How to Control What Facebook Shows When You Share Your Link

Have you ever wondered any of the following about your Facebook share image?

  • “How do I get Facebook to use a different photo when someone shares my website?”
  • “How can I make Facebook show something other than the first line of my blog post?”
  • “Where on earth does Facebook get the pictures it shows next to my posts?!”
  • “How do I get Facebook to show what I want?”

You’re not alone! Most marketing folks and bloggers have asked the same questions, and for good reason: it’s not obvious, and there’s not much in the way of clear instruction.

If your website is built in WordPress, we have good news for you: with a small investment of time, you can get everything exactly how you want it for the foreseeable future.

Build Your Facebook Sharing Foundation

Your first task is simple: install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin.

Note: if Yoko Co built your site, you’re already good to go—we set up Yoast SEO as part of your site set-up. You can skip straight to the next section!

Yoast SEO - social settings - Facebook share settingsGo to “SEO” > “Social”. (If you don’t see “Social”, you’ll need to enable Yoast SEO’s advanced settings.)

Click on the “Facebook” tab and make sure “Add OpenGraph meta data” is set to “Enabled”.

I also recommend you set up a default image that will be shown on Facebook if the specific page or post being shared doesn’t have a usable image. For a personal (or personality-driven) site, this is the perfect place to use a photo. For a business site, the organization’s logo might make sense.

The Yoast SEO plugin does a lot of other things, too, but this is all you need to get started with your Facebook share improvements.

Prepare Your Post

Now that you have the general settings in place, it’s time to get your post ready.

The image

It’s probably the single most frustrating element when it comes to sharing on Facebook. By default, the images are used in a predictable-but-not-intuitive order:

  • Yoast SEO will offer Facebook every image within your post. Facebook won’t make all of those available. Specifically, any image that’s smaller than 200×200 pixels won’t be included.
  • Every image over 200×200 pixels will be put in a stack for the person posting on Facebook to choose from. They’ll be in order, meaning the first large-enough image in the post will be the default, except…
  • The first time the post is shared (unless you do the “Test!” step below), the image with the largest dimensions (in pixels) is the one that will be the default. It doesn’t matter if it’s first, last, or in the middle of your post.

However…

You can override everything for Facebook sharing.

If you scroll down past the window where you’re typing your post, you’ll see a section called “Yoast SEO”.

Here, you can edit what Yoast SEO calls your “Snippet”. It’s the text that shows up on Facebook, Google, and other sites when linking to yours. It includes a title and a description, and you can easily edit them right here.

Think of these options as an extended version of a text ad: the goal is to convince people to click on the link, whether they’re looking at Facebook or Google.

Yoast SEO - social panel - Facebook share settingsAny changes you make to your Snippet will, by default, be used across the web, including on Facebook. If you want to have a different version of your Snippet, specifically for Facebook, just click over the “Social” settings. There you can craft your title and description just for Facebook.

This is also where you can force Facebook to share a specific image. Adding a “Facebook Image” here changes the whole selection process: assuming the image is large enough (follow the guidelines below the upload box), Facebook will use the image you’ve selected and not offer any others, even if the post has several images.

Test!

This happens all the time: a blogger adds a new share image, or updates their Snippet, but when they post the link on Facebook, they see the same old thing as before.

Well, you’re not crazy: Facebook is ignoring your changes. But there’s a good reason.

Most blog posts and pages don’t change once they’re posted, so typically, there’s no value to Facebook in grabbing a fresh copy every time. Instead, they sensibly keep a copy unless they’re told to update it.

So, you have to tell them to update it. Fortunately, this is both easy and useful, because it also gives you a chance to double-check that everything is as it should be.

All you have to do is go to Facebook’s Sharing Debugger tool, put the URL of the post or page into the box, and click the “Debug” button. Sometimes the tool will tell you “this URL hasn’t been shared on Facebook before” and you would just click the “fetch new information” button.

Facebook Debugger: Scrape Again button Then, check the “Time Scraped” value under the “When and how we last scraped the URL” heading. If it’s not within the past few seconds, click the “Scrape Again” button to tell Facebook to get a fresh copy.

That’s all you need to do if you just want Facebook to update the images—but we recommend glancing over all the results so you can see why they’re showing what they’re showing.

What Happens After You Share?

