Are Open Graph Tags the Future of Social Media Marketing?
I’m sure many of you are familiar with meta tags for search engine optimization. For those of you who are not, they are basically a piece of code you place in the header of your site that tells Google what the page is about. But did you know that there are comparable tags for Facebook? Well there are… In this post we will cover what Facebook Open Graph tags are and why they are important for social media optimization.
According to Facebook, “Open Graph tags are
<meta> tags that you add to the
<head> of your website to describe the entity your page represents, whether it is a band, restaurant, blog, or something else.”
What do Facebook Open Graph Tags Look Like?
First off, the format for the Open Graph tag template looks like this:
<meta property=”og:tag name” content=”tag value”/>
Now, if you are going to use Open Graph tags on your site you will need to specify the following six tag values. This would go in the quotes at the end of the tag.
- og:title – The title of the entity.
- og:type – The type of entity. You must select a type from the list of Open Graph types. An example of this would be an athlete. The code would be implemented as follows: <meta property=”og:type” content=”athlete” />
- og:image – The URL to an image that represents the entity. Images must be at least 50 pixels by 50 pixels. Square images work best, but you are allowed to use images up to three times as wide as they are tall.
- og:url – The canonical, permanent URL of the page representing the entity. When you use Open Graph tags, the Like button posts a link to the og:url instead of the URL in the Like button code.
- og:site_name – A human-readable name for your site, e.g., “IMDb”.
- fb:admins or fb:app_id – A comma-separated list of either the Facebook IDs of page administrators or a Facebook Platform application ID. At a minimum, include only your own Facebook ID.
So this is a lot to take in, right? Take a deep breath; it is going to be OK. Let’s walk through this piece by piece.
What Content is right for Facebook Open Graph Tags?
First things first, what pages do this code need to go on? Well, it really only needs to go on the pages you are optimizing for sharing on Facebook. Naturally, these would be most all the pages on your blog. In addition, you would want to optimize any internal pages that could get social shares. The most important point is that this does not need to be implemented site-wide. It certainly can be implemented site-wide, but it does not have to be. Facebook open graph tags only need to be added to pages you want to be shared, and that you want to look good when they are shared.
Why are Facebook Open Graph Tags Important?
Again, I would like to reference meta tags for SEO. Just as meta tags allow you to specify what you would like your page to rank for in Google, Facebook Open Graph tags allow you to specify how Facebook interprets your page. This is critical for optimal social media sharing. Let’s talk about this one on a piece by piece basis. In the following bullet points we will reference each Open Graph tag and provide a little information on why it is important for social media sharing.
If you do not specify your title via a Facebook open graph tag then Facebook will grab the meta title of the page. This can be an issue because sometimes meta titles are SEO focused, opposed to focused on social media optimization or viral content sharing. So, if the title of your content differs (the H1) from your meta title and you want a more sharing-friendly title to show, the og:title is a good option. The og:title value will allow you to specify the title of the page you are sharing on Facebook and will act as an SEO meta title does in Google, except for Facebook, simple as that.
Open Graph type is a really interesting one. I am speculating that this will become much more important down the road for Facebook search optimization. As of right now you can search by People, Pages, Groups, Apps, Events, Web Results, Posts by Friends and Posts by Everyone on Facebook; og:type allows you to help Facebook determine where your page should display in Facebook search. We will be delivering a full post on Facebook type optimization soon.
This one is short and sweet. og:image allows you to specify the image you would like Facebook to display next to the posted content. Facebook commonly will not display an image or feature an incorrect image. This code helps us address this.
Just like Google offers the canonical URL specification, so does Facebook. This is really critical. Imagine you have three pieces of the same content:
If each of these pieces of content is shared separately then they can all get their own likes! This is a serious issue from a link building and social media authority building perspective! We want one piece of content to get a lot of likes, not three different URLs with exactly the same content to get a few likes each. That is just confusing for everyone, right? So this tag allows you to specify the correct URL when you have duplicate content.
This one is pretty straight forward. Make sure to give your site a name such as SEO Inc.
fb:admins or fb:app_id
This Facebook Open graph tag allows you to associate a Facebook ID with a piece of content. This allows Facebook to associate content with a certain source. This could be vital if any reputation management or legal issues occur.
Facebook Open Graph tags can play a large role in the way your content is perceived by Facebook and the amount of shares your content receives. In addition, they can also affect the quality of your Facebook shares from an SEO perspective. Make sure you take a hard look at the way your content is being shared on Facebook. It may not only affect the success of your brand on Facebook, it could also play a role in your Google search results.