Decoding the Facebook Algorithm: A Fully Up-to-Date List of the Algorithm Factors and Changes

If you do Facebook marketing, one thing that you might want to understand is the Facebook algorithm.

The Facebook algorithm helps make sense of the huge number of posts that people and businesses share every day and chooses the posts to show in our News Feed basedon a huge number of factors.

We want to help you understand how your Facebook posts get viewed on Facebook. So we’re collecting all the relevant Facebook algorithm factors, updates, and changes and placing them here in this post for easy reference.

Read on, and see what goes into the complex, fascinating formulas of the Facebook News Feed.

Facebook News Feed Algorithm: How the News Feed Works

Facebook algorithm values

Understanding the Facebook algorithm starts with knowing the core values that Facebook uses to guide their thinking and work. These values can give you a hint of what content will do well or not so well on Facebook.

Here’s a brief summary of Facebook’s News Feed values:

  • Friends and family come first: The main objective of the News Feed is to connect people with their friends and family. So posts from friends and family are prioritized. After those posts, Facebook found that people want their feed to inform and entertain them.
  • A platform for all ideas: Facebook welcomes all ideas while making sure that everyone feels and is safe. They aim to deliver stories that each individual wants to see the most, based on their actions and feedback.
  • Authentic communications: Facebook prioritizes genuine stories overmisleading, sensational, and spammy ones.
  • You control your experience: Individuals know themselves best. So Facebook creates features (such as unfollow and see first) to let people customize their Facebook experience.
  • Constant iteration: Facebook strives to constantly collect feedback and improve the platform.

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The overviewof the Facebook algorithm

So how does Facebook decide what to show in aNews Feed?

Here’s a quick overview of how the Facebook News Feed works, according toAdam Mosseri, VP of Product Management for News Feed:

http://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FFacebookforDevelopers%2Fvideos%2F10153644318738553%2F&show_text=0&width=560

To make it easy for you to understand the Facebook algorithm, we went through all the (known) changes that Facebook has implemented to its algorithm and came up with a list of factors that we think may determine whether your post shows up or not.

Do this: The Facebook algorithm loves

  • Posts with lots of Likes, comments, and shares
  • Posts that receive a high volume of Likes, comments, or shares in a short time
  • Posts that are Liked, commented on, or shared by one’s friends
  • Link posts
  • Post types that one interacts with often
  • Post types that users seem to prefer more than others (e.g., photo, video, or status update)
  • Videos uploaded to Facebook that receive a large number of views or extended viewing duration
  • Posts that are timely or reference a trending topic
  • Posts from Pages that one interacts with often
  • Posts from Pages with complete profile information
  • Posts from Pages where the fan base overlaps with the fan base of other known high-quality pages

Watch out for: The Facebook algorithm is not too keen on

  • Clickbait
  • Like-baiting
  • Posts that include spammy links
  • Frequently circulated content and repeated posts
  • Text-only status updates from Pages
  • Posts that are frequently hidden or reported (a sign of low quality)
  • Posts that ask for Likes, comments, or shares
  • Posts with unusual engagement patterns (a like-baiting signal)
  • Overly promotional content from Pages-pushing people to buy an app or service, pushing people to enter a contest or sweepstakes, posts that reuse the same text from ads

To help you grow your Facebook Page reach, we’ve written a few guides that you might like:

If you want to dig into the Facebook News Feed algorithm, read on to find out all the relevant changes Facebook has made.

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All relevant changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm

(Last updated: October2017)

Here’s a summary of all the changes that are relevant to social media marketers, in reverse-chronological order.

If you want to know more about any particular change, just click on the quick link and you’ll get more information about the change and how it may affect your Page.

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August 28, 2017: Pages that repeatedly share false news

Facebook will be blocking Pages that share false news from buying ads on Facebook1.

Facebook found that some Pages had been using Facebook ads to build their following and share false news more widely. To prevent the spread of false news on Facebook, Pages that repeatedly share false news will no longer be allowed to buy Facebook ads (until they stop sharing such news).

