The million dollar question! Well, in some ways, we think that optimizing for Facebook Instant Articles could affect the website SEO of every publisher, ultimately for the better. And here is how:
1. The publisher will have to publish more content.
Any publisher, whether it is a media outlet, business or some individual will have to get more serious about publishing more content. The approach for one post every month will no longer fly if you want to get serious about Instant Articles.
So, this is a positive effect on SEO.
2. Publishers will have to get more serious about the content formatting.
Those publishers that were not paying particular attention to the specific formatting elements in the articles they post will start to if they plan on getting into Instant Articles. Facebook will also look for headers (H1 for the title and H2 for the subtitles), image and video, as well as captions, author attribution and some related article links for the Instant Articles.
All of these above mentioned are beneficial for SEO. You just need to make sure to keyword optimize article titles, subtitles, and captions.
By giving proper credit, you will have the ability to potentially gain some organic search traffic when people are searching for those authors by name.
3. Publishers will start experimenting with different media.
Besides the boost in performance, one of the major highlights of Instant Articles is the ability of the publishers to create some rich media experiences with content. Facebook is supporting images, video, animated GIFs, audio annotations, interactive images, maps, and slideshows.
Considerably, this will warm publisher up to the idea that creating more diverse content for their audience. In such way, publishers can expand their reach by distributing different media to networks which are based on the type of the media.
The prime targets could be Imgur, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, SlideShare, iTunes, Soundcloud, and a lot of others, most of which will allow you to go back to the original article as the source of the media. In that way, you will gain additional SEO value.
4. Publishers will also have to clean up their code.
To ensure that Facebook Instant Articles work, either in their template of the website of their RSS feed, additionally, publishers will have to clean a good bit of their coding. Cleaning their code will make it easier for them to search engine crawlers to do their jobs.
Honestly, if HTML coding did not matter to Google, then they wouldn’t have provided a free HTML improvements tool inside their Search Console.
5. Every person will have to improve their mobile performance.
Besides Facebook Instant Articles and Google AMP, every website and not just publishers will have to improve their mobile performance. But why? Because, it is simply the nature of humans and it goes like this:
People will start adapting to the mobile-friendly, high-performance of Facebook Instant Articles.
After that, they will expect every website they load on their smartphones to have the same mobile-friendliness and high-performance as well. This will be particularly true for sites which are linked to within Facebook Instant Articles.
But, if they don’t open to a mobile-friendly experience at high-performance, you can be sure that this spoiled audience will leave.
Those websites that optimize for mobile friendliness and high performance will be better in search ranking, as Google wants to search for users who have great experiences on the sites that they click upon in the search results. It is evident that those websites that are mobile friendly will rank a good place in mobile search.
Google usually prefers responsive design, so in the mobile-friendly efforts, you should steer towards that. You can also use the free mobile usability tool of Google in Search Console, to see if the website has some mobile issues which could affect the mobile search rankings.