Pinterest is a pretty popular platform these days. It’s basically a search engine, with a social aspect. So, making your images appealing for sharing on Pinterest can be a great idea. And not just if you have a mom-blog or DIY site! If you use Pinterest right, it can help you drive more traffic to your site, put your products in the spotlight, or gain more visibility for your business.

Pinterest images often have a specific ‘look’. Tall images are most compatible with the way the Pinterest feed is designed. Some text in the image can also work well, to get people’s attention and give them an idea of where the image will lead them. While an image like this is well-suited for Pinterest, you probably don’t want to put it on your website like that. But you still want to provide people who pin your image straight from your post with a good Pinterest image. So, what to do? There are ways to use HTML code to hide a Pinterest image ‘underneath’ the regular images in your post. That way, people get the tall Pinterest image when they pin from your post. But, what does Google think about such practices?

Blake Score emailed us her question on the subject:

What is your opinion about hiding Pinterest sized images in your post with HTML code? Doing this makes for a strong pin when people pin to Pinterest straight from your post. It seems to work from a Pinterest SEO perspective, but what does Google think?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Hiding Pinterest images in your post

I honestly don’t think Google minds as much, but I hate all the hacks I’m seeing around how people get their proper pages on Pinterest. So, we are currently talking to Pinterest about improving that entire workflow. About maybe allowing for specific meta tags for Pinterest, so that we can just put an image like that in a meta-tag and not have to put it hidden in a page, which is a dirty hack and can always lead to problems in the long run.

Even better SEO with Yoast SEO Premium!

  • Optimize your site for the right keywords
  • Never a dead link in your site again
  • Previews for Twitter and Facebook
  • Get suggestions for links as you write
More info
So, for now it works. Keep doing it because it’s worth the traffic. In the long run, I hope we’ll come up with a better solution. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO dilemma you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to ask@yoast.com, and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: you may want to check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question could already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, please contact us through our support page.

Read on: Pinterest Marketing for your business »

The post Ask Yoast: Hiding images for Pinterest in your posts appeared first on Yoast.

Last week, I posted an article about the current status concerning Facebook traffic. I shared the fact that for Yoast.com, the Facebook referral traffic is decreasing. I also asked you all whether or not you noticed something similar and invited you to share your tactics to deal with such a decrease. You left lots and lots of interesting replies, so first of all, thank you for that! Most people noticed a decrease in Facebook traffic as well. Today, I’ll share three promising tactics that were shared in the comments.

Optimize for synonyms and related keywords and prevent broken pages on your site with Yoast SEO Premium! »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Facebook traffic is decreasing

The majority of the people who left a comment on my blog post also noticed a big drop in referral traffic from Facebook in the past few months. Quite some people left Facebook altogether. These people didn’t notice a drop in their traffic. Most people are less active on Facebook than they used to be, but they still use it. Also, three people responded that they didn’t notice any difference. Overall, it is safe to say that the large majority of people replying to my post did notice a significant drop in Facebook referral traffic. But what can you do about it?

Tips and tactics worth trying!

I found three tips and tactics when I was reading through the dozens of comments, and I believe that they are definitely worth trying. I am not at all sure to what extent these actually work. However, these are all things that we will be trying out on our own Facebook account in the near future. So perhaps they will be of use to you as well.

Tip 1:  Posts without external links

One of our readers suggested that Facebook posts that contain external links have far less reach than those with just text or posts with video’s or images. In her case, video (and especially live video), was performing the best.

Another reader suggested pretty much the same thing. He also added that a lively discussion on the Facebook-platform can pay off.

This could be a good approach, since Facebook likes it when people stay on Facebook, instead of clicking to another website. It could well be that Facebook treats posts without external links in it differently and that these are shown to more people. We’ll definitely try this one out!

Tip 2: Facebook groups

Several commenters pointed out that although Facebook referral traffic was going down, Facebook groups were still very active. Sharing posts in active groups does seem to be paying off. Time to get active in those groups! Perhaps we should start a Yoast group on Facebook?

Tip 3: Lengthy posts

One of our readers suggested writing longer posts. His experience was that lengthy Facebook posts performed much better than short posts.

This is easy to experiment with. Adding a bit more text to a post is not that hard. We’ll be experimenting with longer and shorter texts in our posts. I’ll keep you informed on the results of this tactic!

Conclusion

Although Facebook referral traffic is decreasing, there are some tactics we can use in order to get some of that traffic back. Perhaps investing in lengthy, well-written Facebook posts without external links will do the trick. You will not get those people to your site then, but your reach on Facebook will remain intact. That’s something to consider. We’re going to try out all three tactics we discussed in this post. We’ll keep you informed about our findings!

Read more: How to optimize your Facebook reach »

The post New tactics to improve your Facebook reach appeared first on Yoast.

Facebook is becoming less important as a source of traffic to your site. We wrote about it before, but mid August a lot of internet-sources reported that Facebook “did not care about publishers”. Joshua Benton wrote a nice and nuanced article about the matter, in which he also shared some interesting statistics. Facebook is indeed referring less and less to publishers. In this post, I’ll share what Yoast has noticed in decreasing traffic from Facebook, I’ll share my personal view on the matter and I’ll discuss our current strategy in dealing with it.

What have we noticed at Yoast

At Yoast, we’ve noticed our traffic from Facebook is going down. We share blogposts on our timeline and the number of visitors we attract to our website has halved in the past year-and-a-half. Overall, our traffic is going up though. We still notice a nice growth in organic search (which is a good thing, considering we’re selling SEO).

Optimize for synonyms and related keywords and prevent broken pages on your site with Yoast SEO Premium! »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Yoast, of course, isn’t a classic publisher, like an online newspaper or a online magazine. However, we use Facebook primarily to share our blogposts. So, I think Facebook pretty much treats us as a publisher. And indeed, we’ve seen our traffic going down.

My personal experience as a Facebook-addict

I am a Facebook user. I use it professionally, for my work at Yoast. Besides that, I am also in a few Facebook groups that give me information on WordPress and SEO. But most of all, I love catching up with friends and family through Facebook. I post pictures of my children and write little anecdotes about my life.

In the last few months, I’ve noticed a lot of people leaving Facebook, or spending far less time there. Some friends left a while ago because of the privacy issues. But others are leaving too. I notice lots of people are sharing less on their timelines. And I am also posting far less on my timeline myself. Some Facebook groups remain very active though. And lots of people aren’t really disappearing; many of them are joining Instagram.

If people are really leaving Facebook and turning to other social media platforms, traffic from Facebook will decrease even more. And if that happens, I’ll need to find another platform to share those amusing anecdotes about my life ;-).

What to do?

A while ago, I wrote a post on what to do if your traffic from Facebook is decreasing. Engaging content, personal accounts, working with influencers and advertising are all possibilities to increase your visibility on Facebook. These are valid options, which we’re working on as well. For Yoast, investing in other social media platforms is now also becoming a new very important strategy.

This week, I decided to put some genuine effort into the Yoast Instagram account. If Facebook indeed turns out to be on its way down, now is the time to dive into ‘new’ social media platforms. I’ve challenged myself to double the current amount of followers on Instagram before Christmas. I’m now experimenting with writing SEO tips in an Instagram Stories format. I really enjoy exploring new possibilities, but I am not a professional yet. If you would like to witness (and help with) my enthusiastic (and somewhat sad) attempts to double our followers, please follow the Yoast Instagram account.

