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As Facebook turns fickle, publishers focus again on search

Publishers have spent the past few years furiously optimizing their content to take advantage of Facebook’s traffic firehose. Facebook now accounts for nearly 40 percent of referrals to publishers, roughly equal with Google, according to social analytics firm Parsely. But if Facebook has been a big source of traffic, it’s been far from a reliable once.

This past year, there was a 74 percent difference in publishers’ best and worst month in terms of Facebook referral traffic, according to ChartbeatMany also are dissatisfied with their ability to generate revenue from their content on Facebook and how the platform has responded to feedback and informed them of product and service changes.

Last month Time Inc. hired an SEO veteran, Jon Hawkins, to be its vp of growth, a new position at the corporate level that will put a significant focus on search. Rodale has also put more attention search in the past two years. “We need to make sure we have a diversified amount of traffic coming in and have all areas of referral traffic growing, so when Facebook changes its algorithm, while it hurts, it doesn’t cripple us because we still have a healthy amount of search traffic coming in,” said Beth Buehler, COO at the health and fitness publisher.

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