Now that you’ve brought Facebook into line, you may want to step back and ask the bigger question: how does this Facebook share impact the bottom line?

The bottom line can be dollars but it might also be something even harder to measure, like impact. At Yoko Co, we care a lot about both kinds of bottom lines. One of the tools we use to measure impact is our Full Funnel Visualization Report.


Want to get more strategic about your Facebook shares and other social marketing?

We’d love to share a free sample of the Full Funnel Visualization Report. It’s just a sample, so it’s not customized like we do for our clients, but we think you’ll find it helpful to see what we think is worth measuring, and what we do with the numbers. We hope it inspires you!

Download the Full Funnel Visualization Report!

64 comments on “How to Control What Facebook Shows When You Share Your Link

  1. When I link my blog on FB, I want it to show the first lines of my blog post. It is showing the general description of my blog for every link. Have you explained how to change that anywhere?
    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Kathryn—the process outlined in the post (using Yoast SEO, setting the options for the specific post, testing it, etc.) should let you control what shows up, but it can sometimes be thwarted by the theme you’re using. If you’ve followed all the steps and it’s still not working for you, leave the URL of a specific blog post you’d like to share and I’ll take a peek. 🙂

  2. Why does when I post a blog with picture it looks different on my phone? On the desktop it will be a picture above the article but the same post on my phone will be a smaller picture beside the article. It doesn’t do this all the time but I post the same each time. Do you know why?

    1. Hi, Corey—I’m not surprised to hear that Facebook is displaying the picture differently based on what kind of device someone is using to view it; mobile phone real estate is at a premium. Facebook is likely trying to show as many stories as they can on every screenful, to make sure viewers constantly see “another interesting story” that keeps them scrolling.

      As for why it’s happening on some articles but not others… I’m not sure on that one off the top of my head, but I can tell you the clues I’d look for when comparing two articles that are treated differently:

      1. Are the articles’ pictures both landscape- or portrait-orientation? Or are they different?
      2. Are the articles’ pictures both large images? Or at least, roughly the same dimensions?
      3. Is the Snippet roughly the same length for both articles?
      4. If you run both articles through the debugger, are there any other obvious differences when comparing them?

      Bottom-line, Facebook undoubtedly has their own set of rules for how pictures are displayed within stories, but it might be possible to figure them out. Maybe! 😉

  3. Hi, Violet,

    It looks like Facebook updated the process just slightly since I wrote the instructions about their Sharing Debugger tool—now you have to manually tell it to “Scrape Again”. I tested it on the blog post you mentioned, and it worked, so I’ve updated this post with the new information.

    Thanks for the question and best of success with your blogging!

  4. Hi, I renamed a Google Play Store app.
    When look up my app on the Play Store, tap Share > Facebook, the Play Store URL of my app appears as a post in my Facebook wall
    …so far so good.

    1) When my phone (or Desktop Facebook account is set to german), …then the OLD title of my app shows on the post that’s on my Facebook wall.

    2) When I set Facebook back to english or spanish the title of the post shows the new and correct app name.

    Why does this happen? I already scraped the URL and the problem persists.

    1. That is a good question. I haven’t experimented with multilingual debugging, so I’m not sure I’ll be much use to you on this one. What’s the URL of the app’s Play Store page?

  5. Last year we where able to use dynamic content sharing, like the title, description, and image. I always used this on image galleries so people could share the picture they like from the gallery. I made a custom script which swapped the image each time.

    Now it always seems to grab the info in the header of a page.

    Do you have any tips?

    url is http://www.amnesiacuracao.com

    1. Hi Rombout – Apologies for the delayed response. I see you’re using the appropriate og tags in the site which is the first thing Facebook will look to in order to pull the preferred thumbnail image. Once it’s pulled it from your site it will cache it within Facebook. As Sarah mentions in this post you can use the Facebook debug tool and request it scrape the site again to pull a new image. We haven’t had to create a tool that changes that image automatically, but I believe if you can automate the re-scrape request you’d be able to do it. Good luck with it!

  6. Hello!

    I used the Yoast SEO Plugin and uploaded the image that I want as a thumnail. However, when I share my website, it still shows any image.

    How can I solve this?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi, Juan—if you check the Facebook Sharing Debugger tool, does it show any errors (like “too small”) in relation to the image you uploaded? That’s where I’d look first.