What about you?

I am curious if you noticed anything different on your Facebook timeline (personal or professional) in the past six months? Are you a publisher of some sort? And I would also like to know what your tactic is. Are you focusing on different social media platforms? And which one? Or is Facebook still the most important one?

Read more: As Facebook’s algorithm changes, SEO becomes crucial »

The post Facebook traffic: What’s the current status? appeared first on Yoast.

I’ve always felt lucky blogging for Yoast.com. As I wrote before, I have an entire blog team that makes sure my post gets scheduled, is free of grammar or spelling errors and they publish it on social media. So I ‘only’ had to come up with an idea, which the team often helped me with, and type the post. I decided that if I ever were to outsource things on my own blog, it would be things like promotion and social media.

My struggle with social media

And then the inevitable happened. After I finished my previous post, I got a message: “Caroline, from now on, please write your own introduction for Facebook, Twitter, and the newsletter. Here’s some information for you. If you have any questions, let us know!” Hold on! Yes, I have questions! Starting with: “How do I do this?” and: “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to write short messages? There’s a reason I’m not active on Twitter!” And, so began my struggle, and search, for the ultimate social media messages.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Because truthfully, I’d rather type a 2000 word essay than one sentence for Facebook. When you’re reading this, I’ve already grabbed your attention. You’ve already made it down to this point in my post, which means that you want to read my message. On social media, I can’t spend over a hundred words to make my point. If I do, you might not click, you might scroll past my message and you’ll never see my post at all.

And that’s how I started my two-day research. Two days? Yes. I, of course, started rather late with this blog post and had almost no time to conduct proper research. So, all the information in this post is based on my common sense – and I’ll teach you how to use your common sense too! Oh, how amazing my job is. Truly. Well, apart from having to write my own social media messages now.

To click or not to click

When do you click on a Facebook message? When do you hit the like button? When do you leave a reply? And when do you take the effort to go to someone’s profile and visit their domain through Instagram if there’s a ‘link in bio’ message underneath a photo? Those questions were the most important for me the last few days, to figure out what the perfect message entails. To find the answer to these questions, you need to know who your audience is.

For my blog, that’s a rather easy answer: the goal audience for my blog is me! And people like me, of course. But, I started my blog because I love writing. I’m right in the middle of my audience: young mothers (and fathers, of course) who are struggling with parenthood and want reassurance that others are struggling too. I want people to laugh at my stories, but also to take their struggles and life a little less serious, in order to enjoy life more.

Experimenting on different platforms

While people who visit my blog always tell me I have a great sense of humor – except for my husband, he still claims I have no humor at all – my Facebook page didn’t reflect my blog at all and come to think of it, I didn’t even like Facebook.

I started experimenting on Instagram: my photos were more blunt, I used a lot of hashtags (thirty hashtags seems to be the maximum) and I treated Instagram as if I was talking to my best friend. Immediately, my engagement went up. People responded to my photos with more than just a heart, they actually left messages! I started to get to know my audience more and more, and then a few days ago I decided I’d use the same strategy on Facebook.

I took a notebook and wrote down when I was interested in a Facebook post from another company, and when I scrolled past. And, although this is personal (and not perfect) research, this works for me, since I am a reflection of my own audience. I made notes on the posts I clicked on: what was the message they wrote? What was the title of the post? Did the image appeal to me? And when did I decide not to click on a post?

I found out that I click the link if these three aspects: text, title, and photo of the post, appeal to me. There are messages I saw multiple times but I didn’t click them, because the Facebook image wasn’t appealing enough, or the leading text was too vague or didn’t catch my attention.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

SEO copywriting training Info

How to find your voice on social media

It’s important your social media reflects your website. If you write for solo travelers who are 20 years old, it’d be strange if your social media posts are more appealing to people who’d rather stay in and haven’t taken a vacation in the last 20 years. Just like you once found your voice for your blog, you need to find your voice on social media too. And you’ll have to experiment before you find it. Here’s how to experiment:

Realize that your social media are part of your brand

Facebook, Instagram, and other social media are extensions of your blog. Try to find the reason why you follow someone on Instagram, hit the like button on Facebook or retweet a message on Twitter. It’s probably because you feel connected to someone or to the brand. Those social media accounts should reflect the blog, in this case.

Write different introductions

By writing and rewriting your Facebook messages a few times, you will eventually find the voice that fits your brand. You can’t be as elaborate on Facebook or Instagram as you are on your blog. You need to catch people’s attention and get them to click that link to your website.

With Facebook, you can easily re-post a post that’s a couple of months old. Check which posts performed less: you can look that up on your Facebook page under ‘Statistics’. Check the accompanying message you wrote, try to rewrite them and see if you can gain more clicks.

It’s all about strategy

As much as you need a blog planning, you also need a social media planning and a strategy. If you post on Facebook only once a week, you probably won’t reach a lot of people. However, if you post once or twice a day, you’ll see your reach going up. Those posts don’t always have to be a link to your blog, especially not when you only blog every other day or once a week. Share images, ask questions, share links to other blogs in your niche or share quotes. Look at your competition and try to find a new angle to implement on your social media profiles.

Read more: How to use social media »

And now it’s time for me to write a nice introduction for social media so you’ll actually end up clicking and reading this message. Wish me luck. Oh and please drop your tips on me as well! You have no idea how much I learn from the comments you leave on my blog posts!

Keep reading: Social media strategy: where to begin? »

 

The post Writing great social media content for your blog appeared first on Yoast.

Nowadays, the majority of teens use YouTube and Instagram, instead of Facebook. And, websites are now attracting more traffic from Google – organic search – than from Facebook. Statistics aren’t looking that good for Facebook. Is Facebook getting less important for companies, blogs, and websites? And what should you do about it? In this post,  I’ll bring you up to speed on all the latest Facebook trends and help you to figure out how to act on it.

Free course! Learn what makes your site rank with our SEO for beginners training »

Free SEO course: SEO for beginners Info

What do the stats say?

Facebook and teenagers

According to the statistics of Pew Research, teenagers use YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat, while only half of the U.S. teens have a Facebook account. And only 10 percent of the teenagers say that Facebook is the social medium that they use most often. This in contrast to three years ago, when Facebook was the dominant social media for U.S. teenagers. Social media use of teenagers has changed rapidly, and not in favor of Facebook.

Facebook as a referral

According to Chartbeat, direct mobile traffic and traffic from Google search are now more important than referrals from Facebook on mobile devices. For some time, Facebook was the most important source of traffic. For publishers, bloggers and website owners, it was critical to be active on Facebook.

However, nowadays, Google search, a.k.a. organic traffic seems to become even more significant (on mobile devices). Focussing on SEO is (now more than ever) a critical part of your strategy!

How should you deal with these changes?

Facebook is still essential, and nobody knows how these trends will evolve. In a previous post, I wrote about Facebook’s algorithm; I already suggested a few ways to increase your traffic from Facebook. I think there are a lot of ways that’ll allow you to keep getting traffic from Facebook. That said, you cannot focus solely on Facebook to get that traffic to your website. That’s why I will suggest some other alternative strategies you should check out.

