A “Cheat Sheet” For Writing Blog Posts That Go Viral

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The Simple Blog Tweak That Gets You More Social Shares Right Now

The Simple Blog Tweak That Gets You More Social Shares Right Now

Go on. Be honest.

As a blogger, you have a love-hate relationship with social media.

You love the idea of your content going viral and bringing thousands of new readers to your blog.

But you hate the fact that this kind of social success is so hard to achieve in practice.

Regardless, you always share your latest posts and ask others to do the same.

And you pick up a few shares here and there, but little more.

In fact, every time you post your content on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, it feels like tossing a coin into a fountain and making a silent wish.

You secretly hope that this will be the one that catches fire, but deep down you know it probably won’t be.

And you just can’t shake the idea that you might be missing a trick.

But what else can you do? Sharing is down to other people. It’s out of your hands, right?

Wrong.

What you may not realize is that the moment you click publish on a new post, you may already have condemned it to social obscurity.

Unless you come to grips with something called social metadata.

What the Heck is Social Metadata?

In a nutshell, social metadata enables your content to be presented in the best possible light when shared on social media.

Instead of relying on Facebook, Twitter and the other social platforms to guess how your content should be displayed in their social feeds, you can tell them exactly what you want.

But that’s what social metadata does, not what it is. So let’s rewind and ask a more basic question: what is metadata?

Metadata, quite simply, is data about data.

For bloggers, it means extra information about your content that may not be visible to your readers but can be picked up by other services, such as Google’s search robots.

A good example of basic post metadata is the meta description of a web page, which Google can choose to display in its search results:

metadata-description-example

Here the text below the headline is extracted automatically by Google from the post, but it doesn’t form part of the visible content. It’s metadata created by the blogger, behind the scenes.

Social metadata on the other hand is not designed for Google to read, but rather for the major social platforms.

And the difference between the two is that these social snippets appear in social streams like your Facebook news feed or Twitter timeline instead of Google’s search results.

Why Smart Bloggers Are Already Using Social Metadata

We’ll go into the details shortly, but here’s the bottom line:

If you don’t take advantage of social metadata, you risk your posts looking crappy when shared on social media.

And of course, this could have a significant impact on how widely people share them.

To understand this a bit better, let’s take a quick look at how social sharing works.

What happens when your content gets shared

When your blog post is shared on social media (either by you or someone else), the social platform (e.g., Facebook) grabs a copy of the post using the link provided and tries to extract some useful information, such as the post title, a short description, a featured image, etc.

If you’re using social metadata on your blog, this tells the social platform about your post in a language it understands. In other words, you get to control which information is extracted for use in sharing.

And the key point is that if you don’t provide social-specific metadata, the social platform will grab whatever data it can find.

Sometimes the result is okay, but more often it’s not.

The Perils of Ignoring Social Metadata

Take a look at what happened when this post about hot dog toppings from Epicurious was shared on Facebook:

hot-dogs-facebook-helmut

Yes, the brutally-cropped image is a fail, but that’s not the egregious error here.

Since the blog’s standard post format displays the writer’s bio first – and since no social metadata was entered to tell it otherwise – Facebook pulled the first 160 characters from the top of the post as the description, which in this case is a description of the author, not the post.

Great for Kristin Donnelly, but terrible for shareability.

We don’t really care who wrote this, at least not to begin with. So don’t tell us about the author; tease us with thoughts of sauerkraut and Thai chili sauce. Right?

Finally, the title is too long because it includes the “| Epicurious.com” label, which might look fine in your browser’s title bar, but only serves to clutter things up when sharing.

Here’s another example from Arizona Highways Magazine:

AZ-Highways-cactus

The picture is certainly eye-catching, but again, no social metadata description was configured, so Facebook just pulled the first 160 or so characters from the top of the post.

This might not have been so bad if this wasn’t part of a series of posts with the same opening text. Here’s another post in the series:

AZ-Highways-bird

See? The “EDITOR’S NOTE:” and the repetitive text that follows could (and should) have been used for descriptive text specifically about this post.

One last example, this time a Facebook share of a post from Florida Citrus:

Florida-citrus-facebook

This is the biggest fail of the bunch.

Not only did Florida Citrus neglect to customize the social metadata description for this post, but they also didn’t even include a basic metadata title and description. And Facebook pulled its description from the top navigation text. Come on, Florida!

The important point here is to make sure you control the data that’s displayed. It makes your content more shareable and improves its longevity.

In the worst case, if your post has no metadata, it might pull a description from your crafty lede or even your navigation or menus.

So implementing social metadata is crucial. But it doesn’t work the same way across all of the social platforms.

Let’s start with Facebook.

Understanding Facebook Social Metadata: Open Graph

Facebook uses a standard called Open Graph to determine what your page is about.

Open Graph is a set of social meta tags that feed Facebook (and other social platforms) with a specifically crafted social message about your blog post. When incorporated properly into the code of your blog post, Open Graph tags can increase your chances of people sharing and engaging with your posts.

Although you don’t need to worry too much about the technical details, and just to give you a flavor of how this works, these are the basic Open Graph tags your average post can include:

  • og:title – Title of your post, minus the branding.
  • og:site_name – Name of your website (not the URL).
  • og:url – The URL of your post.
  • og:description – A short, catchy description of your post.
  • og:image – The image associated with your media with a suggested size of 1,200 by 630 pixels.

