February 9, 2017
Have you ever attempted to share your URL links to Facebook, only to get a post that doesn’t show your image, description, or link after you publish? Sometimes, this can happen because you recently made a major change to your theme, updated your titles and tags, or you have a brand new website that Facebook doesn’t recognize. By using and caching certain Open Graph properties on your website, Facebook is able to crawl that information, dump their old cache on your website, and automatically update that content so it shows exactly what you want it to show when your links are shared.
Facebook has a tendency to keep records of everything that comes through their servers. This is called caching. Caching is defined as, “storing away in hiding for future use”. Understanding what caching is should help you understand why it can be important for you to force Facebook to scrape your URL’s so they’re showing correctly in shared posts. (Especially if you have a brand new website or just made a big change to your existing one.)
Facebook developed their own online tool that essentially forces them to clear their cache on your links and replace it with cache that is more up-to-date, using your Open Graph properties. The tool that Facebook has is called Sharing Debugger and can be used as often as you need to use it! It’s a free tool and all you have to do it type in your URL link and click “Debug” to get the results for your URL. (See the image below.)
One really fantastic thing that Facebook provides you with this tool is a bar that explains any errors they found while they scrubbed your link, and how they suggest you to fix it. I’ve taken full advantage of that little toolbar so often! A tiny little Google search including the errors that were found and I can almost always find instructions telling me how to correct any errors.
Also, if you click on the Show All Raw Tags button it will expand and show you what meta data it’s reading to fill in these Open Graph properties. Finding this information can be helpful when you need to figure out what’s missing. When expanded, it looks like a string of scary code and if you’re not used to knowing what to look for it can be a little daunting. Here’s mine.
Search engines find this data important as well! There are multiple locations you can copy and past this code into your website, but this location depends on what kind of website you are operating. I have a ShowIt 5 website platform which requires me to paste this code into the Advance Settings section of my HTML header box. (Please note that my code will be different than yours will be! Do NOT copy and paste what you see here to use on your website. Keep reading!! I’ll show you how you can find your own code.)
If you have a Squarespace website this code would need to be pasted inside of your header by going to SETTINGS > ADVANCED > CODE INJECTION Header box.
If you have a WordPress website, consider downloading the plugin called Insert Headers and Footers. After you download the plugin and activate it, you have a SUPER easy way to inject code into your WordPress website without having to access and mess with any .php pages. YAY! All you have to do is go to SETTINGS > INSERT HEADERS AND FOOTERS and paste the code into the head section box.
Now that you know WHERE to place your code, let’s go to a location on the web where you can actually GET your code. View this short video how-to walking you through where you can go and create your meta tags HTML code for your websites.
Now that you have your meta data code copied into your clipboard, head back over to your website and place your HTML code in the proper place. Save your changes, and refresh your page. Head back to Facebook Debugger and run another test on your URL. BAM! You should now be seeing your updates to your images, your titles, your description, and your Raw Tags should also be showing your code that you pasted into your website.
If you have any questions at all about Facebook Debugger, Schema, or your meta data please comment below! I’m an open book and I’m here to help!