Have you made it easy for visitors to share elements from your website to social media? Have you neglected to perform an audit of your website to ensure social sharing functionality? This post discusses the benefits of social meta tags, like increased link mentions, and how to make the most of them. But first, let’s dive into what social meta tags are exactly.
What Are Social Meta Tags?
Social meta tags allow website owners to have some control over what content shows up when a web page is shared on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Social meta tags, also commonly referred to as open graph meta tags, rely on the Open Graph Protocol. Open Graph Protocol is a set of rules utilized to create rich objects on a web page for a social graph and builds upon existing technology to provide developers with more flexibility. In simpler terms, when social meta tags are implemented on a website, they act as a set of instructions detailing what exact image, video, title, url etc. should be shown when shared on social media.
Example of an image shared on Facebook:
What open graph protocol looks like in the code portion of a web page:
If Open Graph meta tags are correctly defined, crawlers will not have to rely on their own analysis to determine what content is to be shared. For example, when you do not define social meta tags many social media platforms will determine a default image for you — but is the image best suited to represent your website? Perhaps not.
Common Meta Tags Implemented
- og:title – The title of the page as it should appear when displayed on social media platforms.
- og:description – This is the 1-2 sentence snippet or preview text that shows up in the post.
- og:type – The category type the content falls into (blog, article etc.).
- og:image – The preferred image to be used when content for a web page is shared on social media. Images must be either PNG, JPEG or GIF formats and a size that meets the social media platforms standards (this varies by platform).
- og:url – This is the URL (link) associated with your content.
Resources for Previewing and Testing Social Meta Tags
Thankfully there are many resources out there that allow for previewing of social meta tags. Chrome offers a Open Graph Preview extension that shows how people will see your site or web pages on popular social networks. This preview extension gives you the ability to test and troubleshoot your open graph markup before pages are socially shared.
Other helpful testing tools:
Use Social Meta Tags, It’s Important
Don’t leave it up to a bot to decipher what image or description accurately represents your content and your business. Instead, invest a small amount of time in implementing Open Graph Protocol. In addition to having more control over the image (and other details) when someone shares your website on social media platforms, optimized images lead to increased link mentions. Provide your potential customers with high quality images and content that effectively represents your business — and that will lead them to share your products or services with their robust social network.