These tags are embedded within the code (i.e., HTML) of your blog post. You can see them at work here:

<meta property="og:title" content="How to Get Interviewed by Popular Blogs (Even If You're Not a Big Shot)" />
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Boost Blog Traffic" />
<meta property="og:url" content="//smartblogger.com/expert-interviews/" />
<meta property="og:description" content="Are you tired of being an internet nobody? Learn how to join the ranks of the recognised experts by getting interviewed on popular blogs." />
<meta property="og:image" content="//smartblogger.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/expert-interviews.jpg" />

Facebook Social Metadata in Action

Let’s look at some examples to see exactly how this works.

First, here is an example of a well-configured post:

Mashable-facebook-post

Why is this post perfectly configured? Because, underneath the status update, Facebook has pulled the following directly from the post:

  • A correctly sized image.
  • A short, catchy title, minus any branding.
  • A concise post description.

Here’s how the original post looks on the site where it was published – Mashable.com:

Mashable-blog-post

Without the addition of the Open Graph social metadata, Facebook would have pulled the SEO meta description or the post introduction text for the description.

Facebook actually provides a debugging tool to allow you to see which Open Graph tags it can find in a web page. Here’s the output from the Mashable post above:

mashable-facebook-debugger

Understanding Twitter Social Metadata: Twitter Cards

Although we’ve focused on Facebook so far, it’s not the only social platform to support additional meta tags for describing your content.

Similar to Open Graph, but developed and used solely by Twitter, Twitter Cards are a set of social metadata tags that give you control over how your content looks when shared on Twitter.

Twitter has seven different card types depending on what type of media you primarily share. The two most useful types for bloggers are the Summary or Summary with Large Image types.

Designed to give Twitter users a preview of a post, the Summary Card is the preferred option for most blogs. It includes a title, description, image thumbnail and Twitter account attribution.

The social metadata tags for a Summary Card include:

  • twitter:card – The type of card, in this case “summary”.
  • twitter:title – A short, descriptive title of 70 characters or less.
  • twitter:description – A concise, 200-character or less description of your post.
  • twitter:image – The URL to a unique image representing the content of the page. Image must be a minimum size of 120 by 120 pixels and less than 1MB in file size.

If you want to give prominence to the image over the description, the Summary Card with Large Image is designed to show Twitter users a large image that links to your post.

The tags are the same except twitter:card specifies “summary_large_image,” and the image in twitter:image should be at least 280 by 150 pixels.

The Photo Card and Gallery Card may come in handy for photography blogs – but here’s a full list of Twitter Card Types.

Twitter Social Metadata in Action

Here is an example of a well-configured Twitter Summary Card from this post on CBS Sports.

CBC-Sports-twitter-summary

Notice how the title and the description pulled from the post provide a concise overview and neatly fit the space allocated.

Here is the code from this page:

<meta name="twitter:card" content="summary" />
<meta name="twitter:site" content="@cbssports" />
<meta name="twitter:creator" content="@KBergCBS" />
<metaname="twitter:url" content="http://www.cbssports.com/nba/writer/ken-berger/24723463/for-many-nba-assistants-the-road-to-glory-is-well-traveled" />
<meta name="twitter:title" content="For many NBA assistants, the road to glory is well-traveled" />
<metaname="twitter:description" content="Ken Berger catches up with New Orleans Pelicans assistant Bryan Gates, whose circuitous coaching path meant he celebrated Christmas at Denny&#39;s five years in a row ... but never the same one." />
<metaname="twitter:image" content="http://cbssports.com/images/visual/whatshot/092414bryangates.jpg" />

Note these two additional tags:

  • twitter:site – The @username of the site.
  • twitter:creator – The @username of the content creator.

The creator tag in particular is important because it acts as a digital signature, identifying the person who created the content. We’ll see how to implement that shortly.

Here is a well-configured Summary Card with Large Image from a post on Condé Nast Traveler:

CondeNast-twitter-summary-large-image

Here is the code associated with this post:

<metaname="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image">
<metaname="twitter:site" content="@cntraveler">
<metaname="twitter:title" content="Your Complete Guide to Apple Picking in the Fall">
<metaname="twitter:description" content="Now that autumn has officially started, take a weekend trip to your nearest apple orchard for a perfect day outdoors.">

Just for fun, let’s compare the difference between tweets with and without Twitter Card metadata.

Compare this tweet:

vanity-fair-twitter-bad

To this one, which was a few tweets down the feed:

vanity-fair-twitter-good

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, tweets with summary pages appear in the stream in a larger font size.

When you click on “View summary,” you’ll get the full summary card:
vanity-fair-twitter-good-summary
What’s the difference between the two tweets? The first is devoid of Twitter card metadata, whereas the second has it configured correctly.

Seems the Hollywood gossip section of Vanity Fair’s website gets more meta attention than the style section.

What About Metadata for Other Social Media Platforms?

Just like Facebook and Twitter, all major social media platforms use metadata to identify the main elements of a post.

The good news is that Google+ and LinkedIn also take direction from Open Graph, so if you’ve got your Facebook meta tags set up correctly, you’re good to go.

Hallelujah!

Now that you understand how these social metadata tags are used, don’t freak out and think that you have to learn advanced HTML. There are tools!

How to Get Social Metadata Working on Your Blog Without Breaking a Sweat

You’ve seen the benefits of implementing social metadata on your blog, but some of that code looks a little scary, right?

Don’t worry; as is often the case when you’re running WordPress, you can use a plugin to do all the heavy lifting.

One of the best options is the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, which not only helps you manage your blog’s SEO, but also has settings for Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Cards and Google+.

Of course, you have some other options too. Besides Yoast, Twitter also recommends the Jetpack and JM Twitter Cards plugins, and Facebook has its own official Facebook plugin for WordPress.