The false news will be identified by third-party fact-checkers.

How may this affect your Page?If you share false news on your Page (perhaps unintentionally), you might be blocked from buying ads. It’s great to always check the validity of content before sharing it.

August 17, 2017: Video clickbait

Facebook will be demoting Facebook posts that pretend to be a video2.

Spammers have been tricking people to click on Facebook posts that look like a video but aren’t. These deceptive posts are often videos with just a static image or they feature a false video play button when it’s actually a link.

Here’s an example from Facebook3:

Video clickbait example

How may this affect your Page?Facebook warned that Pages that rely on such practices will see a significant fall in reach while most other Pages won’t be affected much4.

August 2, 2017: Webpage load time

Facebook will be showing fewer stories with links that might take a long time to load5.

It’s frustrating when a website takes a long time to load. Facebook found that As many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site after three seconds of delay.

Hence, Facebook is rolling out an update to show more posts with links that load quickly and fewer posts with links that might load slowly, in the News Feed.

How may this affect your Page?If your websites are particularly slow on mobile, you might see a fall in referral traffic from Facebook. Here are some tools and tips for improving your mobile site performance.

May 17, 2017: Clickbait headlines

Facebook is rolling out an update to show fewer posts with clickbait headlines6.

In its continued effort to make Facebook an informed community, Facebook is reducing the number of clickbait stories in the News Feed. This includes posts with headlines that withhold or exaggerate information, such as the following:

  • When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS
  • WOW! Ginger tea is the secret to everlasting youth. You’ve GOT to see this!

Posts that link to articles with such headlines will rank lower in the News Feed.

How may this affect your Page?If you depend on such headlines to get a wide reach on Facebook, you will see a fall in your reach. The good news is that once you stop posting such clickbait stories, your Facebook posts will stop being affected by this change.

May 10, 2017: Low-quality webpage experience

Facebook is rolling out an update to show fewer posts and ads that link to websites with low-quality experience7.

To help build an informed community on Facebook, Facebook will be showing fewer posts that are misleading, sensational and spammy. Specifically, they are referring to websites with low-quality experiences, such as the following:

  • Websites thatcontain little substantive content
  • Websites that have a large number of disruptive, shocking, or malicious ads

Posts that linkto such websites will rank lower in the News Feed and might not be allowed to be used as Facebook ads.

How may this affect your Page?You might experience a small increase in traffic if you do not share such content. Otherwise, you’ll likely see a fall in your reach and referral traffic.

January 31, 2017: Authentic and timely stories

Facebook is making two changes to help authentic and timely stories rank better8.

To surface authentic content, Facebook will be analyzing Facebook Pages to see if they have been posting spam or trying to game the News Feed by asking for Likes, comments, or shares. If Facebook finds that a Page’s posts might not be authentic, such as people are often hiding those posts, Facebook will rank those posts lower in the News Feed.

To show people stories at the right time, Facebook will now study how people interact with posts in real time. For example, if there’s an important soccer game going on and many people are talking about it on Facebook, Facebook will show relevant posts higher in the News Feed.

How may this affect your Page?Some Pages might see a tiny increase in their referral traffic. Consider posting timely, relevant posts to get more reach on Facebook.

January 26, 2017: Video completion

Facebook is going to show long videos that people spend time watching to even more people9.

When ranking videos in the News Feed, a factor that Facebook considers is percent completion – the percentage of the video you watched.

Facebook now recognize that it takes more commitment to complete a long video than a short one. So it will now put more weight on the percent completion factor for longer videos.

As an example, if people are, on average, watching 50% of a 30-second video and 50% of a 10-minute video, the 10-minute video will rank better in the News Feed than the 30-second video. That’s because the 10-minute video has to be more engaging than the 30-second video to keep people watching for five minutes (vs 15 seconds).

How may this affect your Page?If you create long, engaging videos, you might see an increase in your videos’ reach. Short videos, as a result, might see a fall in reach.

