Social Media SEO & SEM: Part 1: Facebook EdgeRank


Social Media SEO & SEM: Part 1: Facebook EdgeRank

Part I of this series looks at the organic side of Facebook i.e. ‘Social Media SEO’. More on Facebook’s paid products in Part II: ‘Social Media SEM’

Controversy earlier this year surrounding Facebook Page reach led to the company publicly communicating how it determines what posts are displayed and how high they appear on fan News Feeds.

Many Facebook page administrators reported low post reach, commonly between 5% to 10% of their followers actually seeing their post and often as low as 1%.

This led to Facebook revealing it’s now infamous EdgeRank algorithm. The algorithm uses three main factors to determine the reach each Page post gets. The higher the EdgeRank of a post, the higher likelihood it will be seen by your fans in their News Feed.

This means if your page has low EdgeRank posts or media, it will be seen by less people – despite the size of your formidable fan base. All of a sudden a large fanbase can mean very little indeed.

For Facebook, this now means the company can finally justify some of it’s advertising methods i.e. promoted posts which upon paying a fee, appear in more news feeds as well as being placed higher.

The paid component of Facebook should be viewed as ‘Social Media SEM’. More on utilsing Facebook’s paid products in Part II of this series.

Viewing Social Media as SEO and SEM components

Very quickly, savvy social media managers as realising they need to start seeing social media the same way they see website traffic; a logical blend of organic social media SEO via Facebook EdgeRank considerations and paid social media SEM.

The good news for brands is understanding the three main factors of EdgeRank and respecting them in your content schedule will maximise the organic level of reach your posts, defined as ‘objects’ within EdgeRank, will get.

Understanding the Fundamentals behind EdgeRank

Facebook EdgeRank algorithm

Before we look at how EdgeRank is calculated via its three main factors however, it is important to note some basics:

  • Every post (prose status update, photo, video, question) is an ‘object’.
  • Every object has an ‘edge’. An edge is everything that can happen within the Facebook environment i.e. a comment, like or shares are just a few examples.
  • Every post therefore has an edge.
  • The higher an EdgeRank of a particular object, the higher it will appear in that user’s News Feed.

Factor 1: Affinity


In Facebook, affinity can be understood as how close of a relationship a brand and fan may have. Affinity fluctuates, strengthens and weakens over time.

Affinity is built by repeat interactions with a Brand’s Edges. Actions such as commenting, liking, sharing, clicking and even messaging can influence a user’s Affinity.

Tip for Affinity: Make every post count. Make engaging weekly content a staple in your content calendar. Ask questions, discuss relevant current events and post content that arouses opinion and even debate as to strengthen affinity with your fan base.

Factor 2: Weight


Different actions and objects have a not equally have the same Weight in terms of the effect they have on EdgeRank.

With actions, commenting for instance, requires more effort than a Like and is therefore deemed more valuable and attains more Weight.

Objects such as videos and links are also weighted differently. Typically, interactive media like video and photos are weighted higher that static updates.

Weight of objects and actions in facebook edgerank

Weight hierarchy of Objects & Actions

Tip for Weight: Re-evaluate your Facebook content mix. Don’t rely heavily on weak-weighted objects i.e. links and static status updates.

Engaging content that encourages dialogue i.e. comments and sharing, should also be an area of focus. Remember, Facebook works best as a two-way channel.

Factor 3: Time Decay


The sheer amount of content being produced or ‘wall noise’ is continues to shorten the life of a post. Time Decay refers to how long the Edge has been alive; the older it is the less valuable it is. As an Edge ages, it loses value and subsequently will disappear altogether to make way for new, more engaging content.

Tip for Time Decay: The aim is to facilitate engagement via a well-rounded, well-Weighted content mix at the right time. In other words, post when your users want to engage or tend to be more engaged. How and when your fan base engages in what intensity will only be determined for sure over time.

One thing to be aware of however, particularly if you service over varying time regions, is an after work hours post in one region may be dawn time elsewhere. The tip here is to utilise Facebook’s Geo-Targeting feature for customised posts and schedule posts for later using social media platforms such as Simplify360, Sysomos, Mediafunnel or Radian 6.

Stay tuned for Part II of this series which will focus more on Facebook’s paid products: ‘Social Media SEM’

Moby Siddique

Moby Siddique

Currently working as a Senior Digital Strategist for The Web Showroom. Moby has spent his marketing career heavily involved digital, user experience and branding strategy projects forcing brands to challenge the status quo. Moby holds two degrees in Marketing including a Masters of Marketing and himself is a Digital Marketing trainer and keynote social media speaker.
Moby Siddique

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