Take control of social shares in WordPress with Yoast SEO Plugin
Holy Frustration Batman! Like, not kidding one tiny bit here. I have not been blogging long, and you totally may understand how this all works already; but I certainly did not! I use Bluehost for my hosting, and WordPress for the blog and with that I installed the Yoast SEO plugin. I needed to take control. To do that I had to figure out just what all this text I was putting on my pictures were really doing. Where they would show up if shared from my post to social media? Let’s take control of social shares in WordPress with Yoast SEO Plugin!
If you are using something other than this (except the hosting, that won’t matter), I am not certain that all of this information will help you.
What shows up if I put text in this field or that field?
I didn’t understand why when I hit share on the social media share icon on my website for Facebook, it didn’t post it with the image I wanted. It did not show the text I wanted, even though I thought I was setting all this information. When I hit share on the social media share icon for Pinterest, all sorts of images came up. Some had some weird text like “this-is-my-test”, and I wasn’t sure where exactly this was getting pulled from.
The first thing I learned a bit ago, was that Alt Text is important. I had been adding it, but just copying the image title. There was my problem. The Alt Text is what is going to show up like a description for your pin etc when you try to share it socially. I had been adding the Alt Text just like the image name, so that is why I was getting “this-is-my-test”. Still confused. I bet.
What my research found
I read many articles after many searches for this information, they all pretty much told me what things were…but I was still not following. I still had to spend the day testing things out to see what did what and so on. I needed to “do” it, I had to “see” it. I figured because I needed this, maybe you did too, so I figured I’d write this up AS I was figuring it out. We can figure this out, try with me.
I recommend trying this with a test page similar to how I will show you. Do remember that if you use Publicize, that you need to uncheck the box or it will post to Facebook and Twitter (if you have it set up that way). Learned that I forgot to do this when I got a Twitter notification of someone liking my test post. LOL
Add your image Alt Text
The first thing I did was create the images I wanted to use for this test, then I uploaded them to WordPress. What’s important to know is that your Alt Text will be what shows up when the image gets shared. Think of how you would want your pin to be described if it were to be pinned on Pinterest, that is what you want to put in that Alt Text field in WordPress. This is very important to know when you take control of social shares in WordPress with Yoast SEO Plugin.
I read that Alt Text is mandatory for images on the web but very often is left blank because we don’t realize just what it does. It describes your image content and though in many cases no one will see it, search engines will always see it. You should describe your images in the Alt Text field unless the images are something like an icon, basically things that are decorative etc. In the image below I put “this is my alt text image 1” in the Alt Text field because I wanted to clearly see later just what this field was going to do.
Add your image Description
In the image above you will see the description field. If you add text to the description field, those words will be stored as post content for the attachment post. In English, that means if someone lands on the attachment post page for the image they will see what you have typed in the description field.
I think that it probably won’t happen that often. I just copy and paste the Alt Text and put it in the description. This is what an attachment page looks like on my website. I clicked the image that I had set to go to an attachment page and it brought me to the attachment page and you can see that under the image is the description that I had entered in that field in the image above.
Create your post
As you see in the image below, I created a test post. I put my title and added some text that was going to be different from anything on the images so that if it showed up when I share an image I would know exactly where it was getting pulled from. From there I published the post. Please remember that if you are doing a test, go under “edit details” for Publicize and uncheck the boxes for Twitter and Facebook. This way your peeps won’t have to see some weird post from you.
Check what it will look like when shared to Facebook
First thing I tried out, sharing to Facebook. Well that looks horrible! The image looks crazy and I noticed it didn’t use my Alt Text, it used the text in the body of the post. Now, you may want that. I didn’t.
Check what it will look like when shared to Pinterest
Next I checked to see what showed up when I went to share to Pinterest. It shows all three of my images and the Alt Text that I put in. It also pulled my last image and did not use the Alt Text, but the body of the text. You may like this, some posts it may not matter…but if you want to have more control over this, we have to keep going.
It also showed another option that has no image, but text and it uses the title as the image and as the description. I tried to search why it does this, but I didn’t want to spend forever trying to figure it out today. If I figure it out down the line I will update this post. I have a theory but I don’t want to put it in your head if it isn’t true. It doesn’t happen on ALL of my posts. If you know let us know in the comments or send me an email, thanks in advance.
Setting A Featured Image
Setting a featured image is important if you care about how your images will be shared on social media. In WordPress go to the Featured Image area and select a featured image. The size here is also important for how it posts to Facebook, so you may want to play around with the size you use. This is where we are telling WordPress which image to pull to share on social media.
There are so many people giving different numbers for this, I wrote a post about what sizes I use if you want to read that to get some advice.
Now check to see what happens when you share to Facebook
Still didn’t work….I think I figured out why. It seems that it matters if you set the featured image before you publish a post. I added the featured image after I had published and the image I set still didn’t show up. I also find that if I change Alt Text after I post, I have to take the image off the post and add it back on again or the changes don’t seem to change anything after I update the post.
This also seems to be the case even if you change the Alt Text after you place the image into the body of the post even if you just save the draft. You really should not add your images until you are pretty certain you won’t change it. If you do need to change it you will have to delete it and put it back in, or click edit and replace it (replacing it is faster and easier). Keep it in mind. This tip will save you tons of time and frustration later. Believe me on that one.