August 11, 2016: Personally informative stories

Facebook will be showing you more stories that are personally informative to you10.

From its Feed Quality Program, Facebook found that people enjoy stories that are informative to them. Using the patterns that they learned from the program, Facebook will try to identify stories that are informative – usually, if they are related to people’s interests, if they engage people in broader discussions, and if they contain news relevant to them.

Facebook will then combine this new signal with signals of how relevant the story might be to each individual, to predict if they might like it.

How may this affect your Page?Informative content might get more reach on Facebook. From our recent experience, educational and entertaining content performs really well on Facebook.

June 29, 2016: Stories from friends

Facebook will be showing stories from close friends higher up in the News Feed11.

Despite the previous update, people are still worried about missing important updates from their close friends. So Facebook is tweaking the News Feed algorithm again to rank posts from close friends higher up in the News Feed.

How may this affect your Page?You’ll likely see a fall in your Facebook reach and referral traffic as posts from friends will rank better than posts from Pages. Facebook recommends posting content that your audience are likely to share with their friends12.

April 21, 2016: Time spent viewing

Facebook will be ranking articles that it thinks you will spend time reading, higher in the News Feed13.

Facebook learned that the amount of time someone spent reading or watching the content of an article indicates how interesting the article was to them. So Facebook is adding a new ranking factor – how long someone might spend looking at the article.

To keep things fair between short and long articles, Facebook will be looking at the time spent within a threshold.

A smaller change within this update is that Facebook will be showing fewer posts from the same Page together in the News Feed. That’s because people find that repetitive and prefers content from a diverse range of Pages.

How may this affect your Page?There shouldn’t be any significant changes to your Page reach. That said, this reinforces the importance of creating engaging content.

March 1, 2016: Facebook Live

Facebook is more likely to rank Facebook Live videos higher in the News Feed when those videos are live than when they are no longer live14.

Facebook found that People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.15 That’s because those videos are more interesting when the event being filmed is happening live than after the event.

How may this affect your Page?You might see that your live videos perform better than your other Facebook videos in terms of reach and engagement. Experiment with Facebook Live videos and see if they work better for you.

February 24, 2016: Facebook Reactions

Facebook recently rolled out Reactions – their supercharged ‘Like’ button – to help businesses better understand how people are responding to their content16.

For a start, when someone uses a Reaction, Facebook will infer they want to see more of that type of post, just like when they Like a post. But this could change17.

In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, wows or sads a post – we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content. Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.

How may this affect your Page?You will get a better sense of how people are reacting to your Facebook posts with the data in your Facebook Page Insights. If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook Reactions, you can find more information here.

December 4, 2015: Surveys

Facebook surveys thousands of people every day to improve the News Feed ranking18.

Besides looking at quantitative signals such as Likes, comments, and shares, Facebook also surveys thousands of people every day to understand whether the News Feed algorithm is showing people the posts they want to see.

Here’s an example of the survey:

Facebook story survey

If a popular post isn’t something that the people surveyed want to see, Facebook will rank that post lower in the future.

How may this affect your Page?This shouldn’t have a significant impact on your Page’s reach as viral posts are usually anomalies. But I believe it’s good to know that Facebook does not only look at Likes, comments, and shares when ranking your posts but also whether people actually want to see those posts. Relevance is key here.

July 9, 2015: Greater user control over the News Feed

Facebook is making it easier for people to adjust and customize their News Feed settings19.

The preferences tab will be more visible and more intuitive, allowing people to find Pages and people to like and follow, and easily selecting to follow/unfollow certain content.

newsfeed_preferences_follow_unfollow

June 29, 2015: Actions on Videos

Facebook now considers more actions on videos while ranking videos in the News Feed20.

Facebook found that many people don’t feel inclined to Like, comment on, or share a video even when they enjoyed the video.

So besides considering whether someone watched the video and for how long, Facebook is now taking into account of more actions such as choosing to turn on the sound, watching the video in full screen, and enabling high definition. These actions indicate that they enjoyed the video.

