Our WordPress SEO plugin handles optimization of your WordPress site for search engines and we dare say it does a very good job of it. Most of that is technical optimization, like our XML sitemap functionality and aids in content optimization, like your page analysis function. But there’s more to SEO than that. You need links pointing to your website and for that to happen, people need to talk about you and your website. That is the essence of social media, so our plugin helps you optimize for that.
There’s been a Social menu in the SEO plugin for quite a while, high time we explain to you what it does an what you should do when you’ve installed the plugin. We’ll focus on 3 different social networks:
As these are the biggest networks out there it’s what we’ll focus on, although there’s a note about Pinterest too.
Facebook’s OpenGraph is used by quite a few different social networks and search engines outside of Facebook itself, but obviously the main reason for adding it is for Facebook itself, the biggest social network on the planet. Facebook’s OpenGraph support is continuously evolving but the basics are simple: in a few pieces of metadata you declare:
- What type of content is this?
- What’s the locale?
- What’s the canonical URL of the page?
- What’s the name of the site and the title of the page?
- What is the page about?
- Which image / images should be shown next to the post on Facebook?
Recently, some stuff has been added to that, which we added in the update discussed in our previous post: a tag to relate the content to the author of the content on Facebook and a tag to relate the content to the publishers page on Facebook.
Most of the values above are filled out by the plugin by default based on other data it has. It uses the locale of your site, the site’s name, your SEO title, the canonical, the meta description value etc to fill most of the required OpenGraph tags.
So what do you need to do?
First of all, go to SEO → Social, the Facebook tab and make sure OpenGraph is enabled. Then decide to use either a person or an application as the “admin” of your site, as this will allow you to use Facebook Insights. Just click the appropriate button and follow the on-screen guidance which will take you to facebook.com. Next, enter your Facebook Page URL for your site or brand, as that will be connected to each post as the publisher.
The settings below that are for the Frontpage: which image should it use and what description should be used. Take some time and craft these, making sure the image is large enough (at least 200px x 200px).
Then, set a good default image. This will be used when you have a post or page that does not contain an image, so it can still be shared with maximal visibility. This image should also be at least 200px x 200px.
Lastly, go to your personal WordPress profile (just click on your name top right in the settings) and add a link to your Facebook profile if you want to associate your Facebook profile with your content. If you do, be sure to also enable the “Follow” functionality on Facebook.
As you can see, this is a few minutes work, after that, WordPress SEO takes all of the work out of your hands. If you want to “debug” how Facebook perceives your page, open up a URL in the Facebook Linter, this one for instance is for the Yoast.com homepage.
OpenGraph for Video Content
If you have video content, you would need to do more work, unless you’re using our Video SEO plugin, as that (starting with the latest release) will take care of all the needed meta data and thus allow you to properly share your videos on Facebook, even allowing for them to be played inline, which looks like this:
For Twitter, the functionality is quite similar to Facebook. The functionality is called Twitter Cards, and I’ve written about it before. For several of these values Twitter “falls back” to Facebook OpenGraph, so we don’t have to include everything, but it still is quite a bit. We’re talking about:
- the type of content / type of card
- an image
- a description
- the twitter account of the site / publisher
- the twitter account of the author
- the “name” for the domain to show in a Twitter card
For our recent post on conversion optimization, this card would look like this:
The title is taken from the SEO title you enter in the Yoast metabox, the description is taken from the meta description unless a specific description for Twitter is provided in the Social tab of the metabox. The image is the featured image of the post. This leaves two values for you to fill out in the settings:
- The site Twitter account, which you can fill out on the SEO → Social page under the Twitter tab;
- The author Twitter account, which he / she can enter on their individual WordPress profile page.
Google+ will take almost every value from OpenGraph that it needs, which makes all of this really easy. There’s a couple of steps for rel=”author” to work properly though: they need to fill out their Google+ profile URL in their profile settings and then link back from their Google+ profile to your site. This will make author highlights work and makes the article used above look like this in the search results:
There’s one other thing you need to do as a site owner: you need to make sure you connect your Google+ profile for your company. You can do this on the Google+ tab of the social page.
Checklist for new authors
To get the most of all of the settings you’ve just set up, make sure each (new) author on your site fills out the following on their WordPress profile:
- Facebook profile URL, make sure follow is enabled on their profile.
- Google+ URL.
- Twitter username.
Also make sure the author links back from his / her Google+ profile to your site or author highlighting will still not work.
A word on Pinterest
Pinterest’s recent introduction of Rich Pins allows for OpenGraph markup as well, which is something we’re enthusiastic about and are looking into. Expect some work from us with some of the bigger e-commerce plugins for WordPress out there.
This isn’t very hard to do, it just takes a few minutes of your time and you will “reap the benefits”. As these social networks add new features, we’ll keep our plugin and this article up-to-date, so be sure to update the plugin regularly.
Update Jun 27th: We just released an update to WordPress SEO that changes the design of the WordPress SEO Social settings page to a tab based design.