Yoast, however, is easy to install and gives you what you need to ensure that social metadata is configured and included in your post.

Installing and Configuring the Yoast Plugin

Let’s see how to properly configure the Yoast plugin to include social metadata in your posts.

Step #1: Install the plugin

You can install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin as you would any other plugin by selecting Plugins > Add New from the WordPress left-hand menu.

If you type “WordPress SEO” then click Search Plugins, it should be the first one returned.

Once you have the Yoast plugin installed and activated, you’ll need to get it configured for each of the major social platforms.

Step #2: Configure Facebook social settings

Follow these steps:

  • In your Yoast settings, go to “Social” and click on the Facebook tab.
  • Check the box next to “Add Open Graph meta data.”
  • Save changes.

You can explore other settings on this page, but in terms of social metadata, Facebook is taken care of.

Yoast-facebook
Step #3: Configure Twitter social settings

Now follow these steps:

  • Click on the Twitter tab.
  • Check the box next to “Add Twitter card meta data.”
  • Add your Twitter username (without the “@” symbol). Note that this is the Twitter account associated with the blog as a whole, which may or may not be the same as your personal Twitter account.
  • Choose the type of Twitter card you want to use for your posts (Summary or Summary with Large Image).
  • Save changes.
Yoast-twitter

One final step required for Twitter is to visit your WordPress user profile and ensure that your Twitter username has been completed – it’s this field that’s used to populate the twitter:creator metadata field.

Step #4: Configure Google+ social settings

Follow these steps for Google+:

  • Click on the Google+ tab.
  • Check the box next to “Add Google+ specific post meta data (excluding author metadata).”
  • Save changes.

How to Add Social Metadata to Your Next Post

You’ve now completed the basic configuration, but of course you need to add content-specific metadata each time you create a new post.

Yoast-google

To do that, first scroll down to the WordPress SEO by Yoast section and then follow these steps one-by-one:

Step #1: Add the SEO Title and Meta Description

First, under the General tab, enter an SEO title and Meta Description.

Yoast-SEO

These are the values that will be picked up by Google for display in its search results, but also the SEO Title will appear in the social metadata for Facebook and Twitter.

Step #2: Add your remaining social metadata

Next, click on the Social tab and enter descriptions for Facebook and Google+, as well as the URL of an image optimized for Facebook.

You might want to use different descriptions for Facebook and Google+ to reflect the different audiences of the two platforms.

And when it comes to picking an optimum image size for each platform, Sprout Social has a fantastic resource here: Always Up-to-Date Guide to Social Media Image Sizes

Yoast-social
Step #3: Publish and test your post

Once you’ve published your post in the normal way, you can check how your post will appear when shared.

To preview your post as it will appear when shared on Twitter, copy and paste your URL into the Twitter Card Validator to test for proper configuration.

Note that the first time you run the card validator, Twitter requires approval.

Twitter-Card-Validator

If your preview is not displaying correctly, check your code. Right click on your blog post page, choose “View Page Source” and look for the Twitter card code toward the top of the code.

You can also paste your link into the Facebook Open Graph Debug Tool to test the post for proper configuration and get a preview of how the post will appear:

Facebook-debug-clearvoice

Because other social platforms (besides Twitter) use the Open Graph markup, odds are in your favor that if you pass the Facebook debugger tool test, your post will display correctly on other mediums.

For instance, you can test your link in the Pinterest Rich Pin Validator if you plan to pin it.

To see how Google+ will render your post, simply log in to your Google+ account and go through the initial steps of sharing your post. You’ll see a preview before you actually have to click Share, so you can simply cancel if it doesn’t look quite right.

Discover Your Metadata Mojo and Skyrocket Your Social Shares

Social metadata is here to stay, and exciting new applications for it are emerging all the time.

And while no one knows exactly where it’s heading, one thing is clear:

If you want your content to be shared as widely as possible, you need to get on board.

Sure, the down and dirty details are not for the faint-hearted, but friendly plugins like Yoast keep the nasty technical stuff at arm’s length.

Which means there’s really no reason you can’t start making social metadata work to your advantage today.

So fire up your WordPress dashboard, install the plugin and make it part of your publishing routine.

Because your content deserves the best possible chance to shine.

About the Author: Lisa Kasanicky is content curator and blog manager for ClearVoice.com, a content marketing platform used to connect brands with authoritative content creators. With a writing career that spans more than 20 years, she is author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Girlfriend Getaways” and creator of a website dedicated to beauty and wellness. Circle her on Google+ or follow her on Twitter.

115 Comments

  1. Kevin Duncan
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:16:28

    Hi Lisa,

    Yep, I definitely have a love-hate relationship with social media. Haha.

    This is an awesome look at social metadata, which sadly is a big “huh?” topic for many bloggers. Many just don’t realize their content isn’t as sharable as it could be.

    Really nice intro to Facebook and Twitter metadata, Lisa. Twitter Summary Cards (especially) are fairly easy to set up, and so, so worth the effort!

    I’ll be Tweeting this shortly. Great work, Lisa!

    – Kevin

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:29:54

      Thank you Kevin! Social metadata was a big “huh?” for me too until I realized how relatively easy it is to master … and the difference it makes when done correctly.

  2. Jake Mcspirit
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:23:35

    Hi Lisa,

    Surprised to say that I’ve never even considered these, despite the ridiculous amount of time spent on social media! (and having Yoast’s SEO plugin installed!)

