The Current Climate of Facebook Instant Articles

When Facebook Instant Articles launched in 2015, it was limited to only a few publishers. The invite-only approach had both brands and new media companies excited for the next wave in mobile publishing. Soon, everyone with a Facebook Page could be eligible to publish Instant Articles, and as the years went on, the medium went through its own ups and downs. First, publishers experienced success with Instant Articles. Other times, Pages turned away from the platform citing a lack of tangible ROI.


Then came Facebook's industry-altering friends-and-family algorithm update in 2018, arriving in the aftermath of the platform's data scandal and fake news fallout. Today, Facebook's lurking data vulnerabilities have users and publishers discrediting the platform entirely, with some even spurring a #DeleteFacebook movement.

While it can be easy to de-prioritize the platform in your strategy for any of the aforementioned reasons, it is still a primary driver of traffic. Facebook is the most widely used social media platform by a large margin according to Pew Research. Instant Articles provides a lightning-fast experience that carries a lot of benefits for users on mobile — which is more than half of Facebook readers total. Pew data also shows that the amount of mobile readers has tripled since 2013, with 58% of people reading news on a mobile device.

Data from Pew Research Center shows Facebook still leads for net daily use over other major social platforms.

While the move to content diversification is important for all publishers, there's no reason to not take advantage of the audience that is on Facebook and deliver them the best mobile experience possible. Using the platform will also help your own site's pageviews and audience growth. Facebook Instant Articles can explicitly improve SEO and web traffic in the current digital climate. Here's why.

Default Content Optimization

Facebook Instant Articles forces you to optimize your content, which is particularly beneficial in the current state of search. Earlier in 2018, Google launched its speed update, which finally cemented the search engine's prioritization of fast-loading mobile pages. The speed update was only one drop in a stream of algorithm updates prioritizing user experience, which included page speed and relevant, quality content.

The same reasons Instant Articles were a smart way to optimize content during its launch several years ago are still relevant today.

Detailed Formatting: To publish Instant Articles, your content has to be formatted correctly. This includes proper headers, image captions, author attribution (another priority from Google in 2018), related links, etc. These are all the kinds of details that will not only beef up your article, but improve your relevance to Google. After its own struggle with fake news, Google is looking for articles that are detailed, complete, and relevant to the reader.

Dynamic Content: Facebook Instant Articles make it naturally easy for publishers to experiment with dynamic and media-rich content. Within Instant Articles, it's instinctive to add in interactive elements like GIFs, images, and video, which can keep users engaging with an article longer. The content diversification also allows for more network distribution through outlets like YouTube. If the YouTube video links back to the original media source (your article), that can improve SEO.

This Instant Article from Rebel Love Meow features dynamic content, including video, images, related articles, and ads.

Creating a mobile publishing experience that lends itself to correct formatting and engaging content seemed nice to have when Instant Articles first launched in 2015. Now they're absolutely essential to any search strategy.

Increased Web Traffic

Facebook Instant Articles naturally creates an environment for optimized content, and it also improves the way search engines crawl your site.

Better Code: To be in sync with Instant Articles, publishers have to ensure that their site's template or RSS Feed is cleaned up and working 100% correctly. This doesn't impact search directly, but clean code helps crawlers efficiently index sites, which, in turn, can also improve SEO.

Better Ranking: There is a common concern among publishers that an Instant Article is a duplicate version of a story's original site version. But Instant Articles works similar to Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in that regard, where the article is not hosted by Facebook. Facebook takes a version of your article through RSS and creates its own mobile version, which is how it's able to load content so quickly.

In a Twitter thread during the summer of 2018, Google's Search Liaison Danny Sullivan told users that every broad algorithm update revolves around the same concepts: speed and content. He then referenced their 200-page search quality rating guidelines as a way to succeed in the rankings.

In the eyes of Google, traffic to Facebook Instant Articles is another way users have chosen your content as the right answer to their search queries. By improving your ranking, your website traffic will naturally grow, too. This symbiotic relationship is what creates sustainable growth and organic loyalty. It all starts with quality, detailed, and relevant content. It then continues through mediums like Facebook Instant Articles, which help deliver your premium content to more users with less interruptions.

Adapt and Win

Integrating your content and optimizing it for Facebook Instant Articles can be tricky, but in our experience it's worth it. Our clients are currently experiencing explosive growth on the platform while other publishers are suffering from plummeting reach.

We believe content should travel easily across platforms. If you need help publishing Facebook Instant Articles, we can both help you get started and ensure you create a lasting strategy even if you aren't on our platform. If you're looking to publish to a social-forward, lean tech solution, then we're happy to discuss the path forward. Either way, request a proposal today and let's start working together.

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