How may this affect your Page?If your followers like the videos that you post, this update will help them see your videos more often in their News Feed.

June 12, 2015: Time spent on stories

How much time you spend viewing stories becomes a factor that Facebook uses to determine what to show at the top of your News Feed21.

While many people might not Like, comment on, or share a post that they found meaningful, they would likely spend more time on it than other posts. Hence, Facebook is taking this as a signal for ranking Facebook posts.

By understanding what types of content someone prefers, Facebook can surface similar types of content higher up in their News Feed.

How may this affect your Page?Facebook does not expect Pages to see significant changes in terms of reach. But if you want to improve your Facebook reach, making your content engaging could help.

April 21, 2015: Content from friends and Pages

Facebook is rolling out three updates to improve the experience of the News Feed22.

The first is for people who do not have much content to see – maybe because they don’t follow many people or Pages. Facebook used to have a rule that prevents people from seeing multiples stories from the same source in succession. They are now relaxing the rule so that if you reach the end of your News Feed but still want to see more stories, you’ll see more.

The second is to show posts from friends you care about, higher in your News Feed so that you are less likely to miss them. If you read and interact with posts from Pages, you’ll still see them on your News Feed.

The third is to reduce or remove stories about friends liking or commenting on a post, such as this:

Story about friends' comments

How may this affect your Page?You’ll likely see a fall in reach as posts from friends will be prioritized before posts from Pages.

March 5, 2015: Facebook Likes

Facebook to update the way Page likes are counted, removing the likes of memorialized accounts and deactivated accounts23.

How may this affect your Page?It’s possible that you might see a small decline in the overall Likes for your Page once this update occurs.

January 20, 2015: Facebook targets hoaxes

Facebook aims to reduce the number of hoaxes in News Feed with algorithm tweak24.

To reduce the number of posts containing misleading or false news, Facebook has announced that the News Feed algorithm will begin to factor in when many people flag a post as false or choose to delete posts.

Facebook will reduce the reach of such posts and add a warning on the post (without reviewing or removing the post).

news-feed-hoaxes

How may this affect your Page?Facebook found from testing that people tend not to report satirical content intended to be humorous, or content that is clearly labeled as satire. This type of content should not be affected by this update.25 Only Pages that often post hoaxes and false news will be affected.

January 7, 2015: Video is growing

Facebook has provided some new stats and tips on using video, including these:

  • In just one year, the number of video posts per person has increased 75 percent globally and 94 percent in the US.
  • The amount of video from people and brands in the News Feed has increased 3.6x year-over-year.
  • Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day.
  • On average, more than 50 percent of people who come to Facebook every day in the US watch at least one video daily.
  • Seventy-six percent of people in the US who use Facebook say they tend to discover the videos they watch on Facebook.

How may this affect your Page?Facebook could be favoring video posts. Experiment with Facebook videos and see if they perform better than other post types.

November 14, 2014: Overly promotional Page posts

Facebook is rolling out an update to reduce the number of overly promotional posts in the News Feed26.

Facebook heard from people that they want less promotional content on their News Feed and more stories from friends and Pages they like.

After digging into their data, Facebook found that these are the types of posts that people find too promotional:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Here’s an example:

Overly promotional post

How may this affect your Page?Pages that often post such content will see a significant fall in their reach over time. To grow your reach, Facebook recommends posting relevant and high-quality content27.

September 18, 2014: When people Like and comment

Facebook will be looking at when people are Liking, commenting, and sharing28.

Facebook used to only look at the total number of Likes on a post when ranking it in the News Feed. Now, Facebook will also look at the rate at which people are Liking, commentingon, and sharing a post.

If people are engaging with the post right after it is posted, and not as much a few hours later, this suggests that the post was most interesting at the time it was posted, but potentially less interesting at a later date. Based on this signal it is more likely to appear higher in News Feed earlier on and lower at a later date.

How may this affect your Page?The reach of your posts isn’t just determined by the number of Likes they get but also by the rate at which people are interacting with it. Posts that consistently receive a good amount of engagement will be shown to more people on Facebook.

