Black Hat Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to tactics that are used to get higher search rankings in an unethical manner. Black Hat News Feed Optimization (NFO) is the same thing, but for Facebook. Instead of gaming a search engine's algorithm, many businesses try to game Facebook's Edgerank algorithm in order to increase their Page's stories visibility in the News Feed.
For the uninitiated, every action your Facebook friends take is a potential News Feed story. Facebook calls these actions "Edges" and since the News Feed can't show all of them, Facebook developed the Edgerank algorithm to predict how interesting each potential story will be to each user. Once that's done, Facebook filters each user's News Feed to only show the top-ranked stories for that particular user.
The White Hat method of increasing the visibility of your story in the News Feed is to post quality content that encourages users to interact with the post. The Black Hat way consists of creating fake Facebook accounts that Like your Page, as well as Like and comment on your Page's stories. This works rather well to increase your Edgerank, since the more interactions on your stories, especially during the first hour after they have been published, the higher the likelihood they will show up in the News Feed.
While this works, Wise Metrics says you shouldn't do it. The Facebook analytics firm lists five reasons why:
- It's unethical. You're winning not because you're posting quality content but because you're cheating.
- It's risky. One day or another, someone will find that some of your fans are fakes. The resulting PR crisis may damage your brand for a long time.
- Facebook may crush you. It's against Facebook Terms of Services to create fake profiles. Facebook doesn't hesitate to remove Pages that don't follow their rules.
- It's a short term strategy anyway. Facebook has access to all the profiles and all the interactions. Devising an algorithm that will identify fake profiles should be a task at hand for Facebook's data scientists.
- You don't learn. As your success is fabricated it is difficult to distinguish what has worked and what didn't.
Don't say I didn't warn you!
- Facebook starts displaying ads in the News Feed
- Facebook adds Recent Stories First option to News Feed
- Facebook rolls out revamped News Feed with Ticker
- Facebook allowing ads into the Ticker, its second News Feed
- Facebook rolls out the Ticker to more users
- Facebook moves privacy controls inline, simplifies sharing