    Very informative, and such a quick and simple fix. Time to go address that now…

    Thanks!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:07:52

      Thanks for the confession Jake. Your secret is safe with us. Good luck!

  3. Abraham
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:25:33

    Wow, great post. It’s so informative and benefit-rich. Sharing it in a minute to see how this post’s metadata works.

  4. Jack
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:38:21

    Thanks for the reminder, and great tutorial!

    I’ve been using Yoast’s magic forever for SEO but hadn’t gotten around to the social metadata yet. Thanks for the swift kick to the head to knock some sense into me.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 19:14:00

      Didn’t mean to kick you in the head Jack, but whatever it takes! 😉 Good luck!

  5. Tom Southern
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:38:52

    A host of eye-opening info here Lisa. It highlights something that’s troubled me about sharing images on social media: Badly cropped or squashed up images. Leaving any images shared ugly and detracting. So I’ve not posted as many as I’d have liked.

    One thing that stops me taking the plunge with your advice here is that WordPress SEO by Yoast doesn’t work well with my theme. It’s a running problem that my theme creators keep trying to fix but doesn’t go away. Short of buying a new theme how do you suggest I could use social metadata? Would I have to do it manually and enter the HTML code? If so, where should I enter it?

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:11:28

      Hi Tom,

      Have you tested the Jetpack plugin with your theme? It also has a robust features set and allows for basic Twitter card configuration. I tested the JM Twitter Cards plugin as well and found that it allows you to attach a specific image for Twitter in an individual post, which might be helpful in your case.

      Yes, your last resort would be to insert the proper Twitter card code in your HTML. All metadata (including social) must be in the code of your post. The Twitter CMS Integration Guide is a good resource for additional info: https://dev.twitter.com/cards/cms-integration

      • Lisa Kasanicky
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:55:56

        Clarification: Metadata and social metadata must be between the tags in your HTML.

      • Lisa Kasanicky
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:57:52

        Urgh. The system keeps converting my text to code: HEAD tags. 😉

      • Tom Southern
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:52:11

        @Lisa Thanks for getting back with this suggestion. I’ll give Jetpack a try first. And thanks for the tip regarding the coding. Cheers!

    • Aaron
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:51:40

      Tom, try a different plugin.
      https://wordpress.org/plugins/facebook/ for example.

      Hopefully you find one that works with your theme. But if you do find issues with other plugins, it really is time to get a different theme, or switch to a different platform altogether.

      Good luck.

      • Tom Southern
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:54:23

        Yup Aaron, you might be right.

    • Leonie Smith
      Oct 03, 2014 @ 17:53:32

      Hi Tom Yoast has messed with my Theme also, did it put your sidebar below your posts? And if so, did you fix it?

      • Tom Southern
        Oct 05, 2014 @ 06:43:52

        Hi Leonie, I added it to my plugins in my dashboard. I’ve not tried it again but maybe it’s time to do so.

  6. Oloyede Jamiu
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:46:59

    Hey Lisa,

    That’s a very nice look into metadata.

    I know many people still don’t make use of this to improve their content virality on social media.

    Social media posts with metadata would have a better chance of been shared more than the one without metadata because it would have well sized image plus a correct description which has been defined by the author before publishing the article.

    I have known this for a while and i do implement them on my blogs using the yoast SEO plugin. Many thanks to the team at yoast.

    In order to help more bloggers with your blog post, i will share the article on social media.

    Thank you for writing this article and have a nice day ahead of you.

    Regards,
    Oloyede Jamiu.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:12:19

      You’re so right Oloyede. Metadata is easy to overlook in the excitement of publishing a new blog post. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Peggy
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 11:48:57

    Oy my good golly! I have Yoast installed and I always fill it in for each post but now…oh why can’t I be at home right now…as soon as I get home I’m going deep behind the scenes to get this all configured correctly. And I love you for posting the suggested graphic size!

    Thank you!!
    Peggy

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:14:13

      Hi Peggy,

      Glad you found this helpful! Be sure that your Yoast plugin is updated to the latest version. They just recently added fields for Facebook and Google+ titles.

      • Peggy
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 14:42:09

        Thank you Lisa! I will have your article printed out as I go through and make sure Yoast is properly configured!

  8. Amandah
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:06:26

    Nice post Lisa!

    I’ll check my Yoast plugin settings. I thought I had Facebook, Twitter and Google+ configured, but I’m not sure.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:13:52

      Thank you Amandah. It’s so worth the couple minutes it takes.

  9. kathleen
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:14:43

    It sounded great until I got half way through the article and realized that it did not apply to me because I have a Blogger blog. (Unless I missed something?) Not everyone is on WordPress. An article addressing this issue for Blogger blogs would be great.

  10. Dave Nordella
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:40:58

    I had no idea that I was leaving so much social media food on the table! I hate waste and will start implementing the tactics that you suggest. Thanks for taking the time to write such an appetizing article.

    PS – This comment was written before breakfast.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:16:20

      Love the analogy Dave. Hope you’ve had a chance to eat! 😉

  11. Debra L. Butterfield
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 12:42:08

    Jon, thanks for making this so simple. I’ve been using a bit of meta data, but had never gone beyond installing the Yoast SEO plugin. Never realized all that other stuff was there. Now I just need to master the content. 🙂

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 19:17:49

      Yes, it’s quite the robust plugin Debra. Keep reading Boost Blog Traffic for content motivation — that’s what I do! 🙂

  12. Godwin Adams
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:08:10

    Lisa,

    You’re correct about how a simple tweak can increase a blog post shares. I got to know this recently, and just today I was looking at the Open Graph and Twitter card in the Yoast plugin. So I started doing some research trying to fix the pieces together.

