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Changes to Facebook’s Custom Link Previews and What It Means for You

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link previews

To combat erroneous news stories, Facebook has made changes to its algorithm. This change went into effect in mid July.  Facebook introduced the change to eliminate the manipulation of content on the popular social media platform.  These changes will limit the ability to customize link previews, and at this point you may be wondering why that matters.

Facebook found that allowing users to change images, titles, and other descriptive items was too easy to exploit, and has eliminated it from their API.  If you're a content provider, like a blogger or an advertiser, this has implication for you in particular.  Learn to manage and work around this change to get the most out of each and every post!

Why Does This Matter?

To understand this change, it's important to understand Open Graph tags.  Facebook has a tutorial that walks you through open graph.  If you're not familiar with how it works, head over to get the details.  For the sake of this article, just know that Open Graph allows content creators to incorporate metadata that gives Facebook information needed to provide users with the context of your post. Open graph metadata provides information that’ll make users want to click.  That's why it's important to understand this change.

Here's a simple, affordable and "so worth it", solution that keeps your content looking sharp at all times.  Learn the work around that keeps things humming on your blog, no matter who shares your content on Facebook.

Which One Looks Clearer, #1? or #2...

Remember hearing this phrase when you visit the eye doctor? They place different lenses over your eyes and ask you to pick the one that looks best.  Well the metadata provided by the content creator does just that.  It allows Facebook to take a boring ol’ URL and transform it into a beautiful link preview.  This makes your content and your intent crystal clear to anyone who might be interested in your topic.

Plain URL

Metadata allows a link that looks like this...

metadata, link previews

Link Preview

Into a link preview that looks like this...

link previews, YouTube video

As you can see, link previews are more eye-catching and clickable than plain URLs – by giving your link metadata that includes an image, title, description, and more.  When you provide metadata, it makes your posts more meaningful.

Trusted Links and Content Get the Most Traffic

This change is a good thing in many ways, because it means that no one can take your content and change it around on social media​ to make it look different than you intended.  Going forward, when someone tries to change the image, title or description of a link preview, the only thing that will show up will be the metadata provided by the content creator.  If there is no metadata, the post will likely appear as a plain URL.

The goal is that users will be able to trust that the content they click on will be the content they will see when they arrive at their destination or landing page.  More trust, means more traffic from clicks. And it means concerns about the integrity of the information provided on Facebook will dwindle down. 

Keep in mind that currently this applies to link previews in Facebook profile or group posts.  Pages will not be affected by this change until a later date.

Because Facebook pulls link previews from website metadata. If you share a link to a website that is not your own, be aware that it may not have this metadata available.  So a complete link preview with an image may not be generated.

What This Means for Content Creators

Now, the only person who can decide what your link previews look like is you – and you have to do it on the backend of your website, not on Facebook or via a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite.

That means that as a content creator, you are responsible for making sure your link previews have the proper metadata stored to make your posts look great.  If not you may notice a drop in traffic and shares. ​

A Simple, Affordable Solution

Open Graph tags live in the code for every page and post on your website. But if you're not into coding your metadata by hand for each post, no problem.  We aren't into that either... I mean, who has time for all that? Anyway, we use a plugin by Yoast SEO to handle our metadata. This plugin is the best because when used for each post.  It practically forces you to address the metadata that shows up all across the web, not just on Facebook.  It gives you the specific areas that should be addressed and optimizes the post for SEO.  Watch the video above to see how it works.

It also has an area (shown below) that specifically allows you to type out metadata for Facebook and Twitter posts so that you can address any constraints on each platform.  For example on Twitter, it enables you to make sure you're within the 140 character limit.

I would highly recommend installing this plugin on your site.  If you have it and you've allowed it to collect dust, start using it today.  It will save your posts and your traffic from any negative effects of this recent Facebook change. 

Here's a sneak peek at how the plugin looks in your WordPress Dashboard.

link previews
Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

In mid July, Facebook made changes to its algorithm to combat erroneous and scammy posts. The changes limit the ability to customize link previews. You may be wondering why that matters. Learn how these changes will affect your posts, especially if you are a content creator.

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