A link bait headline is a common practice used by marketers trying to get a heavy traffic flow to their content. It uses ambiguous language and teasers to get people to check out the article, promising something tantalizing on the other end.
For the most part, this is fine. But when the content at the link offers nothing of interest to the user, it becomes spam.
Users have said in a recently survey that they prefer articles that present some details in the teaser, to let them know whether or not they will enjoy reading the rest of the article. Many people resent having to take their chances, especially with the increase in useless posts that are only vaguely related to their headline.
To get around this, Facebook will be calculating how much time is spent at these links, versus how many people clicked through them. If users are frequently clicking links, only to return immediately to Facebook, the sharer will be deemed a link bait marketer. Some of their influence will drop, and fewer of their posts will show on user feeds.
Another method of calculation will be how many likes, shares and comments a link gets. If there are a lot of clicks, but no engagement from those who click through, the influence will also reduce.
How will this affect people’s pages? For personal accounts, it will hopefully mean only friends, family and posting pages they find useful will show on their feed. For pages, it will encourage visibility for those who are posting valuable content.
If people are posting link bait, they will see their influence and page ranks moving down until they start posting better content. Or at least until they stop using sensationalized, irrelevant tactics to gain traffic.
This could end up being a positive for pages. Another survey found that people are more likely to click on, and engage with, direct links to a page that show a section of the intro paragraph. Users are less likely to click on links embedded with comments or posts, preferring to see a reference to what they are about to read.
While it probably won’t reduce spam, it will at least encourage better content on Facebook. The sudden wash of useless posts has been frustrating for many, especially coming from featured posts that have paid advertising on the site.