    Luckily for me, Jon’s email arrived and when I clicked through, I was glad to know that today’s post is about what has been on my mind all day long. That was a ton of research you saved me.

    I’m happy to read your post. You’ve put everything that’s useful into this post, and I’m so glad that I now have a credible solution.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:18:26

      Jon has excellent timing, doesn’t he? So glad you found this post useful.

  13. Justin
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:32:17

    Love the “nuts and bolts” of this post.

    As a Genesis user, will there be a conflict between using native Genesis SEO and the Yoast Plug-In?

    Thanks Lisa!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 14:05:04

      I don’t believe so Justin. You may find that one set of codes overrides the other though.

      • Justin
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 14:31:12

        Makes sense.

        Thanks again for over-delivering!

  14. David Gillaspie
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:37:54

    Hi Lisa,

    Great post to make things work better, buy my blog theme runs on Genesis which us supposed to be coded for SEO. Maybe Yoast is a better choice.

    Thanks,

    David

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:33:23

      Hi David,

      Per my note to Justin, I’m not sure how the Genesis theme settings work in cooperation with Yoast settings. May take some trial and error. Good luck!

  15. Evan Davis
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:41:24

    Wonderful, detailed article. Thank you very much! The use of social media meta data had totally escaped me–I’m embarrassed to say! As I’m on WordPress, I’ll switch out my current SEO plugin for Yoast–something I’ve been meaning to do, anyway. Thank you again for this very helpful post!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:21:01

      Seems to be a common phenomenon among us bloggers. Good luck!

  16. Jevon
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:44:53

    Awesome. I never even realized metadata was involved when sharing with social platforms.

    I knew that the first 100 or so characters would be grabbed for Facebook, but I always thought that’s how it is, meaning you better hook the reader in the first 100 characters or else.

    Now I know you could have a great tag line when sharing. Thanks for this, Lisa. I’m definitely going to try it out.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:41:36

      Glad to have enlightened you Jevon! It’s definitely worth your time.

  17. Elizabeth
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:45:55

    Wow. I loved reading this and the insight you provided into how social media sharing works. You explained everything so clearly I’m excited to go give it a try. Well done! (For the record as a very unambitious blogger, I almost never jump right to making changes, but this just seems so intriguing.)

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:44:07

      Glad this inspired you to make the jump Elizabeth! I’m a big fan of ambitious bloggers. Go get ’em! 🙂

  18. Michelle
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 13:57:13

    Love-hate? Feels more like tolerate-hate which, unfortunately, didn’t provide the motivation to explore past the first tab in the Yoast SEO plug-in I’ve had for awhile. This post provides that motivation. You. Are the best. Mwah!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:45:29

      Heheh, I TOTALLY relate Michelle! Do it, do it! Maybe you’ll end up loving social media (maybe?).

      • Michelle
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 17:11:05

        I will…but not holding my breath.

        I was just thinking as I read your post that some copywriter (read “someone who reads”) could probably start a business called Done For You Yoast. Seriously. Add them as an editor and they can go through all your posts and perfect the SEO.

        Anyone?

    • Aaron
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 17:22:35

      Can’t respond to your comment 2 levels down, Michelle. So I’ll put it here. I don’t tout myself as a copywriter, but I do have a special interest in writing metadata. If you do end up getting someone’s help with this, make sure they start with the absolute foundation – keyword research. Sometimes, tweaking headlines (and a few other elements as a result of that research) along with the metadata will get you an even bigger bang for your buck.

      • Michelle
        Oct 02, 2014 @ 17:40:11

        Thanks, Aaron!

      • Lisa Kasanicky
        Oct 03, 2014 @ 12:13:46

        Aaron, yes, I agree. Writing metadata does require finesse. I do feel strongly that titles and descriptions should be written for people first, rather than search engines. If you describe your post using precise “key words” (as opposed to researched SEO keywords), you’re just as likely to be found by a user searching for your topic. Yes, keyword research helps you refine those words but I don’t think it holds the value that did a few years back. Search engines get smarter by the millisecond. You agree?

        Thanks Michelle for engaging the conversation!

      • Aaron
        Oct 03, 2014 @ 12:50:37

        Michelle, yes, titles and descriptions need to be written for people, not search engines. And I don’t think it’s that difficult, either. Titles are easier then descriptions provided you’re using your audience’s language. Descriptions need to be consistent with where your traffic is coming from, reference the motivation of the reader, and then interest them in the larger piece of content.

        Keyword research done after a piece is published is backwards. It really should be done during the research stage, before writing any content. But if you are doing this research after you already have a piece published in an effort to improve your metadata, it can give you some insight into why a headline, for example, might not be working.

        As for being found by a searcher, it totally depends on the competition. You could have an optimally written post, but if competition is high, you’re going to have a harder time being found. With a large list of engaged readers, however, this matters less.

  19. Internet Local Listings
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 14:04:31

    These plug-ins make all the difference, seriously. Metadata is so overwhelming at first–it seems complicated and like one other thing you have to add to your already-full plate. It’s been something that has made a lot of difference for one of our blogs.

    But it’s unfortunate that right now, some of our other blogging endeavors have been on free wordpress sites. You can’t get the plug-ins unless you pay for wordpress.org.

    Oh well. You live and you learn, right?

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:47:31

      I agree it’s overwhelming … at first. Eventually though writing metadata becomes as natural as writing as a headline (and not always as challenging).

