How to Get Facebook, Twitter, & Google+ to Pull the Correct Image
For a while, every time I tried posting an image from my blog onto Google+ or Facebook, it would pull up my header image or some random image in a post. Fortunately, Twitter usually got it right. Good on you, Twitter. However, sometimes Google+ would NOT pull up my blog post’s main image and Facebook would almost always mess it up.
This seriously drove me up a wall… and if you’re reading this, chances are it’s driving you nuts too. That’s okay, I’ve discovered the reason and the fix.
Why the folks (errr machines) at Facebook, Google, & Twitter pull up the wrong image
When you post a link to Google+, they try to do some programming magic on your URL and try to figure out which picture is relevant to your link. If you don’t have something specifically telling Google+, “Hey, this image over here is important,” Google will select a large image in your post or just opt for your header. Thanks, Google. Facebook and Twitter operate very similarly.
So how do you specifically tell Google what they need to be looking for? Metadata. Yeah, eww, right? All three social media platforms use metadata to figure out which picture on your blog post is the most important. There are several tags, not just image tags, that help social media sites pull information from your blog post. For Facebook you’ll need:
Facebook Open Graph Code
<meta property="og:type" content="article" /> <meta property="og:title" content="TITLE OF YOUR BLOG POST"> <meta property="og:url" content="http://your-blog.com/a-blog-post/" /> <meta property="og:description" content="An interesting post about something" /> <meta property="article:published_time" content="Date your blog post was first published" /> <meta property="article:modified_time" content="Date your blog post was last edited" /> <meta property="article:author" content="Jane Doe" /> <meta property="og:site_name" content="Awesome Website" /> <meta property="og:image" content="http://your-blog.com/your_post_image.png" />
This is the metadata you’ll need to make things kosher on Twitter
<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image" /> <meta name="twitter:site" content="@site_twitter_handle" /> <meta name="twitter:title" content="Page Title" /> <meta name="twitter:description" content="Page Description" /> <meta name="twitter:creator" content="@author_twitter_handle" />
The data that Google+ needs:
Get the correct image on Google+ with this data
<meta itemprop="name" content="Your Post Title Here"> <meta itemprop="description" content="This is a description of your post"> <meta itemprop="image" content="http://your-blog.com/image.png">
Setting up metadata on your WordPress blog
There are three plug-ins that will take care of this for you. You can pick and choose which ones you want.
Jetpack is an incredibly popular plugin for WordPress that does a whole lot more than deal with your image problem on social media sites. It connects you to the WordPress cloud, gives you stats, and a ton of helpful widgets. When it comes to metadata, it has you covered with Facebook and Twitter. I would recommend this one over Yoast (although I use both for different reasons.)
Itemprop WP for SERP (and SEO) Rich Snippets
This is the plugin for Google+. It’s really lightweight and seriously does wonders when it comes to getting your images all fancy in Google+ markup. I really wouldn’t use any other plugin for Google+ on my blog.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
Yoast is an all in one SEO plugin that does quite a bit more than add metadata. I love this plugin and recommend it for any blogger who wants to make sure their blog is search engine friendly. On the metadata side of things, Yoast takes great care of the Facebook front. Twitter and Google+ support are essentially non-existent on Yoast. This is a fairly heavy plugin, so if you’re not into the SEO functionality, I’d go for Jetpack instead since Jetpack has you covered with Twitter and Facebook.
Troubleshooting your metadata
Last but not least, there are some handy ways to find out exactly what’s wrong with your blog post: why it’s not rendering properly on social media sites. Each social media site has its own debugger that you can use to find out what meta tags you’re leaving out or what’s going down on your blog that’s making unexpected things happen.