Invest in Instagram and Snapchat

Do you already have Instagram and Snapchat accounts? Instagram is rather straightforward: lots of pictures, short movies, and photos. Snapchat is a bit harder and the opportunities for companies are less obvious.

Perhaps you think that Instagram and Snapchat just don’t fit your business. And maybe you’re right. However, an entire generation is growing up using these tools. So, I think you should at least claim an account and get started. You can always ask your 14-year-old nephew to help you out.

YouTube

My twelve-year-old is almost physically attached to YouTube. He uses it as often as I use Google. He doesn’t understand why you would ever read texts when you can also watch videos. To appeal to a younger audience, creating video’s will probably be a really wise move. If your content allows for it, making video’s and optimizing these for YouTube could be a great way to attract an audience to your site.

Investing in video is hard. It may even be harder than writing content. It can also be slightly awkward to stand in front of a camera at first. Once you get the hang of it, it can also be good fun!

Stories

Last week, Techcrunch reported that stories are about to surpass feed sharing. A lot of social media platforms have incorporated stories in their features. It all began with Snapchat, but now you can share stories in WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram too. Even the AMP project now has stories for the web. People are sharing their stories and watching the stories of others, even those of media companies.

Stories require a different approach than standard post for social. And the engagement with posts (for instance comments) is entirely different. But stories also give an excellent opportunity to create new innovative content. I think, focussing on stories and trying to use stories for your business could be a fantastic strategy.

Ads on Facebook

Facebook seems to generate less traffic, but it appears that ads on Facebook are still doing well. According to the latest internet trends report by Mary Meeker, the click-through rate of ads on Facebook has almost tripled since 2016.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

SEO copywriting training Info

Advertising on Facebook isn’t all that expensive, and you can target your audience reasonably well. If you haven’t already, this is a strategy you should try out.

Keep your focus on SEO

Social media should always play an important role in your online strategy. But, focussing on your website: making sure that it has original and well-written content, that it’s fast and provides the best user experience, should be your priority. If your website has all these features, then you’ll attract traffic, from Google and other sources!

Read more: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

The post Is Facebook getting less important? appeared first on Yoast.

A little over a month ago I started looking at my Pinterest profile more seriously in regards to my blog. I didn’t use Pinterest for my blog yet and never even thought of pinning my blog posts to Pinterest. I used the website to keep my wishlist up to date and had tons of hidden boards full of inspiration for future projects that I would probably never do.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

SEO copywriting training Info

Facebook is my biggest source of traffic currently, but with Facebook’s announcement on the new algorithm, I want to rely less on Facebook. Or spread my traffic source at least. At the end of March, I received a newsletter from a blogger I follow. She claimed she receives over 15,000 visitors from Pinterest every month. She started blogging last year and hasn’t written a new blog post since January. Yet her blog is ever growing, and so is her bank account. 15k for a website that’s not regularly updated raised one main question with me: HOW?

We emailed for a while and she explained she started to treat Pinterest as a search engine instead of a social medium. People are not on Pinterest to see what their friends like, they are looking for a solution for a problem they have. The difference with Google? You have a personal feed when you open Pinterest. And it is visual.

Skepticism

I was skeptical. I don’t like promoting my website, due to my inner critic who thinks it’s necessary to tell me no one wants to read my blog posts and I should not be bothering them on Facebook or anywhere else. Also, I dislike scheduling my social media to promote my blog and I definitely do not like to make the graphics for my blog. I am a writer, but as a blogger you have to be all-round, unless you’re as lucky as me and you can blog for Yoast where there’s an entire team who will create graphics and do the promotion for you. Unfortunately, they won’t do promotion for my personal blog. I should’ve negotiated that at the beginning of my contract.

Still skeptical about Pinterest, I walked into Joost’s office last month and asked him what he knew about Pinterest. He explained to me that there are mom blogs, especially in the US, that get ten thousands of visitors through Pinterest. The statistics can get bizarre. He told me I was definitely in the right niche to grow through Pinterest and should give it a go.

That night I sat down and started creating graphics for my blog. Pinterest suggests vertical pins instead of the horizontal scaled images for Facebook.

What Pinterest did to my statistics

I would love to say that I woke up the next morning, opened Pinterest and saw that my pins went viral. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Your exposure will slowly climb and the more active you are on Pinterest, the faster you will get rewarded.

If you have a business account with Pinterest, you can look at your statistics. I saw that one of my pins had been shown over 400 times in just a few days. So I squealed and told everyone how amazing Pinterest was. I then showed my statistics to everyone who wanted to see, and even those who didn’t know they wanted to see.

But out of those 400 impressions on Pinterest, not one person had repinned my pin. And no one had clicked the link. Facebook advertising sounded a lot more appealing right now. And less work. And easier to understand.

It took me a week to understand and find the mix that started getting me visitors. I can now say that after one month, 10% of my traffic to my blog is Pinterest. 10% in just one month! My stats are surprising me each and every day and I actually love looking at Google Analytics and my Pinterest statistics. I’ve created a board for my blog and created boards that are close to my niche. I’ve repinned pins from others and pinned my own blog posts.

How you can start to grow

To start growing, the first important step is that your image should be appealing and of high quality. Pins with the message in bold letters across the image, work wonders. People want to know what your post is about in one glance. Writing compelling titles is already important for SEO, so dust up those skills and get them to use for Pinterest!

Another important factor of getting seen is collaborating with others in group boards. By pinning your content to group boards, your content will be seen by the others who contribute to the board.

But balance is key: don’t just pin from your own website. Repin as well. Don’t be afraid to repin a blog post from a competitor if it fits one of your boards. For example: one of my best performing boards is about self-care. I have only written two blog posts on this subject yet, but funny enough, these two blog posts generate the most traffic to my blog.

There’s no easy fix to gain visitors fast. It’s much like Google, Facebook or your other sources of traffic: you need to solve a problem for you visitor by creating content your visitors are looking for.

Read more: ‘Blogging: the ultimate guide’ »

The post Caroline’s Corner: How to use Pinterest to grow – my experiences appeared first on Yoast.

Optimizing how your content looks when it’s shared on third-party platforms like Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp can drive improved visibility, clickthrough, and conversions. But it’s not as simple as just picking a great image…

When you share a URL on Facebook, Twitter, or other platforms, they’ll typically show a preview of the page, with a title, description, and image. These elements are typically taken from Open Graph tags defined in the source code of the page you’re sharing.

How does this work?

The way in which this works is defined by the Open Graph Protocol. This is an open source standard (like WordPress, and even the Yoast SEO plugin), which allows webmasters to tell third-party systems (like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or even WhatsApp, Skype or Hotmail) about their pages.

Star Wars

It defines a set of meta tags which allow you to provide information about the type of content on a page (e.g., “this is a page about a movie”), metadata about that thing (e.g., “it’s called Star Wars – The Last Jedi”), and how it should be presented when shared.

They look like something this:

<meta property="og:title" content="Star Wars - The Last Jedi" />
<meta property="og:type" content="video.movie" />
<meta property="og:url" content="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2527336/" />
<meta property="og:image" content="https://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjQ1MzcxNjg4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzgwMjY4MzI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:width" content="675" />
<meta property="og:image:height" content="1000" />

Most websites (and those running the Yoast SEO plugin) will automatically output elements like these for all pages, posts and archives.

