Facebook’s Algorithm Change: What Really Happened?

Many page owners on Facebook have seen drops in their organic reach as early as December. We noticed a steep dive on January 12th for our brand page (as seen in the graph below). Prior to this change, we averaged 1M+ reach and over 3M PTAT for a single Facebook page. All of our other Facebook pages saw the same decline… very saddening!

organic reach facebook

Chad Wittman wrote an excellent post on Moz and I encourage you to read it. There are a few things I agree with there, but I think one needs to come to the realize that Facebook controls the ship and we’re all on board. It will be difficult to “game” the system to reach people in networks outside of our own like we could before. Let’s face it – if you were using memes to reach a larger audience, it worked and it worked wonderfully up until now.

What Really Happened?

Facebook’s announcement on December 2 stated that they want more quality content because that is what people want to see more of. Yet, I would sometimes argue that seeing a meme randomly here and there actually cheered me up and caused me to ‘Like’ the update. They also said they were giving comments a stronger lift in people’s news feeds because they want friends interacting with each other on an article or topic. So maybe to gain a bit of lift these days we need more people commenting on your post… ? Time for a Facebook Comment strategy!

Annalie Kaylor made a very relevant statement about Negative Feedback, which made really dig deeper in to my Facebook Insights to uncover what appears to be a “clean up” of our reach. The two metrics you would want to look at are…

Daily Negative Feedback: The number of people who have given negative feedback to your Page. (Unique Users)
Daily Negative Feedback from Users: Daily: The number of times people have given negative feedback to your Page. (Total Count)

negative feedback facebook

You can see nearing the end of November is where the clean-up happened. As we approach mid-December, most of the people who’s reported our content never saw them again, nor did their network saw our content. Sad.

We were hit pretty hard. Our negative feedback count reached a high of over 11K for one day in November. A negative feedback is given when someone hides your post / page from their Facebook feed or had reported it through a form like this one:

report negative page

So… What Works Now?

We can see that Facebook’s taken action and has limited our reach so what we can do is to abide by their rules.

One of the tactics that Facebook shared was to share more “link articles”. We tested link articles vs photo articles with a link – the winner was of course, the photo post. We received more than 10x the engagement and reach for that post.

During Bruno Mars’ halftime show at the Super Bowl, we posted a simply one liner update “Bruno Mars Halftime Show. One word – comment below:”  to our page and that post reached over 1M people. What did we learn here? Timing matters. That post received over 8K Likes, 148 Shares and over 20K comments.

Facebook also said they want more comment stories; so let’s bring more comment-able stories to them! We’ve seen this work well for a few of our posts and here are just a couple of ideas to get you going. This is all experimental – some ideas will work for your page, some won’t. The key is to continue to experiment and get to know your fans better so you can give them the content that they will want to engage with.

  • Your typical cute memes don’t work anymore, but images that require someone to comment like a puzzle, riddle, crossword or even a question works dandy.
  • Run a “caption this” giveaway where by you throw up a picture and you ask your friends to comment a caption that would go with the photo.

The couple of suggestions above brought our PTAT numbers back up to over 1M. About a week ago, our PTAT was as low as 900K from 3M.

If you have any other ideas on how to drive comments on Facebook, leave your mark in the comments below! Best of luck!

Facebook Page Sub-category and Map Missing: Hack

Having set up and claimed hundreds of restaurant Facebook business pages, I noticed pretty early on that there were some inconsistencies with updating a page’s information. I did some digging around the web, but couldn’t find a solution to this problem.

If you run a Facebook Page for your business, there is the option to set sub-categories in the admin panel. These sub-categories are ones like Chinese Restaurant and Indian Restaurant if you’ve chosen Restaurant/Cafe as your primary category. For some, this setting is invisible / missing.

facebook missing subcategory

(sub-category missing)

facebook subcategory

(sub-category appears after removing address, save changes and re-adding it)

The other issue that I discovered is, from time to time, the Map app on the main page is missing also.

 facebook missing map

If you’re a victim to these issues, then there might be a quick hack that can save you. This works 50% of the time – based on a dozen restaurants that I’ve worked with to solve this issue. Thank you Vino for suggesting this hack and sending the instructions over.

1) Go to your page > Admin Panel
2) Go to edit page and select page info
3) Go to Address field
4) Clear the Address filed and click on “Save changes” button
5) Go back to the address field and add back your address
6) Click on save changes button

After doing that, the sub-category field should show up in the admin, and the map should appear on your page. Again – this works 50% of the time. It won’t work for every page. Don’t try and run though these steps again the next day, or the day after. If it didn’t work the first time, it likely will never work. Facebook is aware of this issue, and is looking into it. Hopefully, this issue will be resolved, and every business page will be able to display their map and add sub-categories.

Events SEO Speaking Gigs

Lessons Learned From My First SEO Workshop

Last month I had my very first search engine optimization (SEO) workshop in our nation’s capital, Ottawa. Excited as I was, the first couple of weeks of promotion almost had worried about cancelling the event. For this workshop, I was only going to have a small group of 6 people. Why 6? I feel you can get a lot more questions and answers in, and with a smaller crowd most people are more comfortable raising their hands.

