What is Open Graph? How to use it for your WordPress website?

Navigating the online world can be challenging, especially when it comes to creating content that stands out on social media. One answer to the question of how to gain more visibility lies within Open Graph tags. What is Open Graph, you might ask? It's a potent tool that shapes the way your website's link appears on social media, showcasing crucial aspects of your webpage to potential viewers. Harnessing the power of Open Graph can elevate your brand, garner more views, and simplify content sharing in today's fast-paced digital marketing environment.

What is Open Graph?

Open Graph, at its core, is a technology protocol developed by Facebook that's designed to unify the use of metadata within a webpage. This innovative tool allows web content to be presented in a rich, engaging manner when shared on social media platforms. But what is Open Graph's function in detail?

When you share a webpage on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, Open Graph steps in, enabling these platforms to showcase the page's title, description, and image in the feed. This enhanced preview piques the interest of social media users, encouraging more clicks and visits to your website.

But Open Graph doesn't stop at displaying titles, images, and descriptions. It can specify the type of content being shared, such as a blog post, a product page, or a video, aiding social media platforms in understanding the shared content and presenting it in the most appealing way possible.

Open Graph can even deliver intricate details, such as the length of a video, creating a rich representation of each individual page on the internet. With Open Graph, every webpage comes to life in the social media realm, showcasing the essential highlights of your content to potential viewers.

Open Graph Tags

Open Graph tags are integral elements of the Open Graph protocol, guiding the way your content is presented on social media platforms. They are the way to implement Open Graph on your website. Technically, they're meta tags that are rendered in the <head> section of your web page's source code. Let's take a detailed look at some of these tags:

1. og:type

The og:type tag determines the category of your content. Whether your page features an article, music, video, or any other content, this tag helps to represent it correctly.

<meta property="og:type" content="music.song" />

Best Practice: Specify the type clearly. For instance, use "music.song" for a single song or "music.album" for an album. If not specified, the default is "website."

2. og:url

The og:url tag specifies the URL of your page, acting as its unique identifier. Any change in this URL can disrupt the shared link on social networks.

<meta property="og:url" content="https://your-website.com" />

Best Practice: Use simple, concise URLs, and stick to the canonical URL to consolidate metrics across all shared posts with the same URL.

3. og:title

The og:title tag sets the title of your webpage.

<meta property="og:title" content="Your intriguing title here" />

Best Practice: Keep your title under 60 characters to avoid truncation. Make it enticing and eye-catching to attract clicks.

4. og:description

The og:description tag provides a concise overview of your content.

<meta property="og:description" content="Your succinct description here." />

Best Practice: Aim for a description under 200 characters to prevent truncation. Make it engaging and accurate to draw in viewers.

5. og:image

The og:image tag specifies the image to be displayed with your content.

<meta property="og:image" content="your-image-url.png" />

Best Practice: Maintain an optimal image size of 1200 x 628 pixels for social media sharing (minimum 200 x 200 pixels). Acceptable formats include JPEG, GIF, or PNG, and the image size should not exceed 5MB.

6. og:site_name

The og:site_name tag represents the name of your website.

<meta property="og:site_name" content="your-website-name" />

Best Practice: While not crucial, this tag adds context, indicating that your content is part of a larger website or domain.

7. og:video

The og:video tag presents the URL to a video on your webpage.

<meta property="og:video" content="your-video-url.mp4" />

Best Practice: Optimize the appearance of your videos by using additional tags like og:video:width and og:video:height.

8. og:locale

The og:locale tag defines the language of your content.

<meta property="og:locale" content="en_US" />

Best Practice: Use this tag if your content is in a language other than American English. It's particularly useful for multi-language websites.

While Facebook lists 17 Open Graph tags in their official documentation, only four are required: og:title, og:type, og:image, and og:url. You can further enhance your content's appearance and functionality with optional tags like og:audio, og:description, and og:site-name.

Remember, these tags are placed within the <head> tags in the webpage's backend, collectively painting a vivid, appealing picture of your content on social media platforms.

Implementing these Open Graph tags manually takes a lot of time and effort. You should use an automated SEO plugin like Slim SEO to handle that for you. Slim SEO automatically creates and inserts Open Graph tags into your pages so you don't have to do that manually.

Other Forms of Open Graph - Branching Out to Twitter Cards

Just like Open Graph transformed the way content appears on platforms like Facebook, Twitter Cards have revolutionized how link previews appear in tweets. They follow a similar mechanism, offering customizable previews for shared URLs, which includes a title and main image.

Twitter Cards and Open Graph can work in tandem. While Twitter has its own system of tags, it does not disregard Open Graph tags. Instead, it prioritizes its own system but falls back to Open Graph if Twitter-specific tags aren't available. It's important to note, though, that Twitter Cards do have a specific requirement: images should ideally be 1024 pixels by 512 pixels. You can use Twitter's Card validator to check the appearance of your Twitter Card.

Twitter's version of Open Graph has expanded into four different card types to boost user engagement:

  1. Summary Card: Features a title, description, and thumbnail image.
  2. Summary Card with Large Image: Similar to the Summary Card but showcases a larger featured image.
  3. App Card: Directs users to a mobile app download.
  4. Player Card: Displays video, audio, or other media.

The basic Twitter meta tags to consider include:

  • twitter:card
  • twitter:site
  • twitter:creator
  • twitter:title
  • twitter:description
  • twitter:image

An HTML example of a basic Twitter card might look like this:

<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary" />

When content equipped with these tags is shared on Twitter, it gets attached with a "Card" that provides a visually engaging snippet of your content, whether it's a large image, a direct app download, or a video.

With the power of Open Graph and Twitter Cards, your content can truly stand out and engage users across multiple social media platforms.

Testing Your Open Graph Tags

Once you've embedded Open Graph tags in your webpage, it's crucial to ensure they're working as expected. To accomplish this, you can employ several testing methodologies.

1. Utilize the official debuggers:

These tools lets you scrutinize your Open Graph tags and visualize how your content will appear when shared on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

2. Manually Check Your Open Graph Tags: If you're comfortable delving into the source code of your webpage, you can manually inspect your Open Graph tags. Found within the <head> section of your code, Open Graph tags are recognizable by their "og:" prefix.

Following this testing phase, you can implement any required modifications to your Open Graph tags. By ensuring the accuracy of your Open Graph tags, you're optimizing the likelihood that your content will be presented correctly and engagingly when shared across social media platforms.

The Benefits of Using Open Graph

Incorporating Open Graph tags into your website brings with it a wealth of benefits that are integral to a comprehensive digital strategy. Here's why Open Graph is worth the effort:

  • Boosts Click-Through Rate (CTR): Open Graph enhances the preview of your web page on social media feeds, making it visually engaging and information-rich. This enhancement entices users to click on your link, potentially leading to an increase in website traffic.
  • Amplifies Social Media Engagement: Open Graph plays a pivotal role in boosting social media engagement. By creating attractive and engaging link previews, it encourages users to share your content. This increased sharing and interaction can lead to broader exposure for your brand and website, amplifying your digital presence.
  • Enhances SEO: Open Graph contributes positively to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. By providing meta-data that offers a clear understanding of your page content, it makes your pages more indexable by search engines. Consequently, this can improve your website's visibility in search results, leading to a boost in organic traffic.

Grasping Open Graph and its functionality is paramount for an effective online presence. Implementing Open Graph tags might seem intricate initially, but by focusing on the basics and consistently monitoring and debugging your social media previews, you can significantly elevate your content's performance and engagement on social media platforms. Remember, a little effort towards optimization can yield substantial rewards.

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