The og:image tags are particularly important because Open Graph tags most commonly play a role in social sharing dialogues. This tag defines the picture which shows up when users share your content across social networks, apps, and other systems. Optimizing the composition, dimensions, and even the file size of the image you use can influence whether somebody clicks and the quality of their experience.

Using images which are too large, too small, or the wrong dimensions can result in errors, or in platforms omitting your images entirely. But optimizing your Open Graph markup isn’t as simple as just picking a good image. There are some complexities around how different platforms use these tags, treat your images, and support different rules.

TL;DR

  • It’s impossible to specify different images/formats/files for different networks, other than for Facebook and Twitter. The Facebook image is used, by default, for all other networks/systems). This is a limitation of how these platforms work. The same goes for titles and descriptions.
  • The Yoast SEO plugin will automatically try and specify the best image for each platform where you share your content, based on the constraints of these platforms.
  • The image size and cropping won’t always be perfect across different platforms, as the way in which they work is inconsistent.
  • Specifically, your images should look great on ‘broadcast’ platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but might sometimes crop awkwardly on platforms designed for 1:1 or small group conversations, like WhatsApp or Telegram.
  • For best results, you should manually specify og:image tags for each post, through the plugin. You should ensure that your primary og:image is between 1200x800px and 2000x1600px, and is less than 2mb in size.
  • We’ll be adding developer support for more advanced customization via theme functions and filters. 

    Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

    Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

It’s not as simple as just picking a good image

Even though Open Graph tags use an open standard, each platform (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc) treats Open Graph tags slightly differently. Some even have their own proprietary ‘versions’ of Open Graph tagging, too. Twitter’s ‘twitter card’ markup, for example, bears a strong resemblance to, and overlaps with, Open Graph tagging.

As an open project, the Open Graph is constantly changing and improving, too. Features and support come and go, the documentation isn’t always up to date, and individual platforms make (and change) their own decisions on how they interpret it, and which bits they’ll implement.

And as the web itself continues to evolve, there are more and more ‘platforms’ where people can share content, and where the Open Graph is used. From Slack, to WeChat, to tomorrow’s productivity and social media apps, they’ll all rely on the Open Graph, but use it in subtly different ways.

So when we’re trying to define a ‘best practice’ approach to support as part of the Yoast SEO plugin, it’s not as simple as just picking the ‘best image’ – we need to make sure that we provide the right tags and image formats for each platform and network.

To make things more complex, these tags and approaches sometimes conflict with or override each other. Twitter’s twitter:image property, for example, overrides an og:image value for images shared via Twitter, when both sets of tags are on the same page.

Lastly, the open graph specification allows us to provide multiple og:image values. This, in theory, allows the platform to make the best decision about which size to use and allows people who are sharing some choice over which image they pick. How different platforms interpret these values, however, varies considerably.

This logic behind which platforms use which images, in which scenarios, gets complex pretty quickly! So more often than not, we’re stuck relying on the og:image value(s) as a general default for all platforms, and adding specific support where we can, whilst trying to minimize conflict. This doesn’t always produce perfect results, so we’re always on the lookout for better ways to ‘get it right’ without requiring end users to spend hours specifying multiple image formats for each post they write.

The challenge of og:image as a default

In a perfect world, there are two different approaches to how platforms handle Open Graph tagging. They look like this:

  1. All platforms only use og:image tags. When multiple images are set, they automatically select (and crop) the best version for their context.
  2. All platforms have specific Open Graph tags (or their own versions). They allow fine-grain control over every scenario, by enabling us to specify the exact image which should be used in each case.

Unfortunately, we’re stuck somewhere in-between. Some platforms allow a degree of control, but the og:image tag functions as a general fallback for all other scenarios.

FB plugin Yoast SEO

This is particularly problematic, as the og:image is also Facebook’s primary image. This is a huge challenge for the Yoast SEO plugin team, and for anybody else trying to define a ‘best practice’ approach to tagging. The image we specify as the main image for Facebook sharing (usually a large, high-res picture) also has to be suitable as a general default for all platforms which don’t have their own specific tags.

For many of these platforms, a large file size optimized for sharing in a Facebook newsfeed won’t be appropriate for their context. For example, Pinterest expects a relatively small, square cropped thumbnail image when sharing from a page – and whilst it has its own tagging mechanisms, the presence of an og:image tag on the page overrides those.

There’s more complexity, too. Different platforms have varying restrictions on image dimensions, ratios, and file size. A high-res og:image optimized for Facebook (with a large file size) will, more often than not, not display at all when someone shares it on Slack, for example.

Frequently, Yoast SEO has to share the same default og:image between multiple platforms – even though they have different expectations and apply different rules and treatments. Trying to work out what the ‘default’ image tag(s) should be, when it has to be the main image for Facebook and a universal default, is tricky. But it’s a problem we need to solve if we’re to provide a best practice ‘default’ setting for WordPress users.

There are lots of unknowns

Because each platform maintains its own rules and documentation on how they treat og:image tags, there are often gaps in our knowledge. Specific restrictions, edge cases, and in particular, information on which rules override other rules, are rarely well-documented. The documentation which does exist is often ambiguous at best. Google+ “snippet” documentation, for example, states that they won’t use images which are “not square enough”. It’s unclear what this means in specific, technical terms. HTML overview

In order to determine the best universal approach to image sharing markup, we had to do some digging and some experimentation.

We were particularly interested in understanding how different platforms react to the presence of multiple og:image tags. If we can specify more than one image, and different platforms handle that differently, perhaps there’s a way in which we can get them to pick the most suitable image for their needs.

What we found

The way in which different platforms handle og:image tags (and in particular, multiple og:image tags) is often inconsistent, and frequently complex. Thankfully, most small platforms and apps simply crop and use the og:image tag (or the first og:image tag, if there are multiple in the set), and apply some reasonable constraints around dimensions, ratio, and file size. Some of the larger and more popular platforms, however, exhibit some particularly challenging behaviors, which complicate matters.

Here are some examples of the undocumented behaviors we’ve discovered (note that we’ve not talked about platforms which simply pick the first og:image tag, and which don’t exhibit any other ‘odd’ behavior). If you find any other undocumented features or behaviors which we haven’t covered or supported (or if we’ve made any mistakes in our research), we’d love to hear from you!

Facebook

When multiple og:image tags are specified, Facebook uses the first tag in the set. This is in line with their documentation, but contrary to popular opinion (which assumes that the largest valid image is chosen). It’s also interesting to note that it uses the first image even if it’s invalid/brokenSelection FB

Additional images are available for selection by the user at the point of sharing (on desktop only). Images are hard-cropped and sized to fit the sharing dialogue window, based on the size of the window.

Instagram

Instagram behaves similarly to Facebook, except that it will only show an image preview for ‘small’ images (if the image file size is smaller than 300KB, and the dimensions are ~256×256 – though we’ve seen up to 400×400 work), and only supports JPG and PNG formats.

Twitter

Twitter uses the last image in an og:image set, unless a twitter:image tag exists. Using the twitter:image tag allows us to control Twitter images independently of all other types, though unfortunately doesn’t allow us to specify multiple values (to accommodate for different tweet contexts/layouts).

