You may have noticed how good your Facebook link previews look when you place a link into a Facebook post. On top of that, if you do not like what is showing up, you can change it. Well not for long.Facebook’s new link previews are coming.
Open Graph Meta Tags, as they are called, are changing. And if you want to keep your Facebook posts looking sharp, you need to know why.
What are Open Graph Meta Tags?
Open Graph Meta Tags are defined as “enabling any web page to become a rich object in a social graph”.
“What..?!” – I hear you cry.
In the simplest possible format, it turns your links from boring text only links, into visual links with images, title text, and your page’s meta description. So in essence, it turns this:
Now do you get it? Open Graph Meta Tags (OG Tags) is what is behind the visualisation of your Facebook links.
Facebook do this to make your posts more engaging. People are more likely to click on an image than just text. Text gets lost. So Facebook generate an awesome looking card to show off a small preview of the page the link is associated with. It includes an image, a title, and a description.
Up until now you will have been able to change every part of this link preview. Which in a way is great. However if you think about, so can anyone else. Facebook have been working hard on cracking down on fake news, and according to MeetEdgar, this is all part of it. Imagine – If someone was to share your link in the current context, they could totally change its link preview. In essence this could misinterpret what your page is all about. Not good!
So the Facebook is changing how they interpret Open Graph Meta Tags. And you need to know how this will now generate Facebook’s new link previews.
Facebook are essentially stopping people from changing the link previews. It really is as simple as that. So you need to know how to stay in control of Facebook’s new link previews.
Staying in control of Facebook’s new Link Previews
We specialise in building WordPress websites, so anything we recommend here is geared towards WordPress sites. However all Open Graph Tags are, are sections of code on your website. If you need help implementing them or changing them on a non-WordPress website, we might be able to help. Click to contact the team and if it is something we can implement, we will tell you.
If you have a WordPress website, staying in control of your Facebook link previews couldn’t be easier. You don’t even need to touch the code.
Generating your image
The image is picked up automatically from the “featured image” section on any page or post. By uploading an image into your “featured image”, Facebook will be able to pick up the image you think best represents your page or blog post. Previously, you may have left the featured image blank. Especially on your website pages. However with these recent changes, I would recommend you start to use an image as a “featured image”. The dimensions of Facebook link previews are 1200px x 628px. So try and upload something to this size. Otherwise your link might not look as it should.
Changing the title and description
Facebook picks this up from the title and meta description of the page or post you are sharing. Without touching a single bit of code, you could easily install an SEO plugin; we use Yoast. There are however plenty out there. By changing the title element and the meta description in Yoast, you will be able control how your new link previews look in Facebook.
There you have it…
So now you know. Facebook’s new link previews are coming into force in mid July (2017) and are aimed at stopping fake news, and ensuring a higher level of trust across shared links on Facebook. It means that only YOU have control over how your link will look. And I for one think it is a good thing.
Author: Dave Williams
Dave Williams is the founder and director of onefoursix; a digital marketing agency based in Northampton. After setting up onefoursix in 2011, Dave has gone on to grow it to one of Northampton’s finest agencies. His expertise include social media, user experience and SEO.
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