In the end, I felt like the workshop was a success. I received positive feedback from all of my attendees. A couple even asked if I was going to hold a more advanced course – heck ya! I will likely building that deck out in the new year, so stayed tuned!

While it all sounds goods and dandy, I had a few challenging moments while trying to my costs down. One of my learning lessons is definitely doing all my research ahead of time! Here is the breakdown of my sales and expenses for everything related to the first training:


In the end, my expenses amounted to more than half of what I made. For most people, they’d be pulling out their hair.

Whether you’re planning a training event, seminar or conference, I hope that these takeaways will help you in one way or another:

Staying organized and planning

A lot of my friends and family say that I’m too meticulous, clean and organized to a point that they are annoyed with the things I make a fuss about. One of the thing that I knew I could have done a better job at here is planning this workshop better. But like any new event or product, one must put it out into the market to see how people react to it before you invest more resources to better, or even yet, try to perfect the product. Let this be one of those times. I’ve concluded that there are a good number of people (small businesses and even students) who want to learn search engine optimization. M y plans are to improve the curriculum and offer training on more specific topics like Local, Multilingual and E-commerce SEO.

Cost of printing slides

You’re probably laughing at me right now. In this day in age, we’re still printing slides? Yes. It is still one of the best ways that people learn in the classroom. I offer handouts because I want my students to take notes, LOTS OF NOTES!

Learning lesson – don’t leave printing to the day before your training. I’m the type of person that will spend hours revising my old work. I’ve learned that there’s a fine line when it comes to making all those small changes and simply making sure I covered all the important components. Edit and polish up your slides early enough so you have ample time to print them without a bit of worry.

If you’re looking for quality colour printing in Ottawa, I recommend uOttawa’s docU centre. They are opened late, their paper quality is above average, colours all come out nicely, they will bind them and even give you a nice clear cover. Here is how mine turned out:

SEO Workshop Ottawa Handouts

Promote your event on as many *free* channels possible (more so the places that you engage on)

Everyone’s schedule is busy. If their Twitter feed is cluttered with news in the middle of the day and that is when you’re sharing information about your event, good luck. The key is to not put all your eggs into one basket. Spread your word through a variety of channels, to your networks (friends, colleagues, etc). Here are just a few suggestions for promotion your event:

  • Local meetup groups that are relevant to your event – outreach to organizers and see if he/she will promote your event. You may need to build some rapport first, so start making friends and contacts before doing it on a whim.
  • Local directories – some directories like Kijiji can be a great way for people to discover your event.
  • Use a service like Eventbrite – Eventbrite has a directory of its own. If your event is free, it cost you nothing and it goes right into the Eventbrite database.
  • Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn – these are the four major social networks that I target. You might have a different set. The important is to get the word out to the people that matter.
  • Venue website – if your venue has a website or event list, check to make sure all the information is correct. If there is a missed link opportunity, ask for it! It will be good for your organic visibility in the long run.

Of course, that’s not a complete list but a decent one to go off of to get things rolling. And look at what it can do for you…

Meetup group promotion (organizer outreach)

I’ve found local meetups to be one of the most effective outreach tools – yet it is one that most people probably don’t think of or think of it too late. Getting your event endorsed by the organizer is no easy task. It requires you to get to know the organizer, at least meet him/her once and attend a couple of events at the very least. An endorsement by a meetup organize to a group of 500+ means a free eyeball on your event page if he/she shares it with the group!

Let Eventbrite handle everything, but account for all fees

This is the first time I’ve ever used Eventbrite for a paid event. It was seamless. What I thought was going to be a lot of time spent dealing with logistical work, Eventbrite handles nearly all of it for me. As I stated earlier, my fees through Eventbrite was ~$20 + ~20 for processing fees (PayPal). The more you charges, the more you get dinged. Just keep that in mind.

One of the biggest advantages for you, if you use Eventbrite, is your event gets added to the Eventbrite directory. That means, any user that searches or browses the site might find your event. Free marketing!

Research early on your venue

My first workshop was at TheCodeFactory. Ian’s great – he even helped me promote my event! (thx Ian!). I chose this venue for a number of reasons:

  • Central – this venue is located downtown so it’s not far east nor far west of the city
  • Projector – the room included a quality projector so I didn’t have to lug one in myself
  • Powerbar and WIFI – all were provided with the room
  • Space – overall, the room was big enough for a 6-8 person workshop, no bigger (the sides were a bit narrow)
  • Privacy – we were in there on a Saturday so it was quiet and noise as not an issue
  • Cost – the cost to rent this room for a half day workshop was $130 + taxes (it was a bit expensive for me, but not over the top like some other places that I called)

Here is what the setup looked like:

SEO Training Ottawa Classroom

I can’t express how much joy I have when I get up to the front to share my knowledge and experience working in this space. Little did I know when I first stepped into studying search marketing that I would be teaching everything I’ve learned (and learning).

I hope for some of you who have not been exposed to SEO or want to learn to do better SEO come out to my next course on December 7. Hope to see you all there.

If you have any wisdom of your own, I’d like to hear it.

It’s currently… 1:27AM. Lights out.