National Geographic

To add some complexity, Twitter supports multiple card layouts, which can be defined in a twitter:card tag. The default value is ‘summary’ (1:1 ratio), but it’s also possible to specify ‘summary_large_image’ for a larger, full-width image (2:1) ratio.

Unhelpfully, Twitter’s documentation shows the same layout for both card versions (summary, summary with large image).

Interestingly, Twitter used to support a ‘gallery’ type of card which held multiple images – however, they deprecated this into the ‘summary with large image’ card some time ago.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp also uses the last image in the og:image set, which it hard crops to a small square. Note that, this appears to accept enormous images, both in terms of file size and dimensions; this red square is cropped from a 10000×10000, 1.49mb image. Test page Jono

Skype

Takes the first og:image, but caches it seemingly permanently (both locally and in the cloud), making it impossible to change/update an image thumbnail for a URL (without, e.g., manipulating the og:url value to include cache-busting elements).

Telegram

Takes values from Facebook’s cache (typically the first og:image in a set). Cached images can be updated by messaging https://telegram.me/webpagebot (as a Telegram user) with up to 10 URLs. Note, caches only be updated if a page’s <html> tag contains a prefix=”og: http://ogp.me/ns#” attribute.

Pinterest

Pinterest’s documentation mentions that they “support” up to six og:image tags. However, sharing the page only ever utilizes the first* image the in the set.

They also support marking up inline images through Schema.org markup – however, when an og:image tag is present on the page (which will almost always be the case), it uses this instead.

Article Forbes

There’s also some ambiguity around the difference between how they handle Open Graph data with ‘article pins’ vs ‘rich pins’. The latter is an ‘upgraded’ version which displays more information on the card, but using these requires the site owner to validate their domain.

*There’s an edge-case where, if there are more than six images in the array, the sharing dialogue periodically seems to choose the seventh value (and there’s some other weirdness depending on the total numbers of images in the array).

Google+

Google’s Web Fundamentals documentation implies that Google+ may prefer (and will prioritize) schema markup over Open Graph markup. Theoretically, that might allow us to enable allow users to set a specific image for Google+. They also do some of the smartest intelligent cropping and ratio management (or, at least, the documentation on their approach is more complete and transparent than others).

As an interesting aside, Google+ ignores robots.txt directives, and so may unwittingly expose private/hidden assets.

What we’ve considered, and our decisions

That’s a lot of moving parts. We need to compare all of these rules and decide which og:image tags we output for any given post or page, on any given WordPress site running the Yoast SEO plugin. That means optimizing for the most common and general use-cases, without breaking too many edge-cases. It also means providing tools, hooks, and filters in WordPress to allow users with special requirements to alter the behavior to meet their particular needs.

That’s why we’re choosing to optimize the first image in the og:set for large, high-resolution sharing – the kind which Facebook supports and requires, but which cause issues with networks which expect a smaller image (like Instagram, or Telegram) sharing.

Whilst you could argue that Facebook might not necessarily wield the influence and domination that it used to, it’s undoubtedly still a significant platform in terms of audience size, and a place where page/post sharing is prolific – and where the quality/treatment of the image is critical to click through.

Given that both Facebook, and most platforms’ default is the first og:image tag in a set, we must ensure that this image is a large, high-quality image (with a suitable aspect ratio for Facebook). Unfortunately, this approach has some side-effects. There’ll be many cases where the image used is too large for Instagram (and other platforms which expect small thumbnails) to feature in shared post links.

We’re not completely happy with this as a solution, but it’s the best compromise we can come up with. As an aside, we also believe that, in its current state, Open Graph markup is a bit broken. We think that it feels intuitively right that the first and default og:image in a set should be a high quality, high-resolution image – and that it’s the responsibility of the platform to crop this down appropriately, or to use secondary/smaller og:images, or to provide their own markup/solutions.

Ideally, Open Graph tags would inherit some of the kinds of thinking behind CSS media queries, where you can specify the different screen widths at which different sets of logic apply. We’ll be seeking to lobby and work with the various platforms to improve their support and collaboration in the coming months and years.

User context is an important factor

We also think that this compromise makes more sense than optimizing for smaller images, because the context in which smaller thumbnails are used is different.

Example share link

We believe that individuals sharing URLs in one-to-one chat, or in small groups (e.g., in WhatsApp), are less likely to be negatively affected by a missing (or awkwardly sized/cropped) image. They’re usually chatting, engaged, and know the sender.

In the context of a newsfeed, like on Facebook or Twitter, the quality of the image is much more important – you’re scrolling through lots of noise, you’re less engaged, and a better image is an increased chance of a click/share/like. Structured data FB

In the case of Pinterest, and other systems where your interest is the image itself, we believe that most interaction occurs directly on the image, rather than from the page it’s on or a browser bookmarklet. Given this, we’re less concerned about Pinterest using the first og:image tag (which is a large image, optimized for Facebook) as a small, square thumbnail.

There’s an upper size limit, too

The biggest image you can have (both in terms of file size and dimensions) varies by platform, too. Some platforms support huge images (Facebook allows images to be up to 8mb) – but they chop these down into smaller thumbnails depending on the context. Some have relatively small max sizes, like LinkedIn and Telegram’s 2mb limit.

This makes it even more challenging to determine what the ‘best’ image should be, and which images should feature in the og:image set. We want to show a large, high-resolution image, but not too large.

It’s particularly tricky to pick the best size with WordPress, where we’re not always sure what image sizes we’ll be working with. That’s because, when a user uploads an image to WordPress, their site creates multiple versions of that image with different sizes and cropping. Typically, these are the original ‘full’ size, and ‘large’ (1024x1024px), ‘medium_large’ (768px, cropped), ‘medium’ (300x300px) and ‘thumbnail’ (150x150px) versions. But these default sizes are often altered by WordPress theme or plugin code, and by server configuration – and frequently, some might be too large for general use.

Because we need to make sure that the first og:image is suitable as a general default for as many platforms as possible, the Yoast SEO plugin evaluates post content, spots all of the images, and tries to pick the best size for each post. To get this right, we’ve evaluated the maximum file sizes and dimensions of a number of platforms, and we’ve set some automatic restrictions in the plugin.

Specifically:

  • When the ‘full’ size image is over 2mb file size, and/or over 2000 pixels on either axis, and/or the ratio exceeds 3:1, we’ll try and fall back to a smaller standard WordPress image size.
  • If we can’t find a suitable smaller image, we’ll continue to use the ‘full’ size. Note that this may result in the image not appearing in some sharing contexts.

In conclusion…

We don’t want our users to have to micromanage the details of how all of this works. Of course, when you’re producing great content for your audience, you should consider how that content appears on third party and social platforms. But it should be as simple a matter of picking an appropriate image, and letting the system do the rest – from sizing and file management, to ensuring that the best version shows up when it’s shared in other locations. Because every platform follows its own rules, however, we’ve had to make some decisions which won’t please every user and won’t solve for every scenario.

For most normal use-cases, we’d suggest that you manually set og:image values on your posts via the Yoast SEO plugin, and ensure that their dimensions are between 1200x800px and 2000x1600px (and that they’re less than 2mb in size).

