Facebook announced changes to its News Feed on Wednesday that will cause webpages with faster load times to appear higher in the feed, with slow-loading pages being downgraded and likely seeing less referral traffic.
In a blog post, Facebook engineers Jiayi Wen and Shengbo Guo said the change is in response to frustrations from the Facebook community over slow-loading websites. According to Facebook’s engineers, 40 per cent of people won’t wait more than three seconds for a page to load, and Facebook wants to make sure people can spend more time reading the stuff they want.
To do this, Facebook says it will be taking into account the speed of your network connection, and the general speed of a website. If both your connection and the site is slow, the link will be lower in your News Feed. Publishers will have to figure out on their own if their site is not up to Facebook’s speed standards. The company points to a post on best practices for making faster loading websites.
TechCrunch pointed out that publishers using Facebook’s Instant Articles format will definitely not see a decrease, as the format strips bulky code and restricts ads for a faster load experience. Facebook did not mention any potential boost for Instant Article users.
The update is just one of many things Facebook has changed to make user’s News Feed experience more enjoyable. Facebook says it already evaluates people’s devices and network connections, and shows fewer videos and more status updates if someone’s connection is slow. Facebook can also prefetch mobile stories, downloading them before someone clicks to shorten load times.
The change will be rolling out to News Feeds over the next few months.