    1. Hi, Shawn—when I go to share the link on Facebook, this is what I see:

      That’s what I’d expect based on what I see in the debugger. If that’s not what you’re seeing, it’s possibly your browser cache is the culprit—you can check by using a different browser. Let me know if you need more details on that!

  7. Hello! On the FB debugger, it’s showing my og description as “Featured Content Who Are We? NEON OWL x GROOVE CRUISE Neon Owl’s Dance. Give. Inspire. charity show AFTERMOVIE is here!” which are all titles for each columns on my site (https://neonowl.co/). However, I’ve already written a description in the Yoast plugin in an attempt to override the original og description, but it’s not working even after I re-scraped it. Do you know why that might be?

    1. Hi, Ray—looking at the source code of your site, you’ve got two og:description meta tags:

      With most web technologies, if there is a conflict between two settings, priority goes to the last one, and it looks like that’s what’s happening here.

      Now, why is the second description there at all? That’s a good question. I can’t tell specifics from the source code, but it’s going to be either the theme or another plugin. You may be able to track down the culprit by looking in your theme code (if you’re comfortable doing that) or by switching themes temporarily, or by disabling other plugins and checking if it’s gone away.

      Good luck, and give us a shout if you can’t find it!

  8. Great post, totally saved my bacon.. One of the things that happened in my case is that my client’s theme (Avada) actually ALREADY had a setting called “Open Graph Meta Tag” – and the theme setting takes precedence over the Yoast plugin settings.

    So if things don’t behave as expected with Yoast, I’d suggest investigating if your theme has a setting like this, and turning it off completely.

    Screenshot: https://www.screencast.com/t/ZihLatGzImZ

    1. Thanks for sharing what you found, J. I bet that will help a bunch of people currently banging their head against the Facebook wall!

  9. Ok, but what If I want to use some particular picture when I paste my blog homepage to FB?
    Now, when I do this FB takes an image from my the most recent post so it’s looks weird sometimes.
    I have tried to set a logo but it looks like FB ignore it and still shows images from my last post…

  10. I recently downloaded Yoast primarily to manage my facebook links. Sadly this feature of Yoast is no longer available in their free plugin. Only in the premium version.

    1. My impression is that the premium version has added a new feature where you can preview the outcome, but the core features are still in the free version. If you don’t mind running through the debugger, updating, and checking again a few times, the free version should still work okay.

  11. I don’t think it works with videos; in my experience, only video links from major video sites (YouTube, etc.) result in the video being embedded. (Now, if the video you want to link to is on YouTube, that’s good news—but you don’t need any of the WordPress settings to make that happen.)

    1. Hi, Hunter,

      It looks like Facebook is pulling “Front Page” from the settings in the code:
      Source code for Academy of Road Mastery

      If you’ve followed all the steps in this article, you should be able to edit the homepage and set the title to be whatever you like in the Yoast SEO section. For example, this is how we have our homepage set up:
      Example of Yoast SEO homepage settings

      Hope that helps! Let us know if you need any more guidance.

    1. My impression is that the premium version has added a new feature where you can preview the outcome, but the core features are still in the free version. If you don’t mind running through the debugger, updating, and checking again a few times, the free version should still work okay.

  12. Happy I found this post.

    I am using blogspot blog (that’s blogger platform).

    When I share my posts on Facebook, every other thing is fetched correctly EXCEPT EACH POST DESCRIPTION WHICH I ADDED WHILE CREATING EACH POST.

    Everything was working fine before I changed my template recently.

    Whenever I share my posts now on Facebook, instead of displaying each post’s description, it will rather display this ==> “YOUR DESCRIPTION HERE” which looks annoying and unprofessional.

    I have tried commanding it to fetch each post description but it does not.

    I even added a custom description to override “YOUR DESCRIPTION HERE” being displayed, but most of my posts ain’t fetching it.

    I have more than one thousand posts and I can’t start debugging or scrapping each URL one after another. That’s cumbersome.

    My blog URL is http://www.trendsoflegends.com

    Help me check it and tell me where things are wrong. There are lots of meta tags in this new template that I became confused of which one of them to remove.

  13. Hi Sarah, can you help? We want to share blog posts to Facebook: https://humans.net/blog. However, whenever we do (same when scraping URLs through Facebook Debugger), the individual post title and description do not show. Instead, the text displayed is “Humans.net – Our Blog” and “Learn more about our network.” Looking at the source code, I see that that’s the meta information under the section. We have Yoast SEO and want to override this with the information we input into the Yoast SEO box. How can we do this? Thank you!