If you disagree with the decisions we’ve made, or want to help us improve our solution; we’d love for you to get in touch. WordPress and Yoast SEO are both open source products – you can help by explaining your use-cases, reporting your bugs, and thinking about how a better solution might work.

We’d love to hear your thoughts; the Open Graph is a mess at the moment, and it’s up to all of us to fix it.

Some additional technical details

We’ve taken some liberty in the og:image markup, and we’re aware that we’re adding quite a lot of weight and markup with this approach. Specifically, we’ll output HTML which looks something like this:

<meta property="og:image" content="https://www.example.com/main-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:secure_url" content="https://www.example.com/main-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:height" content="2000" />
<meta property="og:image:width" content="2000" />
<meta property="og:image:alt" content="A description of the image" />
<meta property="og:image:type" content="image/jpg" />
<meta property="og:image" content="https://www.example.com/second-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:secure_url" content="https://www.example.com/second-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:height" content="800" />
<meta property="og:image:width" content="800" />
<meta property="og:image:alt" content="A description of the image" />
<meta property="og:image:type" content="image/jpg" />
<meta property="og:image" content="https://www.example.com/third-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:secure_url" content="https://www.example.com/third-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:height" content="600" />
<meta property="og:image:width" content="400" />
<meta property="og:image:alt" content="A description of the image" />
<meta property="og:image:type" content="image/jpg" />
<meta property="og:image" content="https://www.example.com/fourth-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:secure_url" content="https://www.example.com/fourth-image.jpg" />
<meta property="og:image:height" content="256" />
<meta property="og:image:width" content="256" />
<meta property="og:image:alt" content="A description of the image" />
<meta property="og:image:type" content="image/jpg" />

Note the progression ‘down’ from ‘large, high-quality image’, through different media sizes (depending on the site/theme setup), ending at a universal ‘small’ size.

We’ll also output a twitter:image tag, alongside the other twitter:card requirements (unless you’ve chosen to disable it in the Yoast SEO plugin config).

We’ll likely continue to iterate and improve on the approach, but here’s our rationale behind some of our assumptions:

  • The og:image:type may not be strictly necessary in all cases, but there are many websites and server configurations where the images don’t have clean and recognizable ‘.jpg’ (or similar) file extensions. By making sure that we signpost the type of file, rather than making networks work it out, we reduce the risk of errors.
  • Facebook’s documentation around how it uses secure_url tags is unclear, especially for sites which are fully HTTPS. However, in the case of video tags, it mentions explicitly that both tags are required, even if both feature the same HTTPS URL. As such, we’ll retain the secure_url tags even when your site and image are served over HTTPS.
  • It’s generally considered best practice to label images with descriptive alt attributes, in order to support users who rely on screen readers and assistive technologies. We believe that Open Graph image tags shouldn’t be any different. This tag is only output when your images are labeled, so we’d encourage you to write some descriptive text during your image upload workflow.
  • Our 2mb file size limit aligns, incidentally, to the default upload size set in most WordPress implementations which run on ‘off the shelf’ hosting.
  • Our 2000×2000 pixel size flag should be a suitable maximum for almost all websites and screen sizes. Most browsers on desktop monitors have a width of fewer than 2,000 pixels (4k monitors and upwards often use image scaling to prevent everything from looking tiny). It’s also rare for any sharing ‘thumbnail’ activity (e.g., a Facebook message preview box) to take up the full width of the screen.
  • As Google+ isn’t widely used, we’ve chosen not to add additional complexity to the Yoast SEO plugin by offering the ability to specify dedicated, schema-based image markup for Google+ images. In most cases, we believe that the default og:image should be a suitable option for Google+ sharing – though we’re keen to hear from you if you find that this is not the case.
  • Unlike most other networks, WhatsApp supports SVG file formats. That means that, in theory, you could achieve optimal sharing for both WhatsApp and Facebook by setting your first og:image to be an SVG, and setting your second og:image as your full-res, large image. However. many other networks only read the first image, and won’t use the SVG file. SVG formats also come with a myriad of security risks, and so we’re not comfortable recommending their general use in this context.

Some undocumented Facebook ‘features’

If you’re feeling particularly geeky, you might also enjoy the following discoveries!

  • In addition to specifying the URL of an image, you can specify its height and width. This has some benefits, including encouraging Facebook to pre-cache the image on the first time it’s shared. However, when you specify multiple og:image tags, invalid/malformed height/width in any of those tags may cause problems with all of your images. E.g., an invalid og:image:height or og:image:width value on an image which isn’t chosen, prevents pre-rendering.
  • Specifying an image triggers the pre-caching process, regardless of whether it’s correct or not.
  • Facebook has different ‘share layout’ sizes, depending on the image size. Small images don’t scale up to a large preview very well, so they provide a condensed layout. However, the share layout size sometimes defaults to accommodating the smallest image from a set (e.g., if you have 10 huge og:image tags, and 1 small one, you sometimes get the small share layout).
  • Facebook also sometimes falls back to the ‘small’ layout if you have too many broken images in your set (as Facebook’s broken image file is only 540×300).
    Test page Jono
  • Setting incorrect image sizes lets you upscale small images in the Facebook debugger, but it doesn’t look like this is respected in the share dialogue. You cannot ‘downscale’ images so far as I can tell. There’s a “upscale=1” parameter in the version of the image which Facebook creates, which I suspect controls this.
  • Large images break! The maximum square image size appears to be in the region of 9200×9200. However, some images with unequal dimensions larger than this, but a lower total area (e.g., 10000×3000) work, as long as a 3:1 ratio or higher. Image test page JonoThis suggests that the boundaries might be based, in part, on a maximum square area of ~95,000,000 pixels.
  • As a minor additional note, when sharing a too-large image directly (i.e., linking directly to the file itself), Facebook just shows a blank image – there’s no fallback file/function used in their ‘safe image’ cleaner in this context.
  • Facebook supports a really interesting feature which lets you build relationships between pages featuring partial/linked Open Graph information. This, theoretically, allows you to ‘inherit’ and/or place centralized og markup elsewhere, reducing page weight. This might be useful for mobile/responsive subdomains, and some internationalization/versioning scenarios, perhaps, if other platforms supported it.
  • Additionally, where cloaking is often a risky tactic in SEO (and frowned upon by Google), Facebook actively suggest (see “You can target one of these user agents to serve the crawler a nonpublic version of your page”) cloaking mechanisms as a method of managing scenarios with paywalls, struggling servers, and other scenarios.
  • Despite claiming otherwise on their documentation, like Google+, Facebook’s crawler appears to ignore or disregard robots.txt directives – it’ll happily fetch Open Graph values from pages which are blocked by robots.txt files.

Some potential “hacks”?

Being stuck having to ‘share’ the first og:image tag between multiple networks is, as we’re discovering, limiting, and not ideal. Sticking to the Open Graph standards, as they’re written, lumps us with all sorts of unfortunate compromises and dead-ends.

So what if we think outside the rules a bit?

If we’re creative, there may be some clever tricks or undocumented approaches which we can use to bypass, confuse, or force certain behaviors from some of the trickier platforms.

Here are a few approaches we’ve considered, but ultimately discarded.

Can we use platform detection to create a dynamic solution?