  20. Tam Francis
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 14:06:41

    First thank you for this descriptive post. I’ve had the Yoast plugin and Jetpack for a year and regularly choose my metadata for my blog posts, but are you saying that you can control your tweets and FB posts from your WP dashboard? Sorry if that’s a stupid question and I missed something. Oh, and something else I discovered that’s interesting is in Tweetdeck when you post a picture it automatically (must be?) fills in the metadata for the picture making it stay open and display and NOT be a line of code in the post.

    Also for authors out there that have a book for sales with an ISBN you can mess with your metadata attached to your ISBN.

    ~ Tam Francis ~
    http://www.girlinthejitterbugdress.com

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:56:51

      Hi Tam,

      No stupid questions, especially on this subject!

      Yes, Yoast first needs to be configured in your settings (takes all of one minute) and then, when you create a new post, you’ll see the “WordPress SEO by Yoast” section in the Edit Post view (double check your Screen Options if it is not displaying).

      Definitely write an SEO Title and Meta Description in the General tab and then the Facebook and Google+ titles and descriptions in the Social tab (Twitter pulls from the SEO Title and Meta Description).

      Be sure you upgrade to the latest version of Yoast in your Plugins panel. They’ve recently added new fields for the Facebook and Google+ titles.

      Hope this helps and thanks for the extra tips!

  21. Henneke
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 15:03:25

    Thank you so much for this post with such detailed guidance, Lisa. This was one of those things I’ve wanted to look into for a long time, but I kept putting it off. (you know how it goes…)

    I’m already using WordPress SEO by Yoast, so should hopefully be fairly easy to implement using your instructions.

    Thanks a bunch!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 02, 2014 @ 16:58:14

      Yes, I know how it goes… 🙂 Please let me know if you run into any roadblocks and good luck!

  22. Nick Baker
    Oct 02, 2014 @ 17:51:23

    Wow…like other commentators, I already have Yoast installed but I was unaware of the social settings. Durr! Thanks for bringing it to our attention:)

  23. Tim Gray
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 05:22:34

    This is a really nice intro. Social metadata wasn’t on my radar before, but now I want some of those nice informative shares!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 03, 2014 @ 12:15:07

      Glad it’s on your radar now Tim. Good luck!

  24. Bryan Collins
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 06:21:29

    Great post Lisa. It’s encouraging to read these types of tutorials after the disappointment of Google authorship. I use SEO by Yoast but I rarely look at the social settings. It’s on my To Do List.

  25. Leonie Smith
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 06:47:59

    Hi thankyou for your tips, but Yoast has broken my sidebar. It is now below my blog posts. I deactivated it, and then deleted it. I also reinstalled my theme and Genisis and WordPress…my sidebar is still under my blog posts. I’m tearing my hair out. I don’t know where to look in the style sheet but I figured if I replace the style sheet for my theme, it should have fixed any issues. And reinstalling the latest wordpress update and Genesis should have fixed it…but no. Sigh I wish I’d nver installed it. I see others here have complained that Yoast didn’t play nicely with their theme, Yoast basically won’t help me, I’m hoping someone here might be able to give me some advice, I’ve been trying to fix this now for 4 hours….

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 03, 2014 @ 12:21:44

      Yikes! Did you contact the folks at Genesis? I wish I could help. Asking around!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 03, 2014 @ 14:05:36

      Leonie,

      I spoke with a developer. Here’s his answer:

      The sidebar and content don’t have enough width to float side by side. To solve it, increase the width of the content/sidebar wrapper or decrease the width of the content or the sidebar.

      Does that help?

      • Lisa Kasanicky
        Oct 03, 2014 @ 18:19:15

        Leonie,

        I sent Yoast an email about another issue and they responded within a few hours. Click on Contact from this page: http://kb.yoast.com/

        From what my developer contact says, he knows this issue well. Here’s more from him:

        Sidebars and content use the CSS float tag. What is happening is… the piece of code that wraps around the content and sidebar has a width that is too narrow. Chrome allows you to “inspect elements”… find the wrapper… and increase the width, live, and you can see the sidebar pop back into place. Once you find the too narrow piece of code, you can add some CSS or go directly to where the width is set in the style.css.

        Does that help?

      • Leonie Smith
        Oct 03, 2014 @ 19:32:10

        Thanks Lisa, that’s what I’ve been reading also, but still bewildered as to why it has changed, and why replacing the style sheets with originals wouldn’t have fixed it? Thanks for your help know it’s not your problem. But folks should be very careful when activating this plug in, perhaps get a developer to do it. It’s clearly a bit buggy with some peoples themes. I read this from Yoast, which is why I said they won’t answer questions. https://wordpress.org/support/topic/read-this-before-you-post Also I’m not a premium user so figured I wouldn’t get any help. I will probably have to call a developer to help me with this. Your description will make sense to a developer but sadly doesn’t to me. I only know a small amount of html. I certainly haven’t had this happen with any other plug in I’ve ever used, and I’ve been building my own Worldpress blogs since 2006.

  26. Greg Butler
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 07:25:16

    Regarding the examples you gave for SEO by Yoast: Was that the premium version?On my free version, when I go to the Social tab, I see nothing there for Twitter.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 03, 2014 @ 12:32:51

      Hi Greg,

      The screen shots are from the free version. At this point, Yoast only *enables* Twitter social metadata; it does not have fields for you to enter a custom Twitter title and description per post like it does for Facebook and Google+. I sent them an email this morning asking if this might be included in a future upgrade.

