Facebook’s Algorithm Change Can Hurt These Publishers the Most

On June 29th, 2016 Facebook announced that changes would take place to the algorithm with the goal of creating a “Better News Feed for You.” The post, written by Facebook’s VP of Product Management describes that the new changes will help you see more posts from friends and family. In a further post link within the article, a Facebook Engineering Director claimed that “Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages.”

This new update has publishers concerned, and for a good reason. If Facebook prioritizes personal posts over links and Pages, publishers could see a steep drop in Facebook referral traffic. One USA TODAY writer argued that “The media’s assumption about how it would survive in a digital world were founded on a Facebook partnership.” In another article on the matter, Buzzfeed put it in simpler terms claiming, “the users have spoken and news lost.”

With the turmoil caused by this Facebook change, we decided to take a look at 300 of the leading English language publications from across the world to discover who receives the most referral traffic from Facebook. This list was gathered using our US and UK publishers index, while also taking into account other major English language media sites from around the globe. Publications on the list come from the US, UK, Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, Israel, Philippines, New Zealand, Russia, Scotland, and Singapore.

The list takes data from Q1 2016 and is ranked by amount of desktop social visits each publication received from Facebook. Also in the chart is Q1 over Q1 change, which allows us to determine which publishers have seen an increase in their Facebook traffic and which have seen their Facebook referral traffic decline. Publications with an N/A under Q1 to Q1 change are sites that had not yet launched in Q1 2015.

Discover the full list below, scroll sideways to discover the Q1 over Q1 insights.

Overall, Buzzfeed is the biggest recipient of Facebook referral traffic and in Q1 2016, the viral news and media publication received 201,343,000 worldwide desktop visits from Facebook. This number, however, is down from 227,629,000 in Q1 2015, a drop of 11.5%. If the Facebook algorithm shakes things up for publishers, expect this number to continue to decline in Q1 2017. After Buzzfeed, littlethings.com was second when it comes to Facebook visits, and of the publication’s 89,580,000 social visits in Q1 2016, 98% of them came via Facebook, the highest in this study.

Unlike Buzzfeed, Little Things actually grew their Facebook traffic by 16% since Q1 2015. Overall, however, Epoch Times saw the largest increase in Facebook referral traffic when comparing Q1 2015 to Q1 2016. With a whopping growth of  2636%, theepochtimes.com received 12,933,000 Facebook visits in Q1 2016, ranking 75th overall among the publications in the study.

Joining Epoch Times with a growth of over 1000% were blastingnews.com, delish.com, geekandsundry.com, and atlasobscura.com. Interestingly enough, Atlas Obscura received 5,446,000 social media referral visits, yet only 65% of them came via Facebook. The rest of the site’s social visits came via Reddit- 20%, Twitter- 7%, and Digg- 8%.

Though this Facebook share of social traffic is below the average of 77% among publications in this study, it is far from the lowest. Over Q1 2016, only 10% of Live Leak’s social traffic came from Facebook, while 86% was thanks to Reddit. In this new media economy, we could see publishers relying more heavily on Reddit and other sites like it to make up for their loss of Facebook traffic.

In this new media economy, publishers will need to adjust their strategy and try to capitalize off of traffic from other sources. For more information on SimilarWeb and to discover more insights on traffic sources and the publishing industry, try out a free demo today.

About the Author -

Joseph is a Digital Insights and Content Manager at SimilarWeb. He has experience in content writing, social media, and analytics. When not tracking digital trends and creating online content, Joseph enjoys hiking, basketball, pickling, and Canadian alternative music.

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