Three tools to help your links look great on Facebook
To get engagement on Facebook these days you need your links to look great. That means having a lovely image that is:
- Correctly sized
- Has a good title…
- … and an enticing description.
Having all this in place means that when you share your link on your own business page it looks good, but — perhaps more importantly — when someone else shares your link with their friends and followers you can be confident that the right information and image will pop up.
So here are a few useful tools to help you get those links looking good!
1. Facebook Debugger
Hello Facebook debugger, how much do I love you? I only found this tool relatively recently and it has definitely helped me improve my links (new and old) on Facebook. Essentially all this tool does is gets Facebook to re-cache your link. Yep, you are telling Facebook something has changed and they need to come back and crawl your site again.
I use this for nearly every link I put in the news feed that points to my own blog. It’s guaranteed that when you think you’ve entirely finished your blog post, when you’ve edited, tagged, checked links, crafted an image and done SEO optimisation and finally hit the publish button … that’s when you put the link into Facebook and something doesn’t look quite right. Before the FB debugger I would have had to live with the not-quite-right snapshot that Facebook had already captured of my link.
But now, instead of just letting it go I return to my post, make the changes and then go drop the link into FB debugger and get them to crawl the link again. Sometimes it takes a few hits of the debug button but it always results in a refresh of the information.
Equally you might have made changes to an old post by adding a new image or changing the title. If this is the case you will want FB to go back and refresh what they have cached for that link before you share it again – another job for the debugger!
2. SEO for WordPress by Yoast
This is one for any WordPress users. If you have not already heard of the plugin WordPress SEO by Yoast then go and have a look. It is a great tool to help you enhance your SEO efforts by focusing on a keyword and guiding you to use it in the appropriate parts of your HTML page. I mention it today, however, as it also has a “social” tab that specifically addresses the needs of Facebook. On this tab you get to stipulate the title, description and image that Facebook will scrape from the page and display in everyone’s Facebook timeline.
When choosing an image to go along with a link, Facebook looks at the Open Graph tags for a page, specifically the og:image tag, which specifies the image that Facebook should use. This tag is what WordPress SEO adds to your page.
We know that not all images are displayed equally on Facebook (as shown by the examples above) and this is why the WordPress SEO functionality is so useful, as you have an option to upload an image JUST for Facebook use and not interfere with how your blog post looks. The area that a link image gets displayed in ends up being 470 x 246 pixels (roughly a 2:1 ratio). If you are creating an image to be used in the og:image tag for your link, keep in mind that any images that are taller than 2:1 will be cropped from the top and bottom in order to fit.
Additionally, if the post you share does not have the proper og:image tags included or the image is not big enough, Facebook will not display it at full width. A thumbnail image will be placed in a small box to the left of the link text — scaled and cropped to fit a 158 x 158-pixel square — not great for engagement. In some cases, very tall images (like infographics) will have 158-pixel width and 237-pixel height – which can still have reduced impact but it depends on what the image is.
So, what should you do?
There are a number of things to think about when choosing an image for Facebook to share. Ideally when you are creating images for Facebook an image that is 1024 x 512 (while not fitting the dimensions perfectly) is high quality enough to look great on retina displays (where the pixel density is greater) and large enough to span the full width of the News Feed.
If you have a tall image then it can be a good idea to crop it down so it fits the 2:1 ratio a little better. This does not mean you have to wildly reduce the width, but slicing some of the image off the height will help it fall into the 2:1 ratio.
If you are working with the image just for Facebook use ensure you properly label and upload it to the WordPress image library so it can be used in the Facebook image field on the social tab.
As you can see getting the image right might take some mucking around and this is when your FB debugger tool comes in handy. Try the link in Facebook without posting it and if it doesn’t look right, make adjustments and get Facebook to re-crawl the page. Easy!
If you have decided to take the “create an image just for Facebook path” then a fabulous tool to use for this is Canva (disclaimer: my husband works at Canva). If you haven’t used it yet Canva is a free tool that allows you to create designs for pretty much anything your heart desires, including blog graphics, presentations, ebooks, flyers, business cards, invitations and of course Facebook.
On Canva there is a ready to go Facebook template but this size is optimal for images added to status updates not link post images pulled from the og:image tag. So the trick is to choose the Twitter post size (1024 x 512) which conveniently works well for Twitter as well. This ready to go template size includes a whole swag of inspiring ideas you can use or change to suit your aesthetics. Canva also has an image, font and design library ready for you to use, or you can upload your own images for use.
You may be wondering why you would want to spend time creating an image just for Facebook. Why not use the one already in your post? Aside from the image size issues (discussed above) the context and environment of Facebook can mean that a different image would get more attention than one that works perfectly well on your blog (or perhaps your blog post does not even require an image). Maybe one with text on it highlighting the heading again or one that highlights a controversial or funny point in the content will be far better at getting engagement. You can also create new images for old posts that you want to recycle by drawing attention to a different aspect of the post or just reinvigorating the energy around it with an image no one has seen.
I hope these tools help you create better Facebook links and help you spread your message to the world. I am always happy to chat about all things Facebook so send me an email or I would love for you to comment below.