Besides the usual finance posts I’m writing here on Finance For Geek, I also want this website to be about growing a blog, overall optimization and performance improvement. That’s why since last month, I’m writing about specific features aimed at improving some core functions, whether it be regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO), speed optimization (that’s the topic today!) or analytics. I’m also doing this to track what has been done on the long-term to improve this website!
After a first post on implementing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), I’ve just finished setting up and customizing Facebook Instant Articles on this blog, so it was all natural for me to talk about it! This is another really important and efficient feature to implement. It is designed to improve user experience and loading times on Facebook, with an instant loading time for Facebook users going to your blog from mobile devices. The Instant Articles platform is relatively easy to experiment with, so you don’t need to fully commit to try it out.
Before we dive in this topic, if you need any help or advice on how to get started with Instant Articles just ask me anything on Facebook or Twitter, I usually answer pretty quickly! So here it is, the second post of my “growing your blog” post series, in which I will be detailing the what, why and how to setup Instant Articles to skyrocket your blog traffic!
- What is Facebook Instant Articles
- Benefits & Limitations
- Do you need it
- How to setup Instant Articles
- Next steps
What is Facebook Instant Articles exactly?
Instant Articles is a feature from Facebook which aims at solving the problem of slow loading of articles. An Instant Article is totally optimized for fast mobile performance, rich story-telling capabilities, and a fully customized visual display. It was first launched back in May 2015 (but was only available for selected publishers). It has then been made available to anyone since April 2016.
You can visit the official website here.
It’s very similar to Accelerated Mobile Pages. However, Instant Articles are only limited to Facebook’s platform, and more specifically to their mobile & tablet app, whereas Accelerated Mobile Pages are platform-agnostic and can be served for any browser, app, or web viewer.
Once enabled and configured, whenever your articles are shared on Facebook, people surfing on the mobile app will be able to see the Instant Article icon next to your posts. Basically, this means that the article is an Instant Article which can be opened instantaneously.
There’s no doubt that you already have experienced Instant Articles when using the Facebook mobile app on your smartphone. If not, from now on pay attention or check a few posts on my Facebook Page using your mobile app. Below is a screenshot of what it actually looks like.
As we’ll see later on this post, implementing Facebook Instant Articles can be as easy as enabling the official plugin on WordPress and a few more customization steps. It’s also really easy to monetize such articles if you want to, and this monetization is totally independent from other monetization techniques you might already be using.
Benefits & Limitations
There are three major benefits to implement Instant Articles which will help you to grow your blog tremendously:
- Enhanced user experience & Instant loading time
- Increased chances for content sharing directly from Facebook
- New ways to monetize your content (via Facebook Audience Network)
Instant loading time means a better audience experience. Since Instant Articles are optimized and load within the app rather than on the standard mobile web, they render up to ten times faster. Facebook even reports that:
”Instant Articles have 70% lower bounce rates and 30% higher share rates than standard mobile web articles.”
A really nice new feature is the persistent share button located directly within Instant Articles (on the top right) and also the automatic adding of related posts (after the articles) still directly within Facebook. Both these features are key to increasing your pageviews as well as your social media share rate.
Lastly, one main benefit from Instant Article is that you can monetize directly within Facebook Network. One of its main advantage is that the fill rate & CPM is pretty high in comparison to other ad networks. The other benefit is that it’s literally a one click-install to apply and publish your ads automatically within your Instant Articles once you’ve finished the basic setup.
- As the aim is to get faster loading time and as it is hosted directly on Facebook servers, you will not get your readers to utilize some of your useful widgets, email list forms and some of the other things that are found on your site but aren’t an integral part of your content
- You can use some images and videos on your articles, but Instant Articles will limit that as well
Ultimately, the limits are designed to improve the user experience, and that may encourage more users to read through your entire article and even to click through to your other content. That can then lead to more impressions and clicks, which can improve your advertising revenue.
Why would you need it?
As with Accelerated Mobile Pages, if quite a significant part of your traffic comes from mobile or tablet searches and specifically Facebook, then you will definitely benefit from implementing Instant Articles.
However, even if you do not rely heavily on Facebook, there’s no doubt that this new publishing format will be seen as a new opportunity to grow your traffic. The formatting limitations will make you think harder about your content creation, which will only improve the content you create. You’ll be forced to make every word count, which will result in content that has a greater impact for readers.Improving user experience will in fact encourage more users to read through your entire article.Click To Tweet
Additionally, once users adopt using Instant Articles results instead of regular ones, the increase in click-through-rate that your pages will have compared to your competitors will boost your ranking considerably in Facebook algorithm.
Finally, given the fact that it’s really easy to implement, there’s no real reason not to adopt it as soon as you can! If you’re planning on starting a blog or if you have already, this would definitely be a new way to improve and monetize it, as well as skyrocket your blog traffic!
How to setup Facebook Instant Articles
There are only a few requirements in order to setup Facebook Instant Articles on WordPress:
- You must have a Facebook Page
- You must create a Facebook Page App
- When it was first launched you had to have 50 articles minimum before applying. It was then reduced to 10 and now you can start even with only 5 articles!
