Have you ever been scrolling through social media and get super annoyed when a friend or colleague posts a link and it looks terrible?
The photo is awkwardly cropped, the page description is gibberish, and the title seems generic and lacking any sort of intention.
What about the links you see that are doing well, or even going viral?
They offer a genuine preview of the article. The image is relevant and fits within your news feed like it’s supposed to. It’s magic.
Many of my clients don’t realize that you have control over what this preview looks like. You can manipulate the content in order to make it perform better. When I set up a new website, I work with my clients to optimize their existing content and guide them on how to optimize their future content.
Since this is something they’ve found helpful, I thought I’d show you how to optimize your WordPress site for social media sharing.
Installing Yoast SEO
To begin, you’ll want to install the Yoast SEO plugin. It’s free and offers some great tools for search engine optimization as well as social media sharing.
Once installed, Yoast SEO adds a meta box at the bottom of each of your posts and pages, allowing you to edit the page title, description, and keyword for that piece of content. This is also where we’ll be working to optimize the content’s appearance on social media.
Optimizing for Facebook
Click on the Facebook icon to see the setting we’ll be adjusting.
Where it says “Facebook Title” enter a captivating and engaging headline.
Writing good headlines is an art form and requires practice. Fortunately, there are tools and resources like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer which can help guide you to writing headlines that engage and convert well.
In the “Facebook description” field, write an interesting preview of what visitors can expect to read on this post or page. It doesn’t have to go into extreme detail, but you want it to be captivating enough to persuade the reader to click.
Once you have a solid headline and description written, you can work on optimizing an image for Facebook.
WordPress already includes a featured image for each piece of content. I recommend using this on both posts and pages, so you at least have a fallback image for social media to use. But in order to receive the most engagement on your posts, this image should be custom to your content.
Sprout Social has a great article on the ideal image sizes for various platforms. For this particular image field, we’ll want an image that is at least 470 x 246 pixels, but preferably 1,200 x 627 pixels in size. I recommend creating a template in Canva or Photoshop that you can come back for each new post. (This will also keep your graphics consistent and on-brand.)
Once you have all of these fields filled out, it’s time to test our tweaks. (Don’t forget to save your changes by clicking the blue “Update” or “Publish” button in the upper right-hand corner of the WordPress page.
Copy the URL for this blog post by either highlight and copying the permalink setting from the dashboard or by viewing your post, and highlighting the URL in your browser window.
Next, go to the Facebook Debugger Tool, and paste your URL into the field under Sharing Debugger.
Facebook will do a quick little check and scrape your site, looking to see if the fields we filled out are supplied. If not, it will try to be intelligent and grab your SEO title and description, or the original blog post title and default WordPress excerpt. It wants things to look nice, but we’re just giving ourselves more control here.
If the information the debugger provides isn’t what you entered. Try clicking the “Scrape Again” button. This will tell Facebook to get rid of what it’s seen in the past and pull any new information that has been added.
Take a look at the updated preview. Does it look appealing to you? Has the photo been cut off in a strange way? Does the headline read correctly and invites the reader to click through? If so, time to move on to Twitter optimizations. If not, go back to your WordPress site, and continue tweaking until you’re happy with the preview.
Optimizing for Twitter
We’re going to follow the same process for optimizing our post for Twitter now, with a few small changes.
Click the Twitter icon within the Yoast SEO meta box. You’ll be presented with the same fields for the Facebook settings. These can hold the same info, or you can try experimenting with a different headline or tweaked post description.
The biggest change is going to be the image size. Optimizing for Twitter, you have two options – a Summary card or a Summary card with a large image. I prefer the large image because research shows images have more engagement. You can choose which option to use within your sitewide Yoast settings.
For summary cards with a large image, Agora Pulse recommends images of at least 280 x 150 pixels or an aspect ratio of 1.867:1. They have a maximum photo size of 1MB, so don’t go too big.
Normal summary cards have a recommendation of 120 x 120 pixels or a 1:1 ratio.
Once you have these settings how you’d like, it’s time to test it in Twitter’s Card Validator.
In the same way that you tweaked your Facebook info, continue tweaking until you’re happy with your Twitter settings.
Optimizing for Pinterest
Yoast SEO is great for handling Facebook and Twitter, but what about Pinterest?
To optimize your site for sharing on Pinterest, I recommend installing the jQuery Pin It Button for Images plugin.
This plugin adds a graphic to your website images that allow visitors to easily pin an image without needing the browser extension installed.
Once installed, you’ll find the settings for this plugin under “Settings” in your dashboard sidebar. This is where you can set a custom graphic to display on your images, encouraging people to pin your content. I personally like images that look like buttons, but come up with something that fits your brand!
Next, we want to tweak the text that will appear with your photo when someone pins it. This is important because it’s how you’ll help drive traffic back to your website. What the image pulls will be based on your individual settings, pictured above. I usually set it to the image title and description, as these are fields I can edit as I’m uploading the images.
Now that the plugin knows where to look for the information, we need to edit it. Head to your Media Library, and start going through your images, optimizing the images used throughout your site for Pinterest.
Once you have a few entered, test it out by looking at one of your blog posts and clicking the “pin it” button on an image. Does it pull in the information you’ve added? If so, you’re all done! If not, keep tweaking until you have it how you’d like it to look.
The next part might be the hardest – remembering to do this for each piece of content you create in the future. It’s a lot of work when you’re doing all your content at once. I find that by including these steps within my blog post workflow, that I can optimize things quickly and it’s not overwhelming. And like I mentioned before, use templates where you can. They’ll make life a hell of a lot easier.
If you get stuck at any point in this process or need help installing one of the plugins, don’t hesitate to reach out and let me know.