Facebook Follows Google, Pushes Publishers To Optimize Content, Page Load Times

Google's push to optimize web page load times seems to have rubbed off on Facebook. On Wednesday, Facebook announced it will soon roll out a change to its News Feed that rewards publishers willing to optimize page load times by increasing the distribution of links to faster-loading web pages, and negatively impacts those with slower speeds.

The update will roll out gradually, giving publishers the time needed to make adjustments based on Facebook's new guidelines. The move to optimize the speed in which content serves up in the News Feed follows one made by Google many years ago to speed content on pages and websites. 

"With this update, we’ll 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," wrote Facebook engineers Jiayi Wen and Shengbo Guo in a blog post.

Facebook will take network connection speeds and the speed of the corresponding web pages into consideration. If signals indicate the web page will load quickly, the link to that page might appear higher in the feed.

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The shift could give a boost to Instant Articles -- designed to give site users a better experience -- although Facebook makes no mention of possible improvements for the service.

As part of improvements to Instant Articles, Facebook recently added support for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages and Apple News format.

When the updated algorithm for News Feed rolls out, Facebook said that particularly slow web pages could see decreases in referral traffic.

Facebook also shared best practices for publishers to improve mobile site load times. Some of those include minimizing landing page redirects, plugins, and link URL shorteners; compressing files to decrease mobile rendering times; improving server response time by hosting content in closer regions; removing render-blocking JavaScript, and using a high-quality content delivery network to reach the audience quickly. 

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