September 11, 2014: Offensive or inappropriate ads

Facebook stops showing ads that are offensive or inappropriate29.

When people hide ads in their News Feed, Facebook takes it as a signal that others might not want to see them, too, and show them to fewer people30.

Now, Facebook is also asking people why they hid the ads. If it’s because the ad is offensive or inappropriate, Facebook will stop showing the ad.

How may this affect your Page?If someone reported your ad to be offensive or inappropriate, you might see a significant fall in the reach of the ad.

August 25, 2014: Bounce rate

Facebook will be looking at bounce rate to determine if an article is using a clickbait headline31.

If someone clicks on an article and returns to Facebook immediately (or bounce), it might mean that they didn’t find what they were expecting. This is often because the article is using a clickbait headline. Facebook will be using this signal when ranking the article in the News Feed.

In addition, Facebook will also be monitoring if people are Liking, commenting on, or sharing the article after they click on it. If few people are, it’s likely that the article is not valuable, relevant, or meaningful. Facebook will then rank it lower in the News Feed.

Facebook will also be ranking posts with a link preview higher in the News Feed than posts with a link just in the caption – as the link preview shows more information about the article.

Link preview example

How may this affect your Page?Facebook found that posts with link preview received twice as many clicks compared to links embedded in photo captions. Experiment to see if that applies to the content you’re sharing.

June 23, 2014: Better videos

Facebook will now be able to understand (and rank) videos uploaded directly to Facebook better32.

For videos that are uploaded to Facebook directly, Facebook is now able to know whether someone has watched it and for how long. It seems that they are unable to do that for links to YouTube (or other video sites) videos.

Having this new information will allow Facebook to rank Facebook videos better. Early tests have shown that people are watching more videos that are relevant to them.

How may this affect your Page?Videos you upload directly to Facebook will likely perform better than links to videos on other sites such as YouTube. This was a mistake that we had been making for a while.

September 11, 2014: Like-baiting

Facebook will show fewer posts that explicitly ask for Likes, comments, or shares33.

Some Pages try to game the News Feed algorithm by explicitly asking for Likes, comments, and shares. Here’s an example:

Like-baiting

As people have reported that such posts are less relevant than posts with asimilar amount of engagement, Facebook will be ranking these posts lower in the News Feed.

How may this affect your Page?According to Facebook, This update will not impact Pages that are genuinely trying to encourage discussion among their fans, and focuses initially on Pages that frequently post explicitly asking for Likes, Comments and Shares.34

August 23, 2013: High-quality content

Facebook has developed a new algorithm to find and show high-quality content to users35.

To build the algorithm, Facebook surveyed thousands of people and put the results into a machine learning system. Here are some of the questions they asked:

  • Is this timely and relevant content?
  • Is this content from a source you would trust?
  • Would you share it with friends or recommend it to others?
  • Is the content genuinely interesting to you or is it trying to game News Feed distribution? (e.g. asking for people to like the content)
  • Would you call this a low quality post or meme?
  • Would you complain about seeing this content in your News Feed?

The algorithm also uses thousand other factors to determine if a post is a high-quality content. Some of these factors include how frequently content from a certain Page that is reported as low quality (e.g. hiding a Page post), how complete the Page profile is, and whether the fan base for a particular Page overlaps with the fan base for other known high quality Pages36.

How may this affect your Page?Pages that are seeing good engagement on their posts might see an increase in their reach. Here are some tips from Facebook37:

– Make your posts timely and relevant

– Build credibility and trust with your audience

– Ask yourself, Would people share this with their friends or recommend it to others?

– Think about, Would my audience want to see this in their News Feeds?

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Could you help us make this resource more complete?

We’d love your help in tracking any changes and factors to the Facebook News Feed so that this post can be as complete as possible.

Is there anything that we’ve missed?

Is there any news that came out recently that we should add?

Let us know by leaving a comment on this post or <a href="

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