Facebook soon to prioritise faster websites in users’ news feeds
Facebook is forever on the lookout for ways to improve the user experience, and announced earlier this month that they will be ranking faster performing websites higher than others in news feeds, pushing ones that might take longer to load further down. This change will be rolled out over the forthcoming months, giving publishers time to make adjustments to their contents.
How does the news feed work at the moment?
The update itself will enable Facebook to improve the user experience. The platform already takes into consideration the device you are on and the performance speed of your internet connection. For example, you might have noticed that when you are linked to a slower connection, your feed will display fewer videos than when you are connected to something a little faster.
Facebook aims to take this intelligence to new heights and will measure the estimated load time along with the user’s network connection speed and performance to manage their feed.
Collecting your data
In order to load pages faster, Facebook ‘prefetches’ stories, which means that the content is downloaded before the user even clicks on the link. The HTML file is cached for a short period of time, to ensure quicker loading performance and reduce time wasting once clicked on. Facebook decides which stories to ‘prefetch’ based on how likely you are to click through to specific content using data captured from each user’s experience.
What’s going to change?
Although Facebook has not specifically said how the change will affect their Instant Articles, it is likely that it will have a positive impact on where they are placed. This is not to say that Instant Articles will be catapulted to the top of news feeds, but they certainly will not lose link clicks over slower performing sites.
Facebook has not yet mentioned how slow is too slow, but they have pieced together an article outlining how to improve mobile site performance, giving publishers a clue as to how to avoid being caught out.
By updating their algorithm, Facebook hopes to combat frustration felt by users who click on links, only to find that certain pages take much longer to load. They imagine this will improve the user experience of those engaging with the platform and elevate their status as a news sharing site.