There are four types of Facebook posts: text-only, photo, video, and link.
While all four are valuable to brands, links are what take users to websites. And websites are where people buy things.
Putting a URL into a status bar on Facebook will generate a link preview, which displays a photo, headline, and description of the web page.
Link previews are a great way for people to get an idea of what lies beyond a click, but they don’t just magically appear. Facebook crawls the webpage that the link leads to and generates a preview based on what it finds.
Do you have your own website? Do you want people to click your link instead of scrolling past?
Knowing and understanding how to customize a link preview could be the difference between a click and a scroll.
Open Graph Protocol
Open Graph protocol gives web pages the ability to become “rich objects” on social media.
Basically, that means you can insert metadata into the backend of your webpage, that identifies the image, headline, and description you want Facebook to use when it generates a link preview.
Visiting the Open Graph website will provide detailed instructions on how to properly apply the correct tags.
Fortunately, if you use WordPress to manage your website, there’s a free plugin that make it very easy.
Yoast SEO Plug-In
For those with a WordPress site, if you haven’t already downloaded the Yoast SEO plug-in, stop reading this blog immediately and head here.
Yoast SEO provides incredibly valuable tools for content creators. Its main feature is a stoplight grade of your post’s SEO based on keyword choice and readability.
The plug-in also allows you to completely control the fate of your link preview.
After you’ve downloaded and activated the plugin, you’ll see a new box towards the bottom of the page.
The ‘Social’ tab in that box gives you complete control of what title, description, and image Facebook pulls for your link preview. Uploading a correctly-sized, 1200 x 630px image and putting an article summary in the description is especially important. If you opt not to go through with these steps, Facebook will put the first two sentences of the article in the description and smash whatever image it can find into the link preview box.
So now you’ve manually added your Open Graph tags or Yoast SEO information. Great job!
However, you may come across a situation where your link preview still looks awful or doesn’t use your designated image or information.
What did you do wrong? It could have been an error on your part, but Facebook could also be using old information it has stored. If that’s the case you need to manually tell Facebook to fetch new data. Fortunately, Facebook has a little tool called the Facebook Debugger that allows you to do this pretty easily.
Uploading your URL will allow you to see the preview that Facebook currently has stored for your page. Clicking the ‘scrape again’ button will ask Facebook to crawl your website and update the information.
If you’ve just updated your site, you may need to wait a few minutes or click the button multiple times before Facebook will load an updated link preview.
This tool is handy if you are posting links with updated images that you’ve shared before.
Or you can build your own preview. But beware.
Business pages on Facebook have a special tool at their disposal: they can build a link preview from scratch.
That’s right, insert any link on your page and you can insert your own title, description, and image. Pretty nifty, huh? Why would you ever go through the trouble of all the stuff above when you can customize the link on Facebook?
Well, Facebook users can’t customize link previews, nor should they have to. Sure, you can fix your own bad link preview if you share it, but someone else sharing your content will be stuck with the junky display.
A user sharing your content in their own post is quite the honor for most brands. You don’t want them to regret it so take the time to make sure your link preview looks good for everyone.