Imagine for a moment, that every time a page is shared, the platform visits that page, reads the og:image tag(s), and grabs the image.

Theoretically, the Yoast SEO plugin could detect which platform is requesting the page or image, and execute some clever code to serve it the perfect image for its requirements.

That’d enable us to ensure that, regardless of what’s being shared, and where, we could intelligently make sure that the first og:image is the best option for the scenario.

However, the platforms don’t visit every time – they visit once, and save a copy of the tags (and the images) they found for a little while. That length of time, and the scenarios which cause them to revisit and/or update their cached version vary wildly by platform.

Still, theoretically, the Yoast SEO plugin could try and serve the right tags to the platform when they do visit, at the moment when they create their cache. But this approach relies heavily on the platforms identifying themselves when they visit (and on us recognizing their identities), on the website in question having a certain type of server configuration, and on our software doing some tricksy logic around deciding which tag(s) to show.

It might also open things up to forms of abuse by users and platforms who falsify their identities, and it won’t work for any website running any form of advanced caching (where the static pages are served to most visitors).

It all gets pretty complicated, and it’s not a robust enough approach to rely on.

Hidden image techniques

Some platforms, like Pinterest, do more than just grab the og:image tag(s) – they scan the page and look for other images too. That means that we can place sharing-optimized images outside of the Open Graph tags, as part of the page content, and hope that users select these when sharing.

In most scenarios, those images don’t necessarily need to be visible, in order to be discovered. We can place hidden images in the source code of a page.

Unfortunately, this technique doesn’t help in most cases, other than increasing the chance of an image showing up in a selection process. e.g., where Facebook allows you to select a thumbnail from an og:image set, or where Pinterest allows you to choose an image to share from a page when using their browser bookmarklet).

In most scenarios, in-page images are ignored when og:image tags are specified. Hiding images can also cause unexpected side-effects, such as accessibility issues, or slower page loads – especially when sharing the kinds of large images which platforms like Pinterest or Facebook look for in cases like this.

Publish-and-switch techniques

For some platforms, like Facebook, we can ‘push’ a specific image to them, by setting the first og:image and sending a request to their cache-busting URL.

We could adapt the Yoast SEO plugin to set a specific image as the first in the set, then ping the relevant platform’s cache-busting system to update the image. Then we could change the og:image ordering and repeat the process, setting the best image for each platform which allows for remote cache updating

Unfortunately, this only allows us to set the initial image. When their caches expire, we’re back to square one – they’ll use the logic we’ve outlined to pick their preferred images.

To repeat the cache-setting process, we’d need to constantly juggle the order of the tags, in line with the specific cache-expiry times of each platform. This adds a wealth of complexity, and simply isn’t feasible in most site setups (especially those running their own caching solutions), and only a few platforms support this kind of cache-busting.

More importantly, we want to avoid tactical hacks

As we’ve explored, we’re not keen on going to these kinds of lengths to try and fix a problem which could be fixed so much more effectively, and comprehensively, by the platforms themselves, and improvements to the Open Graph protocol.

We’re not adverse to implementing clever, technical solutions to help get the image selection process right, but we’d rather work with the platforms to address the problems at the source, rather than tackling the symptoms across the 8 million+ websites running the Yoast SEO plugin.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on how you think WordPress, Yoast SEO, the Open Graph Protocol and big platforms like Facebook and Twitter might be able to work together better!

Read on: ‘Social media optimization with Yoast SEO’ »

The post Advanced Technical SEO: How social image sharing works and how to optimize your og:image tags appeared first on Yoast.

Last week was all about Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearing. There’s no point in denying that Facebook gathers lots and lots of data about individual users. That being said, all kinds of companies and governmental organizations are more than willing to use that data to have successful Facebook campaigns. So, is Facebook evil for gathering that data? And if so, aren’t websites willing to give that information to Facebook not equally evil? 

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Regulation always lags behind

When radio first emerged, companies sponsored most of the programs. Programs were one big advertisement. We call it a soap opera because a large soap factory sponsored it! Gradually, broadcasters sold advertisements in blocks, during commercial breaks. While some countries have laws concerning advertisement and commercials, most countries have councils that provide guidelines on what is allowed in commercials and what not. Advertisers, media people, and audiences talk with each other and figure out what is allowed and what not. And I think that’s what we need to do with Facebook advertising as well. We need to think, talk and set up new rules for this advertising game. Together. 

What is a tracking pixel?
A tracking pixel is an invisible 1×1 pixel on a website that records the activities of visitors. This pixel collects data about the visitor and shares it with, for instance, Facebook or Google. Often, visitors aren’t aware that the pixel is collecting their information and therefore there is quite a bit of criticism on this way of retrieving data.

The responsibility of companies

Facebook does not force a tracking pixel on websites. Nor does Google. And yet, lots of websites have one of each. That’s a choice. I am not saying it’s a wrong choice per se; I’m just saying it is a choice. And I do think that companies should take some time to think about the consequences of that choice. Do you want to use data gathered from people that visit your website to retarget these people on Facebook? You can’t be sure what Facebook does with that data, but you are handing it over to them.

At Yoast, we did have a Facebook tracking pixel on our website for some time. We did little with it. It did not feel right. It felt as like we were following our audience — stalking them. We discussed the use of the tracking pixel in our company and decided to remove it. This was long before the Facebook hearing.

Ignorance is no excuse

I am afraid lots of companies do not even know whether or not they have a tracking pixel. Marketing departments or agencies may have taken care of it without explaining how such a retargeting campaign works. I do think companies have a responsibility to know and to care. We are talking about collecting data on individuals; it’s valuable data of and about your visitors.

We should educate ourselves and our children. We all witness retargeting, so we should explain how it works. This is not rocket science. My 11-year old figured it out himself. He noticed advertising for the Fortnite computer game wasn’t on my Instagram timeline, while it appeared so very frequently on his. He wondered why. We should make a real effort to explain this stuff to children, to companies and governments. If people understand, we can have a meaningful conversation and raise the questions that matter.

Have the conversation

We have to raise ethical questions. What data are we allowed to collect from our audience? And with what purpose? Do we need to tell our audience about the tracking pixel on our website?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. Different people will come up with different answers. That’s the beauty of ethical questions. I am no expert, but you should read Morton Rand-Hendriksen’s’ article on using ethics in web design if you’re interested in this kind of stuff.

The bottom line is, we all need to think about it. We all need to talk about it. And in the end, we need to come to some consensus together. We need to make — and abide by — rules or laws to deal with these kinds of things.

So.. let’s talk!

Read more: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

The post Is Facebook evil? Aren’t we all? appeared first on Yoast.

Facebook can be a vital source of traffic for your website. Recently, however, Facebook announced that pages of business, brands, and news outlets would become less important in the news feeds of Facebook users. This could lead to a decrease in your views on Facebook and, therefore, in the traffic from Facebook to your website. What should you do if the traffic from your Facebook page is decreasing? Last week, I already mentioned the importance of SEO. But what else could you do? Here, I’ll share another five strategies to deal with decreasing traffic from your Facebook page.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

Yoast SEO: the #1 WordPress SEO plugin Info

Why would the traffic decrease?