      Now, if you have access to a developer, he or she can create custom fields for Twitter titles and descriptions. But, if you don’t (like most of us), as long as the Twitter metadata is enabled in the Yoast settings, Twitter will pull the data from the SEO Title and Meta Description fields in your post.

      Does that make sense?

      • Leonie Smith
        Oct 03, 2014 @ 17:46:08

        I’ve tried fiddling with that but nothing changes I have no idea if In changing the correct thing, and why it wouldn’t just go back to what it was if I’ve replaced all the style sheets? It is only in the individual blogs it makes me wonder if Yoast put some code in the html of my posts which hasn’t been removed when deleting the plugin. I’ve seen others on the comments for Yoast say that it did the same thing to their theme, but no mention on how they got it back. Yoast say they won’t reply to queries, you have to read the forum posts, or FAQ sigh. Not great customer service 🙁

  27. Marcie
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 07:53:11

    I had been using meta-data for years but I never knew the benefit of it outside of my blog. I just knew that I wanted a good, clear description for search engines. Thanks for boosting my knowledge today.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 03, 2014 @ 12:34:09

      Glad to help Marcie! Good luck!

  28. Vishnu
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 10:08:24

    Hi Lisa,
    A very helpful post indeed, every bloggers is not aware of these social meta description, however it can have a huge impact on our social media traffic.
    I was already aware of facebook and G+ meta description but wasn’t aware of twitter cards and about summary!
    I’ve one question, as you prescribed to use select the social while using yoast plugin and fill the details of Facebook and G+- title and meta description, I’ve done them both but what about twitter? There is no option to add meta’s for twitter? And can you please tell me when to use only summary and summary with large imgaes?
    Thank you dear 🙂

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 03, 2014 @ 13:04:29

      Hi Vishnu,

      Glad you found this helpful.

      Yes, customizing your Twitter title and description per post is not an available option right now in Yoast. (I contacted them this morning to see if it might be a part of a future upgrade.) I tested the two other plugins recommended by Twitter and they do not provide that option either. The good news is that if you enable the “Twitter card meta data” Social settings in Yoast AND you write an SEO Title and Meta Description in your post, Twitter will pull that data when you share a link to your post.

      Now, to your second question. A Twitter “summary” card designation is the safest bet for most blogs. This setting displays a title, description and thumbnail for your post (see CBS Sports example above). A Twitter “summary card with large image” is for more visually driven blogs (slideshows, photography, etc.) and displays only an image when the post is shared on Twitter. Users can click on the image in the feed for a larger view.

      Does that help?

      • Vishnu
        Oct 04, 2014 @ 04:21:02

        Hey Lisa,

        Got it, thanks a lot! The presentation of your post and to my answers as well is simply awesome. Loved your way of explained, all my doubts are clear now, kudos to you 🙂

  29. Holly
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 14:21:56

    Thank you! Just – thank you so much!!!!! I am in awe of how much I still have to learn about this and thanks for helping!

  30. Ryan Biddulph
    Oct 03, 2014 @ 23:20:45

    Hi Lisa,

    Brilliant post. I am a bit lukewarm on social media; I use it freely of course but am so heavy on blog commenting, that social takes a back seat.

    Knowing how to share effectively on social media gives me greater confidence in tweeting and FB sharing posts. Thanks for that helpful nudge.

    Layout and presentation are 2 biggies on social. If something looks aligned I may take a second look but if it doesn’t I ignore it. Like the author info popping up associated with that post above; if it doesn’t align we sense it and have no interest in looking further.

    With the whole organic reach death thing on FB this makes your post even more important. People need to see well presented posts to spread the word for you and your insights above will inspire bloggers to dress up their posts for social, intelligently.

    Love this. Thanks much Lisa.

    Tweeting in a bit.

    Signing off from Fiji.

    Ryan

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 04, 2014 @ 09:47:59

      Hi Ryan,

      I’m so glad you found value in this post. It’s not a subject that electrifies most bloggers but so worth the effort. Fiji, huh? Now that’s electrifying! Love your blog. Keep up the great work!

  31. Cucicucicoo
    Oct 04, 2014 @ 11:18:22

    Wow, this is so interesting. I already use Yoast, but had no idea about the social part of it. I set up what I could, but some of what I see is different. I checked and do have the latest Yoast version. When I go into a post’s Yoast SEO and click the Social tab, all that comes up is “Facebook description” and “Google + description” without the fields for title or image. Any idea why this is happening? Thanks so much! 🙂 Lisa

  32. Lisa Kasanicky
    Oct 04, 2014 @ 12:17:24

    Glad this was helpful! Yes, be sure that your Yoast plugin is updated to the latest version. They just recently added the Facebook and Google+ fields. Cheers!

  33. I. C. Daniel
    Oct 04, 2014 @ 17:56:42

    Hi Lisa,

    First visit, I love what you share so I subscribed for free report and more.

    Wow, your website design is very clean and very good looking, congratulations.

    Regarding social metadata and Facebook, I sometimes need to use the debugging tool to display correctly my pages on Facebook. I hate it 😀

    See you on your next updates.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 06, 2014 @ 12:23:13

      Glad to hear it I.C.! Thanks for reading and best of luck!

  34. Flora Morris Brown
    Oct 05, 2014 @ 14:59:41

    Hi Lisa,

    Wow! What an eye-opener. Thanks for the easy-to-understand detail.

    Even though I already use Yoast, I’ve now been encouraged to go deeper with it

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 06, 2014 @ 12:26:57

      You are very welcome Flora! Make sure you’re using the latest version of the Yoast plugin. They’ve added title fields for Facebook and Google+. Happy blogging!

