Following in Google’s footsteps, Facebook tweaks its mobile News Feed to show more fast-loading stories


Over the years, Facebook has made many changes to its News Feed algorithm. Now, the company is taking a page out of Google’s book: Facebook is updating its News Feed algorithm to show more stories that load quickly on mobile and fewer stories that might take longer to load. The update will roll out “gradually over the coming months.”

Google has spent the last few years obsessing with how best to optimize its mobile search experience. In fact, the company unveiled the open source Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project in October 2015, and then proceeded to push it across its various properties, all the while making it faster and faster. It’s been so successful that even Facebook’s Instant Articles is adopting AMP.

Now, Facebook is saying the same thing Google has been shouting about for years:

We’ve heard from people that it’s frustrating to click on a link that leads to a slow-loading webpage. In fact, even more broadly on the internet, we’ve found that when people have to wait for a site to load for too long, they abandon what they were clicking on all together. As many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site after three seconds of delay.

But talk is cheap, so Facebook is going to factor speed into its News Feed algorithm, just like Google does with its search algorithm. Specifically, the social giant will soon “take into account the estimated load time of a webpage that someone clicks to from any link in News Feed on the mobile app.”

Facebook users’ network connection will be considered, in addition to the general speed of the corresponding webpage. If Facebook concludes that the webpage will load quickly, “the link to that webpage might appear higher in your feed.”

To be clear, Facebook has taken speed into account before. If you are on a slower internet connection that can’t handle videos, for example, Facebook’s News Feed will show you more status updates and links instead. Facebook prefetches stories by downloading mobile content before someone clicks a link, to help those on slow or poor network connections.

Facebook anticipates that most Pages won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in the News Feed, but also warns that “particularly slow” webpages could see decreases in referral traffic. As such, the company is offering tips to make your site faster and more mobile-friendly. Facebook also recommends the following five tools for site owners looking to improve their mobile user experience: Page Speed, Yslow, WebPageTest, PageSpeed Insights, and Dotcom-monitor.

Here are Facebook’s “10 Speed Best Practices”:

  1. Minimize landing page redirects, plugins, and link shorteners
  2. Compress files to decrease mobile rendering time
  3. Improve server response time by utilizing multi region hosting
  4. Remove render-blocking javascript
  5. Use a high-quality content delivery network to reach your audience quickly
  6. Remove redundant data that does not impact how the page is processed by the browser
  7. Optimize images to reduce file size without diminishing visual quality
  8. Reduce the size of above the fold content to prioritize visual content
  9. Use asynchronous scripts to streamline page render time
  10. Dynamically adjust the content for slower connections/devices

Website owners now have now have three reasons to make their mobile sites faster: Their users, Google, and Facebook.

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Author: Emil Protalinski

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