Could this be the real reason you’re getting ignored on Facebook?
You click “publish” and sit back, excited for the coming hours. Pretty soon, you’ll be getting a flurry of clicks, comments, likes and shares from that irresistible piece of content or ad that you’ve been working on for days.
30 minutes later… nothing.
2 hours later… still nothing.
4 hours later… one last check before you go to bed. As you open your reporting screen, your stomach does a little flutter.
And there it is… the sinking feeling in your heart… your post has barely cracked 5 views… and with no clicks, likes, shares or comments, it passes on by, like a ship in the night.
What happened? Your content was going out to a huge, highly targeted audience on Facebook.
You even sent it to people who already know, like and trust you! Yet here you are, feeling like a ghost.
The Facebook silence is deafening… as you sulk your way off to bed wondering what went wrong… and whether it’s time to give up on Facebook completely. That’s when you start to second guess yourself. Was my timing off? Did I choose the wrong topic for my content? Maybe my offer wasn’t that good?
Or maybe, there’s an easy explanation for the crickets and tumbleweed you’ve been getting on Facebook lately.
Introducing the Facebook “Slap”
To understand the Facebook Slap, let’s quickly jump back to 2011. It was not a great year. Tsunamis in Japan. Riots in England. The death of Steve Jobs. And total devastation for millions of small business owners who were relying on Google for their traffic and income.
This was the year when Google pulled the rug from under many website owners and PPC advertisers, with an algorithm update called ‘Panda.’
This update was designed to penalize websites with a poor user experience, while rewarding those with a positive one.
It stands to reason – the last thing Google wants is for people to click a search result and land on website full of spammy or plagiarized content, false advertising, or plagued with popups. This translates back to having a poor experience with Google, and something had to be done or people would soon lose trust and migrate over to another search engine.
Sure enough, without much warning, millions of websites were removed from the first page of Google, shutting down their traffic, income and businesses overnight.
In 2017, Facebook followed suite.
Facebook was losing control. Newsfeeds were becoming saturated with posts containing links to websites that were spammy, slow loading, impossible to read on mobile devices, jammed with popups and shady ads, or even featuring illegal content. Facebook had to act fast, before people stopped clicking links, or worse, stopped using Facebook altogether.
Hence, Facebook waged war against anyone who posted links to “low quality” websites. Today, if your website falls into this category, you’ll be penalized in two ways — your posts will get less exposure, and your ads will be hit with a higher cost per click.
Your ultimate checklist for creating “Facebook friendly” websites
According to Facebook, there are several issues that can cause a “low quality” experience. Based on their guidelines — along with our own insights — we’ve put together a checklist to optimize your website and avoid getting penalized.
Optimize for mobile
According to Statista (January 2018), 95.1% of users worldwide access Facebook on their mobile devices. That’s over two billion people!
If you’ve ever visited a website on your mobile that’s not optimized for mobile, you know how frustrating this can be.
Facebook — and its’ billions of users — also agree. That’s why your website needs to look and function well on mobile, or your posts will reach a smaller audience (or if you’re running ads, it will cost you more money.)
Optimize for speed
Nobody wants to visit a slow loading website. In fact, people now expect websites to load within the first three seconds of clicking on an ad. If that doesn’t happen, you lose the visitor, and Facebook gets mad.
Whether you’re posting organic links (sharing content with your friends and followers) or you’re running paid ads, sending people to a slow—loading website will make your posts less visible on Facebook.
More content, less ads
If your website is loaded with ads — more ads than content — then it’s naturally going to deter people from your site. Whether you’re using Facebook or not, this is a pretty good rule to follow if you want to create a better relationship with your audience and deliver valuable content that builds trust.
Too many ads and you start to sound insincere, desperate and become a major turn off. There’s no golden content-to-ads ratio here, but common sense prevails.
Keep your content “PG”
Considering Facebook is a website for anyone over the age of 16 (even though we all know many 13-year olds are on there) it makes sense that any sexually suggestive or shocking on-page content should be avoided.
Not just to protect children, but to protect sensitive viewers who didn’t specifically choose to be exposed to such content.
Keep it relevant (no more clickbait)
If your content isn’t directly related to your Facebook post, you’re going to lose visitors, get a bad reputation and again, get slapped by Facebook.
Keep it legal
Any kind of posts that feature malicious or deceptive ads that are prohibited by Facebook will get buried, but most likely removed. Another obvious one here, but many people still think they can “trick” the system. They can’t.
Don’t stand in the way
If your website uses popups or disruptive interstitial ads (ads that are displayed during the website load) then once again, you’re going to get penalized by Facebook. Although popups can be an effective marketing tool, Facebook (along with its users) don’t want to see them.
Yes, it’s all a bit annoying.
But on the positive side, all of these things are going to work in your favor, regardless of whether you’re using Facebook or not.
It doesn’t mean you can’t advertise your business effectively on Facebook — in fact, the opposite is true.
By following these principles, not only will you get rewarded with greater visibility in Facebook and lower ad costs, but you’ll also create a far better experience with your visitors, who will be more inclined to consume your content and take action on your pages as a result.
But is it worth it?
I know. This is all a huge pain in the neck. But it’s a hoop worth jumping through; according to Facebook, brands and publishers that adhere to the new standards could see a lift in traffic, and those web pages with poor experiences could see a decline.
Do you have a choice? Well, yes you do…
Change takes time, we get that. So, what can you do right now, while those changes are being made?
Here’s a quick fix you can try, without changing anything on your website straight away — and it’s particularly effective if you’re running ads to collect leads.
The trick: use Facebook’s native microsite options. This allows you to create a miniature version of your landing page on Facebook to build your list or promote your offer, while bypassing your “Facebook unfriendly” website altogether.
For example, Facebook allows you to set up lead forms to capture email addresses, before you send them to your website.
This won’t work for many advertisers, but if you’re doing any kind of lead generation on Facebook and don’t have time to optimize your website and landing pages right now, this is a great workaround.
Ultimately, you’re left with two choices:
- Ignore everything and keep fighting the good fight (while Mr. Z pushes your content so far down in people’s newsfeeds you might as well market your business via carrier pigeon) and simultaneously, raises your Facebook ad costs so high, you’d be better off paying Elon Musk to build you a spaceship, and attach a website banner the size of Russia to the back of it, for a few extra eyeballs.
- Optimize your website following the checklist above and give people the kind of experience they demand and expect today, while lowering your ad costs.
I’m not sure about you, but I don’t like pigeons and I don’t have Mr. Musk’s number. So, I guess it’s #2 for us. How about you?