Is the Like Button Hurting Your Stats?

The Facebook Like button may be inflating your web statistics.

Ok, that doesn't sound so bad. So how about this:

The Facebook Like button may be destroying your search engine optimization.

Now that I've got your attention, I'll continue...

I recently had a client ask why their stats showed content with "?fbxdfragment=" at the end.

It only appeared on pages with the Like button. So, my first thought was "It's probably just a page refresh after someone hits the Like button. But, I should research to be sure."

I had the right idea. But only skimmed the surface of the true issue. It takes a bit to get all the details, but here's the gist:

  • Facebook was actually loading their pages multiple times with each Like.
  • Even worse, when it loads the page with "?fbxdfragment=" at the end, the Like widget forces the page to appear blank. While this shouldn't show to the user, search engines may index it because the content is still there.
  • Blank pages may get served to visitors from search engines, bad for SEO and bad for business.
  • The web servers are handling a lot of overhead due to a ton of phantom hits.
  • Web statistics are incorrect: pageviews will be inflated and time on page will decrease

This is crap! What do we do about it?

You need to fix it immediately. While Facebook has openly refused to fix the issue, there are a bunch of how-to articles and forum posts. But none accurately describe the problem and most have you just hide the "fbxdfragment" portion of the URL. That is incorrect because it does not fix your inflated pageviews or depressed time on site.

It looks like Facebook released a HTML5 version of the Like Button. The code is different than before. So, I'm hoping it will solve the problem. We have implemented it and will monitor our statistics.

For now, I would suggest updating your code, WordPress plugin, or contact your developer to be sure you're up to date.

Written on September 14, 2011 by Kevin

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