Facebook has done a very good job creating their like button widgets. However, their image selection technology, while good, isn’t perfect. Sometimes a website owner will want a specific image displayed to appropriately showcase the content of the site.
Fortunately, Facebook has provided a way to explicitly define which image to use for a like button embedded on the page. In fact this is true for any page, even if the Facebook Like button isn’t on the page, as is the case when someone has manually linked the page on Facebook’s feed. Furthermore, using similar methods, one can alter other things too, such as title and description.
The ‘OG’ meta tag, used specifically by Facebook, is the key to unlocking this functionality. The OG tag is used like any other meta tag and should be placed between the head tags of an HTML document.
The format for these ‘OG’ tags are as follow:
< meta property = “og:[attribute]” content = “[content]” />
For images use the following code:
< meta property = “og:image” content = “[IMG URL]” />
It is important to note that the URL should be the full URL of the image and not just a relative one. So, instead of something like:
< meta property = “og:image” content = “/imgs/bluebunny.jpg” />
< meta property = “og:image” content = “http://www.thewebsite.com/imgs/bluebunny.jpg” />
As mentioned earlier, Facebook has included several different options for tags to specify details for social media in addition to the og:image meta tag. Some of the more useful ones are og:site_name, fb:admins, og:title, og:description, og:type, and og:url.
These tags are pretty straight-forward and self-descriptive, though they do warrant brief descriptions.
- og:site_name is the name of the website the page is to be a part of. This often times will contain information that might be found in the title tag, but isn’t to be confused with the title of the page. This is instead the name of the website, in general. So, for example, a specific article on CNN’s website could use the og:site_name tag of CNN.
- fb:admins should contain the Facebook user id of the admin of the page.
- og:title This is the title for the actual page. Again, this might contain much, if not all, of what is in the title tag, but this tag provides additional flexibilty. When used in conjuction with a og:site_name tag, the og:title attribute can be much more focused.
- og:description is a brief description of the website’s contents. This is a very useful tag because, when omitted, a piece of the website is used. This is usually the first paragraph or so within the body, which sometimes isn’t relevant to the true content of the site. It is best to keep this description small – think about the length of a typical Twitter tweet.
- og:type is one of several different page types. Facebook’s developer documents enumerate the specific formatting for each type they have provided already, and also include instructions for complex types, which can be used to describe things they haven’t pre-classified.
- og:url is also useful, especially in the age of bit.ly and other similar services. This tag specifically provides the page URL, so true URL’s can be used in all cases.
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