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Direct Traffic to News Websites Skyrocketed During Facebook Outage

Facebook Outage on August 8th

Something that rarely happens took place on August 3rd, 2018. Facebook outage lasted for almost an hour in North America and Europe. During this period, most users could not access their Facebook News Feed and as a result, they had no option but to go directly to the news site or search for the news on Google and other search engines.

According to data from Chartbeat, new website recorded a sharp spike in direct traffic from search engines during this period. While speaking during the just concluded Online News Association conference, Chartbeat representative reported that direct traffic to news publisher sites increased by 11% while news sites recorded a 8% increase in traffic during this outage which occurred a few minutes after 4.00pm.

Another report by Pew Research Center reveals that just under 45% of U.S adults actually use Facebook for news. Half of the Facebook news users get news from that social media site alone, with only one in five users polled relying on three or more sites for news.

Lesson from Facebook Outage

Even though the issue was quickly resolved, there are a few lessons that online marketers can learn from it. But before we proceed, it is important to note that Facebook confirmed that the outage was caused by a crucial algorithm update.

Algorithm change forced people to go back and use search engines to lookup information instead of relying on links shared on the platform by other users. It makes sense that when there is a Facebook outage; people opt to get the news directly from the publishers’ sites.

Notably, since January, Facebook has being working hard to optimize the News Feed by reducing the amount of third party commercial content displayed. The move had a significant impact on multiple entities. However, most news publishers noticed a decline in referral traffic from Facebook even before the algorithm change.

Why This Matters to US Digital Marketing and SEO Experts

Since 2017, Facebook referrals have being dropping, as more internet users prefer using Google to get their news fix. The online community is no longer able to easily and quickly get news from Facebook News feed and opt for Google or the primary news publisher website.

The results of Facebook Outage shown in Chartbeat report underscore opportunities for content creators to capitalize on well optimized pages and possibly news ads to reach news-seeking audiences in search. It also highlights programmatic and direct-buying ad opportunities for marketers to connect with people who frequent publisher sites.

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