump down image posts with links in the captions.
On top of that, users are taken straight to your web page when they click the image preview in a link post, while clicking the image in an image post simply enlarges it.
So, if you want to maximize clicks on your Facebook links, compose your post in the link format and couple it with a relevant, interesting image—and make sure it’s the right size.
3. Avoid clickbait headlines at all costs
Desperate much? If you use headlines like these, Facebook is probably punishing your link posts. Source: Upworthy via Corey Padeveen.
By now, you’ve probably heard of clickbait—the obnoxious headlines and ads you see around the internet that exaggerate or withhold information from you, enticing you to click on them to see more.
For example: “Man Tries to Hug a Wild Lion, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next!!!” or “6 Babies That Look Exactly Like Celebrities…Number 3 Will BLOW your MIND!”
Well, we can probably guess…Source: Earth Porm via Zerone Magazine.
It probably goes without saying that Facebook doesn’t like these. Clickbait articles tend to make promises they can’t keep, disappointing users that click on them and making the platform they’re shared on feel spammy.
To improve user experience, Facebook has updated its News Feed algorithm several times to demote Facebook link posts that look like clickbait.
In an August 2016 update, Facebook refined its clickbait filter to work more like a spam filter.
Essentially, engineers at Facebook identified phrases commonly found in clickbait and created a system that compares every headline you share on Facebook with a database of existing headlines labeled “clickbait”.
If the headlines on your link posts consistently resemble clickbait, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm will lower the organic reach of your page. It will also reduce the organic reach of all posts that link to your website.
Going even further, Facebook enhanced their clickbait filter a third time in May 2017, demoting individual link posts with clickbait-y headlines in News Feed.
Sounds pretty harsh, right? But then again…you don’t see much clickbait on Facebook these days, do you?
(Plus, if your page stops posting clickbait, Facebook will restore your organic reach.)
4. Don’t bombard your website visitors with ads
Please don’t do this. Source: GIPHY.
Last year, Facebook adjusted its algorithm yet again to reduce the number of links to “low-quality web page experiences” on the platform.
But what exactly counts as a “low-quality web page experience”?
According to Facebook, low-quality web pages “contain little substantive content and have a large number of disruptive, shocking or malicious ads.”
For a more detailed description of what Facebook considers a poor external web page experience, we turn to their advertising policies.
Here’s what they don’t want to see on your web page:
- Text that blocks the original web page text
- Sexually suggestive or shocking content
- Deceptive ads
- A high ratio of ads to content
- Popup ads, interstitial ads, or any other highly disruptive ad formats
So stay away from popups and make sure you have a healthy ratio of ads to content.
If you do include disruptive ads on your website, you can expect Facebook to lower the organic reach of any posts linking to your domain. As a result, you’ll see less traffic flowing to your website from Facebook—so cool it with the ads.
5. Create engaging, high-quality content
While this tip sounds like it should go without saying, one of the best ways to optimize your Facebook links in 2018 is to create content that people actually enjoy.
However, what many marketers and social media managers don’t realize is that Facebook has a concrete way of measuring the quality of your link posts.
As we mentioned in the last two points, Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has a way of identifying and demoting “low-quality” link posts. But how does it decide which links are high quality?
Facebook mentioned the first deciding factor during their initial push to limit the spread of clickbait in 2014—time spent outside Facebook.
If users spend a long time reading an article they clicked on from a Facebook link post, then Facebook deems the link “high quality” and prioritizes it in other users’ News Feeds.
Meanwhile, if users bounce back to Facebook a few seconds after clicking the link, it’s a good indication the web page is low quality. That link is then bumped down in users’ feeds accordingly.
Another factor Facebook uses to determine the quality of a link post is the ratio of link clicks to link post engagement.
Basically, the number of link clicks is divided by the number of reactions, comments, and shares on the post to determine if the people that clicked the link found anything of value there.
Finally, with the latest Facebook algorithm change, Zuckerberg and co. have decided to prioritize posts that prompt “meaningful interactions” between users. This means that links shared on Facebook which get users commenting and interacting with each other’s comments will see more organic reach in 2018.
It’s not enough these days to just get shares or reactions—you need to get people talking.
Publish: An easier way to share links
Of course, sharing links on Facebook could be simpler. It can be a hassle wrangling long URLs into your body copy, and you don’t have much control over how your link posts actually end up looking.
With Falcon’s Publish module, you can automatically shorten your URLs to clean up your posts and save space. You can also customize the images, headlines, and body copy of your link posts, then preview how they will appear on Facebook:
Falcon’s Publish module lets you shorten your URLs and see exactly how your link posts will look so you can customize them to your heart’s content.
But whether you’re using Facebook natively or using a Facebook partner like Falcon, you need to optimize your Facebook link posts around the News Feed algorithm if you want to see results.
Trust us—your organic reach (and web traffic) will thank you for it.