Facebook argues that users want to see the content of their friends and families, rather than news and the content of brands in their news feeds. That’s why Facebook is rolling out a big update in which the posts of friends, family and groups become more important and the content of businesses, brands and media will become less important.

Read more: ‘Changes in Facebook make SEO more important’ »

5 strategies to deal with decreasing Facebook traffic

If you notice a sudden drop in reach of traffic from Facebook to your website, don’t panic. Your competitors will probably notice a similar drop. I really think search will become more important, if Facebook will send less traffic to website. People still want to find that present for their mom, or that skirt to wear to a party. If Facebook does not show those in their timelines, they’ll start to search for it in Google. So reinforcing your SEO strategy will be very important. But what else should you do?

Engaging content

Facebook wants to show users content they care about. Content their friends care about. If your content gets a lot of engagement, it’ll probably do better in the news feeds. You should try and get people to share or comment on your Facebook post. But you shouldn’t go overboard; Facebook does not like it when people are pushed to share or comment. Writing high-quality content, content that people want to share with their friends is a good strategy.

Personal accounts

Brands and businesses are not always the most inspiring channels to follow. Lots of people do not want to follow a corporate account. They want to follow real people. Instead of focusing on your corporate Facebook page, you could also focus on spreading the word on the personal Facebook pages of colleagues and employees. Of course, they’ll have to be up for that. And, you should make sure that these personal Facebook pages keep their character.

At Yoast, we have lots of colleagues who are enthusiastic about WordPress and SEO. They often share the SEO posts Yoast publishes on the Yoast Facebook page. That’s a great way to increase both engagement and a  bigger audience.

Influencers

Another way of keeping up the traffic on Facebook is through influencers. Influencers are people who have a lot of followers. They usually post about a specific topic (fashion, celebrities, food). You can reach out to them and ask them to post something about your business on Facebook. For some influencers, you’ll need a budget. For others, offering them your product or service could be enough. Reaching out to (influential) people can be a good way of increasing your reach and traffic on Facebook.

Advertising

The changes Facebook is making will affect the organic (that is the non-paid) reach.  Advertising on Facebook is of course also a possibility. Advertising isn’t that expensive, and you can choose which audience you want to reach (people who like your page, people who do not know your business). I think advertising is a great way to stay visible on Facebook. For a few dollars, you can increase your reach. Make sure you spend your budget on well written, high-quality posts.

Other platforms

If Facebook is giving you a hard time, you could also focus your energy on alternative platforms. Instagram is a good alternative, especially if you’re focusing on a young(er) audience. Don’t forget to check out snapchat either.

Twitter and Pinterest also remain popular. And what about Reddit? It’s hard to say which social media will be most suitable for your business. That depends largely on your business and the preferences of your audience.

Facebook traffic decreasing

Businesses and brands will probably all notice differences in organic reach on Facebook. How significant these differences will be is hard to say. To make it even more complicated, Facebook also changed the way they measure organic engagement. It’s a good idea to keep looking for alternatives for your Facebook-marketing. Investing in SEO seems like an excellent idea! But advertising, writing engaging posts, influencer marketing or other platforms could be great options as well.

Keep reading: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

The post What to do if traffic from Facebook is decreasing? appeared first on Yoast.

If you promote your website on Facebook, perhaps you’ve noticed some changes in the last few weeks. Or maybe you read about it online. Facebook changed its algorithm; messages of businesses and news outlets will become less important. In this post, I want to explain the consequences of the changes in Facebook’s algorithm. On top of that, I want to propose some strategies to cope with these changes and perhaps a sudden drop in traffic. My favorite strategy? Invest heavily in SEO.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

SEO copywriting training Info

The Facebook algorithm changed? Why?

Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the changes on January 11th of this year. He writes:

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

Zuckerberg states that Facebook users want to see the content of their friends and families in their news feeds, rather than that of news outlets and the content of brands.

It’s one of the reasons why Facebook is rolling out a big update in which the posts of friends, family and groups become more important and the content of businesses, brands and media will become less important. That would imply that brands, businesses and media will have a harder time reaching their followers. Their posts will have fewer views and less reach.

What do we notice so far?

It’s hard to say precisely to what extent a drop in organic reach for brands and businesses already took place. It seems like a drop in referrals to media-sites did happen. Media sites seem to get more traffic from Google now than from Facebook.

Blog posts from social media experts (e.g., AgoraPulse; Hootsuite) give the impression that a drop in organic Facebook reach is or will also be happening for brands and businesses. That could well be the case. Reading the announcement of Zuckerberg would imply that especially those brands and companies that have little interaction with their audience will be shown less in the news feeds of their followers.

To make matters more complicated, Facebook also changed the way they measure and report organic reach in the newsfeed. That makes it extra hard to assess whether or not the organic reach of your page has changed.

Read on: ‘How to optimize your Facebook reach’ »

What’s next?

For some websites, this could be a big deal. If you get a lot of traffic from Facebook, this algorithm change could decrease the amount of traffic you’ll be able to attract to your website.

But, to reassure you all: don’t panic. Your business is not the only one that’ll encounter this change. We all have to deal with it.

Some coping strategies

Investing in high-quality and engaging content on Facebook is a good strategy. If your followers reply to your posts and tag their friends, Facebook will probably show your post to many more people. And of course, you can always advertise on Facebook. Advertising on Facebook isn’t that expensive and will allow you to reach your audience, even if your content is not that engaging.

Invest heavily in SEO

In my opinion, the best response to a possible change in the Facebook algorithm is to invest in the SEO of your website. If Facebook is no longer the most important source of traffic to your website, other sources will become (relatively) more important. If people do not see the posts of your business or brand in their news feed, they’ll probably start searching for your products somewhere else. And Google (or another search engine) is the number one candidate for where people will search.

Let me explain how this works by introducing Jane:

Jane is a child psychologist. Her clients come from her local community. She has an active Facebook page. She posts little stories about her clients every day. This Facebook page brought her new clients. People started following Jane; they liked her posts, her tips, and her stories.  When their children needed counseling, Jane was the first one to pop into their heads. Her Facebook posts made sure that Jane’s practice was top of mind. 

The change in Facebook’s algorithm changes a lot in the way Jane got her clientele. Perhaps her Facebook posts will be shown less to her audience. People are still in need of a child psychologist, though. But if they do not find one in their news feed, what will they do? 

When in need of a child psychologist, people start to search for one elsewhere. They could turn to Google and search for ‘Child Psychologist.’  Jane, therefore, needs a kick-ass website with a proper SEO strategy to outrank her competitors. 

If businesses and brands get less attention in the news feeds of their users, traffic from Facebook to their websites will decrease, just as it did with the news. Google could become (relatively) more important.

Conclusion

I think it’s a bit too early to understand the changes in the Facebook algorithm fully. We’ll need some time to do some proper testing and research. I do think businesses and brands will get less attention in the news feeds. I just don’t know how significant the changes will be. It’s frustrating too. The only thing you CAN do is to make sure your website is awesome. Invest time in writing excellent content and create things people want to come to your website for. While doing that, don’t forget to make sure people can find you in the search engines. Time to set up that impressive new SEO strategy!

Read more: ‘Social media for small business owners’ »

The post As Facebook’s algorithm changes SEO becomes crucial appeared first on Yoast.