If at first you don’t succeed
So, I deleted that first test post and started from scratch (since I didn’t add the featured image BEFORE I published). I did the same steps except I added the featured image before I hit publish. The image is the one I wanted, it still gets cut off a bit, if it were square it would be perfect…or I could have used a landscape or square image. Read about optimal social media image sizing here.
It does work better with a landscape image, but they don’t work as well for Pinterest and I personally am more concerned about how it looks on Pinterest than Facebook. I don’t always want to make a different image just for Facebook, but I probably should because it doesn’t need to show up in my blog post. Keep reading and you will see what you can do to make that happen.
My description is still the title and body of the post. Again, this may work for you. Not what I wanted, so I kept going.
Use Yoast SEO to set what happens for Facebook
Ready to take control of social shares in WordPress with Yoast SEO Plugin? Here is where using Yoast SEO plugin is going to come into play. With this handy dandy plug-in you can override a bunch of things for sharing to Facebook and Twitter (you will see it also can affect some of the images that come up as pin-able for Pinterest). I put in a Facebook title and description but didn’t change the image. I knew it was already using the featured image which is what I wanted.
You may want to do this differently if you have created a different image that you want optimized for each social media you are planning on sharing to.
IT DIDN’T WORK! Not for Facebook and not for Pinterest!
Add Facebook Image in Yoast
I then thought that maybe because I didn’t set a Facebook image, the other fields were not working. I added the same image as I did on the featured image area of WordPress.
Check it again
As it turns out, setting the Facebook Image in Yoast is what make the other fields work. Have no idea why and I don’t think it should. But for me, it matters.
Check it for Pinterest
When I then tried to share to Pinterest I now see that the featured image is now what I set in Yoast. I still have the weird green title image option, and again I will research that. I suppose that it wouldn’t be the worst thing for someone to pin that, and if they had the option, would they really? It is on my list of things to figure out.
Use Yoast SEO to set what happens for Twitter
Now I was interested to see what would happen if I filled out just the Twitter Title and Twitter Description field. I did not set a different Twitter image.
This what it looks like when I got to share the post to Twitter. This didn’t make sense to me, it pulls the post title for this.
Check it on Twitter
Makes more sense when you see what actually gets tweeted. What I set for the Twitter Title and Description is used in the Twitter Card. Doesn’t seem to matter that I didn’t set the Twitter Image, it pulled the featured image. You may want to add one just in case. Or play with it like I have.
What I realized would work best for how I wanted to work this
I realized that the image I set as my featured image would not show up as pin-able and I wanted it to be if I set a Facebook image in Yoast. So, what I did was added the image I wanted as my pin-able image as the first image on the blog post. I made sure that the Alt Text was what I wanted the Pinterest description to be.
I then set the image I wanted for Facebook as the featured image because that is what gets used if you set it on Yoast anyway. Then if you want Facebook to use something other than your regular description in the post (the featured image doesn’t use the Alt Text) you should set it up in Yoast. So, to state it another way. For Facebook and Twitter using Yoast, I do not upload an image there…I get issues sometimes especially in Facebook when I do. So, just the image you want as the featured image in WordPress and then just set your custom title and messages in Yoast.
I am not sure why it doesn’t seem to work quite as you would think, if you do…let me know. This is how I make it work for me. In the future I will be setting my featured image as a landscaped image that I want to use for Facebook and Twitter AND it will be the same image. If you want some reasoning, or help on what size to make that image, read my post on Optimal Social Media Image Size.
For Twitter I set another image that I wanted to use there and I also used the description area to add the hashtags I wanted for Twitter. For whatever reason images added in the Yoast area do not show up as pin-able.
Now we know how to take control of social shares in WordPress with Yoast SEO Plugin, let’s review.
- Alt Text is very very important
- descriptions are pretty important but not like Alt Text
- using Yoast SEO plugin with WordPress helps control how your content gets shared socially
- put the image you want for Pinterest as the 1st image in your blog post with the Alt Text you want as a Pinterest description
- set featured image as the image you want to be shared to Facebook. This is because if you set in Yoast, it will override your featured image and that image you had set as your featured image will not show up as pin-able.
- set the image you want shared on Twitter in Yoast along with what hashtags you want to use (this won’t show up as pin-able)
- this was exhausting and I hope it helps you so that you don’t have to test it out like I had to.
Not using WordPress?
If you aren’t using WordPress, I am not certain how helpful this information would be to you. I am finding it somewhat easy to figure this whole thing out. Not having to worry about hosting helps. If you are looking to start a blog, or switch to a self hosted blog like mine you should consider Bluehost. The hosting part of this whole thing is just the easiest. I have used another company in the past so I speak from a bit of experience. I also got an amazing deal, and you’ll get one too.
Yes, if you use my link and purchase hosting I get money from them. Being honest here people. I made sure when I signed up that I used the link given by the blog I had been reading about it from. I wanted to make sure they got credit for something I was going to do anyway. So, maybe you will feel that way about me 🙂 If you are going to take the plunge click here and make my day!
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