Facebook Updates: Include Links But Don’t Ask People to Click

Written by Nick Stamoulis

Not too long ago guest blogging was a popular SEO link-building tactic. Write a guest post for a website, include a link back to your site, and improve your link portfolio. It was a “win win” scenario. The website that published the guest post was getting content to keep the site active and the guest author was able to get a link back to their site. However, like nearly everything else in SEO, the spammers took hold of the tactic and essentially ruined it for everyone. Back in January 2014 Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, had this to say:

Click-Bait Headlines are Out!Facebook Updates: Include Links But Don't Ask People to Click

“Click-baiting” is when a publisher posts a link with a headline that encourages people to click to see more, without telling them much information about what they will see. Posts like these tend to get a lot of clicks, which means that these posts get shown to more people, and get shown higher up in News Feed.

However, when we asked people in an initial survey what type of content they preferred to see in their News Feeds, 80% of the time people preferred headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the full article before they had to click through.

Over time, stories with “click-bait” headlines can drown out content from friends and Pages that people really care about.

By not telling someone the payoff you force them to click through to the story (great way to pull traffic, right?), but Facebook has found that those kinds of articles tend to not get as many Likes and shares among readers, or the Facebook users click right back to their News Feed, indicating the information was not what they were expecting. Facebook doesn’t want your updates to be full of lingo like “Click here to see more!” “Find out by clicking now!” and things like that. Instead, pull people over with some nugget of information or engaging headline.

How Do You Add the Link?

Now just because Facebook doesn’t want you using click-bait lingo and ask people to click on your update, you still need to include link in your update! In fact, they want you to put that link in there and not just embed it in a clickable image or caption.

We’ve found that people often prefer to click on links that are displayed in the link format (which appears when you paste a link while drafting a post), rather than links that are buried in photo captions. The link format shows some additional information associated with the link, such as the beginning of the article, which makes it easier for someone to decide if they want to click through. This format also makes it easier for someone to click through on mobile devices, which have a smaller screen.

With this update, we will prioritize showing links in the link-format, and show fewer links shared in captions or status updates.

So what does this mean for you and your Facebook content sharing strategy? Make sure your headlines are actual headlines, and not just click-bait calls. Think more like a journalist for the New York Times and less like a TMZ reporter that’s trying to make a small story seem bigger than it is. But still include that link in the actual update itself, even if you don’t think it’s the most aesthetically pleasing option.

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