- There’s an official Facebook plugin for Instant Articles to fasten and simplify the approval and setup process
Follow these 9 steps to setup Instant Articles
1- Sign-up to Facebook Instant Articles
- You can do this on the official page here. Once you have applied, select your Facebook Page
- You will then be redirected to the “Publisher Tools” section of your Facebook Page
2- Prove ownership of your website
- Scroll down to the “Tools” section. Facebook will provide you with a code snippet which you have to insert in the <head> section of your website (if you’re unsure how to do this feel free to ask me on Twitter or Facebook!)
- Once you’ve added this code, add your website URL and click on “Claim URL” to verify ownership
4- Install and activate the official Facebook Instant Articles plugin for WordPress
- Once it’s activated, your articles will be automatically submitted to Facebook with a new feed URL, which by default would be like this: /feed/instant-articles/
- There are a few settings to configure for this plugin, but this will be done on step 7. For now just head over to your Facebook Page settings
5- Synchronize your new website feed with Facebook
- Navigate to the “Publishing Tools” section of your Facebook Page and then in “Instant Articles Production RSS Feed” paste your complete feed URL (for example mine is https://financeforgeek.com/feed/instant-articles/)
6- Configure your Facebook Page App
- To do so, head over to Facebook for Developers
- Click on the “Add a New App” menu. Then select “Website“
- Define a name for your app (this can be anything) and hit “Create New Facebook App ID“
- Enter your email address and select “Apps for Pages” for the category
- On the quick start page, scroll down to the section “Tell us about your website” and enter your website home page URL
- You can skip the end of the quick start and just hit “Skip Quick Start“
- Go to “App Review” on the left tab and hit “Yes” on the “Make Instant Articles public“
- Go back to “Dashboard” on the left tab
- You will then be able to see your App ID and your App Secret. Copy both of them as they will be required in the next step
7- Finalize the plugin configuration & activation
- Go back to your WordPress dashboard, head to “Instant Articles” on the left tab, and then you will have to paste your App ID and your App Secret
- The plugin’s settings page will now show you a login with Facebook button. This will take you to Facebook, and you will be asked to give the app permission to access your profile information
- After giving permissions, you will be redirected back to your WordPress site. Click on the “Select Page” drop down menu to select your Facebook Page
8- Customize your Instant Articles
- Head over to your Facebook Page and go to the “Publishing Tools” section. Navigate to “Configuration” and then “Styles“
- Now click on the “default” style and you have all the options required to fully customize your Instant Articles
- Upload your logo and define the styles as you want
9- Submit for review
- You must have 5 articles before you can apply. Once you’ve defined your styles and you have enough articles, navigate to “Configuration” and then look for “Step2: Submit For Review“
- Hit “Submit For Review“
The submission usually takes a couple of days and you’re basically done when it’s approved.
After the approval process, when users will click on your articles within their Facebook app, instead of your regular URL they will be redirected to Facebook hosted version, thus benefiting from instant loading time and better sharing opportunity.
Instant Articles monetization
Instant Articles are surprisingly easy to monetize, thanks to Facebook Audience Network, which is basically “Adsense for Facebook” with two key differences:
- The fill rate & CPM is pretty high in comparison to other ad networks
- You have the option to setup your ads placement manually or to let Facebook automate the placement
Follow these five steps to enable Audience Network ads
1- Go to your Facebook Page “Instant Articles settings“, then search for “Audience Network“.
2- Click “Get Started“, then “Your Dashboard“.
3- Once you’re in the dashboard, click on the “Placements” tab and then “Create Ad Placement“. There are 3 different ad formats available:
- Interstitial (that’s reserved for mobile apps)
4- Select either the “Banner” ad format or the “Native” one and click on “Save“. Now, copy the Placement ID.
5- Go back to your WordPress dashboard, head to “Instant Articles” on the left tab to access the ads settings.
- Select Ad Type: Facebook Audience Network
- Paste the Placement ID from previous step
- Select the desired Ad Dimensions
Click on “Save” and you’re done with Facebook Instant Articles monetization! Now ads will appear automatically directly within your Instant Articles. If you want to check it, remember to access Facebook from a mobile or tablet device.
Once everything is installed, customized the way you want and you’ve verified its implementation, you’re basically good to go. Nothing else has to be done on your side as all your new posts will be available with Instant Articles specific versions as soon as you hit “Publish”!
Just to be sure, if you want to be extra cautious, you can still check from time to time that your Instant Articles are still validated:
- To view your library, click Publishing Tools from the top of your Facebook Page and then select Instant Articles from the menu on the left of the screen.
- If you want to check the formatting / styling of your Instant Articles, the only way (currently) is to use the Facebook “Pages App”, then select “Instant Articles” to have a preview of what they actually look like.
- If you want to learn more about Instant Articles and its upcoming new features, go to Instant Articles developer docs and Instant Articles blog.
As explained in my Goals For 2017, I’ve set myself some goals for 2017 and one of these goals is to generate a recurring side income from this blog as well as to learn about website optimization. Instant Articles was one of the first improvement I made to reach such a goal, mainly because articles look way much better when they are setup with Instant Articles, and also because Facebook Network Audience is a great way to monetize your articles.
Facebook Instant Articles are truly powerful and it’s definitely an upgrade to mobile-friendly pages, as it allows to enhance a lot the overall user experience. If you want to go all-in regarding mobile and loading time improvement, the next logical step if you have not done it already is to implement Accelerated Mobile Pages, but implementing Facebook Instant Articles is definitely another good step towards growing your blog, and is the perfect way to skyrocket your blog traffic!