Facebook has become the centre of everyone’s attention in the last decade or so, with everyone’s social life being recreated onto this social network.

Since everyone’s focus is on this platform, it was a no-brainer for businesses and websites to build a presence on Facebook that they would redirect to their product. This has been a move that every business has conducted and those who have not, it is at their own peril.

However, at the same time, we know that not only legitimate businesses have taken to the platform, but also many site owners who spam Facebook with low-quality and ad-heavy links in a bid to increase traffic to their website and in turn increase revenue.

Up to this day, we are all very much exposed to these ad-heavy and low-quality links that populate our news feed, but Facebook has recently decided to take action in a bid to eradicate them.

Last month, Facebook announced an update to its news feed algorithm to penalize links to low-quality web pages.

This came just after weeks of Google’s ‘alleged’ latest SEO Update ‘Fred’, which caused great commotion, to say the least, amongst many SEO communities. The update, which hasn’t been confirmed to this very day, is believed to have targeted Black Hat SEO, in particular spammy backlinks.

In a similar fashion, Facebook’s latest algorithm update targets links to ad heavy and low-quality websites.

How It Works

The new algorithm that Facebook will be introducing across all of its platforms (Facebook & Instagram) will be checking the quality of the outbound links on their facebook pages. The links considered to be of low-quality, will be penalised by facebook.

This issue of spammy links has been around for years and Facebook has been waging against these low-quality links for a long time, but it seems that this necessity of penalizing such content has been taken to another level.

This is due to a variety of reasons, especially to the outburst of fake news spreading like wildfire across everybody’s newsfeeds following America’s last presidential election, a scheme used by many including Macedonian teenagers to make money overnight.

These posts and ads would feature outright false news but are designed in such a way as to pique people’s curiosity enough to get them to click on them. This would take the user to page which barely has any original content, but is packed with ads. Even upon a person leaving the page after realising it is spammy, the site still secures revenue of the ads that run by impression.

Why should you care?

If you are reading this, hopefully you do not have any association with these kind of low-quality outbound links. If so, you might be wondering that this does not apply to you and therefore should stop reading – which you shouldn’t do. Although you might be truly innocent of spammy links, you need to look out for what Facebook’s intelligence machine has been taught to detect as “spammy”.

We must remember that an A.I. is a machine that feeds itself information as it goes along, and it is not an impossibility that it might pick up on a page that doesn’t really have spammy content and links, but might have things that suggest that it does for example feature pop-up ads or barrel programmatic ads at the bottom of a page.

Although, the chances of this happening are low, since Facebook’s algorithm will determine the site’s legitimacy based on a lot of different factors, if you are not cautious of what some of these factors are, you might get penalized.

In Marra’s words, “It’s not a black-and-white thing. It’s all shades of gray along the spectrum,” said Marra. In fact, as it did many times before, Facebook will be conducting surveys in order to collect feedback from users about the kind of spammy links that appear on their news feed. This way, it hopes to continually update and improve its detection of low-quality pages.

Something positive that will definitely emerge from this that will highly benefit sites that have quality content, is that, by substantially reducing these spammy links, their traffic is expected to increase as it alternately decreases from these low-quality sites.

How do I know if I have been hit?

Unfortunately there are not many ways how to identify if you have been penalized by Facebook’s algorithm except for a noticeable decrease in referral traffic. Furthermore, Facebook will not be releasing a tool for site owner to check whether their site is considered legitimate or not.

According to Marra, the reason behind this is simply because of the fact that spammy sites can utilize this tool to their advantage and find ways of evading penalization. In addition, Facebook will not be warning site owners when they post a Facebook post with spammy link.

What happens when pages get penalized?

If a site is found to have most of its pages ranked as low-quality by the algorithm, Facebook will consequently the entire domain.

According to Marketing Land, one of Facebook’s product managers for news feed, Greg Marra, has compared the scenario to getting a speeding ticket:

“If we see that all of the links on your site exhibit these attributes, the next time we see one it’s like your sixth speeding ticket or something like that… And if there’s a site where we’ve never seen any of this before and we see something for the first time, the AI system is kind of like, ‘Well, I’ve never seen these guys be bad before,’ so it’s less likely that this is problematic. It’s a combination of both the domain level and individual URLs.”

Bottom Line

No matter how sure you are that your site is free from these spammy links, it always a good idea to go over it carefully to double-check and make sure your site abides by Facebook regulations.

If you are experiencing trouble or a sudden decrease in activity on Facebook, it might be the case that Facebook has penalized some of your pages. Get in touch with us before it is too late and we’ll help you set you back on track.

Don’t forget to check us out on Facebook and Instagram, and leave us a comment with any questions might have about the topic below. See you on the next post 🙂