    1. Hi, April—when I look at the source code for one of your posts, I’m not seeing the Yoast SEO Open Graph tags at all. That could mean one of a few things:

      1. The Yoast SEO plugin is no longer active.
      2. The Yoast SEO plugin is not configured to add that information (see Yoast’s article for instructions).
      3. The theme you’re using isn’t using the standard way of adding code, so the Yoast SEO code isn’t being added to the source.

      If you can figure out which is the issue, I can help you troubleshoot further!

        1. Hi, April—it can be a bit challenging to track down a theme issue because themes can be put together in a lot of different ways… but I’d start by looking in your theme’s header.php file (if it has one!). Somewhere in that file, there should be a line that says “wp_head()”—if that’s not there, that might be the problem.

          If you want, you can paste the contents of the header.php file using Pastebin and share the link here and I can look it over and see if there are any red flags. Of course, if you don’t want to troubleshoot it yourself, you can always contact us to do it for you, too. 😉

    1. Hi, April—that wp_head() thing is definitely the culprit (or at least one culprit). See line 42, how it says < ?php //wp_head(); ?>? Those two slashes say “don’t run this code, it’s just for information purposes.” However, that code needs to run for Yoast SEO (and probably other plugins) to work as intended.

      You can try removing the two slashes so it just says < ?php wp_head(); ?> but a big caveat: usually when someone has “commented out” code (that’s what it’s called when they add the slashes), they did it because something wasn’t working. So at the very, very least, make sure you have a backup and a way to restore the backup file. It’s possible, depending on what the original issue is that caused someone to disable that code, that the site may break if you re-enable it.

      If you have the option to test the change on a staging server instead of the live site, that would be my strong recommendation (that’s what we do).

      1. Thank you Sarah, you have been SO helpful! Really appreciate your assistance. Will forward issue to our technical team. I feel so lucky to have discovered this post!

        1. Glad to have been able to help, April! Hope your tech team can get it sorted and your Facebook adventures can get fun again. 🙂

  14. Thanks so much for this information. Does this work-around also work on pages? I want a specific page of my WP site to show on a FB event page.

    1. Hi, Annie—I’m a little rusty on Facebook event pages, but in general, if there’s a spot for you to put in a specific URL, the details should be pulled from the Yoast SEO plugin (to confirm, when installed, it is available on pages as well as posts).

  15. When I share my website link to facebook post. I get this error (“Posts that look like spam according to our Community Guidelines are blocked on Facebook and can’t be edited.”). My website has no content that violates fb community guidelines. My website link is namobot (dot) com. Please help.

    1. Hi Nilofer,

      While Yoast doesn’t work for BlogSpot, there are some other options. If you have the image in a larger resolution, I’d upload it to your blogspot post at that larger size initially. (Then if you want to resize it you can) then run the page through the tool Sarah mentions in this post. It should help it fetch the correct image at the proper size. Hope this helps!

  16. Hi!
    Is it possible to define the link where shared Facebook post is pointing to, to be other than the page where the sharing has been done? I have created a personal test and I’d like to customize the sharing options like that the result and it’s image are shown on Facebook post but when clicking the link in post it would go to the test itself, not to the result page.

    1. Hi, Liisa! Plugins will usually only create “share” links for the current page, but you can definitely use a tool like Share Link Generator to create a custom link to any page you like. You can then set your test page to use an image and descriptive text of your choice according to the instructions in the article. Hope that helps!

      1. Hi Sarah!
        Many thanks for your response. This Share Link Generator might solve this indeed but…
        I don’t figure out where to put this generated link (leading to the home page of site) in a post/page’s SEO options or should I put it straight behind the social share button on a page?
        I have various result pages and each of them has their own image and description but when shared they all should lead to the front page of the site.
        Thank you for advance!

        1. Hi, Liisa! There might be a way to insert it as an option in a plugin or somewhere else, but it’ll likely be easiest to manually add the link.

          If it was me, I’d find or make a good-looking “Share on Facebook”-type image, insert that into the content of the page (probably at the end?), and turn it into a link pointing to the address the Share Link Generator created. I think that’ll be easier than working with a plugin for this specific case. 🤞

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