  35. Jimmy Daly
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 05:33:26

    Thank you Lisa. This is my first time visiting your blog. I came across your blog by searching “how to get traffic to my blog”.
    I never paid too much attention on how important social media is these days.
    Thank you again for all that information. Finally I got some fresh ideas from you to improve traffic to my new blog.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 07, 2014 @ 11:42:16

      Hi Jimmy! Welcome to the best blog on the web for bloggers (IMHO)! 😉 Glad you found this valuable. Best of luck!

  36. Kostas Chiotis
    Oct 06, 2014 @ 11:43:57

    Hi Lisa, thanks for taking the time to explain more about social metadata. IT was something I had a vague notion of but your tips have made it a lot more clear to me.

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 07, 2014 @ 11:43:04

      You are more than welcome Kostas! Glad I could help.

  37. bbrian017
    Oct 07, 2014 @ 11:52:57

    Hi Lisa, thanks so much for making such a great post. For about 6 years I’ve always just used the All In One SEO Plugin. It appears it’s time to make the change and install the yoast one. I’ve gone and installed it and now I’m going to spend most my afternoon doing all the set up and detail work. This post is just a smashing one I really learned a lot. I want my posts to look better on Facebook and twitter and this is exactly how ti’s going to happen. I can’t thank you enough Lisa! This is seriously some awesome info!

  38. MaxRyan
    Oct 09, 2014 @ 02:53:40

    Hi Lisa,

    Your tips about Twitter are unique and interesting. Now a days, I am visiting this blog daily to learn new things. Thanks..!!!

  39. Muhammad Mairaj
    Oct 09, 2014 @ 06:38:24

    Hi Lisa,
    Yet again, another interesting post filled with lots of insights. Even though I already use Yoast, and i am happy with its results.

    Thanks for sharing such an excellent and informative post.

  40. Andrew M. Warner
    Oct 12, 2014 @ 13:58:22

    Lisa,

    This was freakin’ amazing. I’ve had Yoast installed for a while now and I never really noticed that setting. And while reading this post, I was thinking to myself, damn, it makes perfect sense yet I wasn’t doing any of it.

    Thank you for this post, seriously and now I’m going to go back and modify previous posts I’ve written and use this as a tutorial for future posts. Great job here.

    – Andrew

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 13, 2014 @ 09:46:57

      Glad you found this useful Andrew! Best of luck to you!

  41. Shelley Molitor
    Oct 13, 2014 @ 20:26:54

    Lisa, just trying to sort out why I can’t find the meta data interface in my word press. I contribute at two other blogs and see it in those sites, but can’t seem to find mine. Thanks for this headslap moment: “Duh, I do it for the articles I post on their sites, why not MINE!? ” Now to FIND it. Any thoughts as to why I’m not seeing it? Theme, settings, etc.?

    • Shelley
      Oct 13, 2014 @ 20:57:08

      Headslap number two! Working on Yoast not that I DO have it, ha ha!

  42. Lisa Kasanicky
    Oct 14, 2014 @ 00:57:54

    Hey Shelley,

    OK, so you found the settings in Yoast, yes? Make sure you have the latest version. They’ve added a few new fields in the Social settings. Let me know if I can help! 🙂

  43. jerrypat
    Oct 16, 2014 @ 06:37:15

    Nice post a love it .. Check out my blog. http://jerrypatblog.com

  44. Veggie Mama
    Oct 17, 2014 @ 07:07:46

    this was SO HELPFUL! thank you! I have been wondering what on earth I was doing wrong with Twitter cards – nobody had ever mentioned (that I read anyway) to check your wordpress profile. Bam!

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 17, 2014 @ 09:09:54

      Hi Veggie Mama! Glad you found this helpful. Yes, Twitter cards are so useful … once you figure them out. Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna, huh? I’ll have to try it! Great site! Thank you!

  45. Benjamin R
    Oct 18, 2014 @ 07:28:56

    This. Is. Just. Awesome! I hope this works for me too. Will definitely try these techniques that you have mentioned. Thank you and keep sharing helpful tips!

  46. John Zakaria
    Oct 19, 2014 @ 01:19:04

    Hi Lisa ,
    Thanks for sharing your useful tips about getting social shares for posts as social signals plays an important role to enhance the SEO rankings of the post.

  47. Mel
    Oct 20, 2014 @ 05:33:17

    I was getting very excited about this post too…but I’m on Joomla with Easy blog…any ideas?? Thanks Mel

    • Lisa Kasanicky
      Oct 20, 2014 @ 09:28:37

      Hi Mel,

      I honestly don’t know much about Joomla. I did a quick search on “Twitter Cards” and “Open Graph” in the Joomla Extensions Directory and found quite a few. The Perfect Open Graph Tags plugin looks promising. Keep us posted if you come across a plugin works well for you and thanks!

      • Mel
        Oct 20, 2014 @ 09:30:29

        Lisa, thanks so much for that, I’ll get cracking! Mel

  48. Mel
    Oct 21, 2014 @ 09:54:05

    Hi Lisa

    I just posted a blog link to my facebook page and saw that the page description I’d written in the back end of Joomla was showing up in the preview. (Thankfully I’d written it with SEO and readers in mind!) So, I think if you’re using Easy blog on a Joomla website, what you write into the metadata page description (for each blog entry) shows up in Facebook. And actually, as I clicked on the description of my blog that was generated in Facebook, I could have rewritten it before I hit post. Does any of that make sense? I hope so! (the post preview on facebook is at: https://www.facebook.com/workyourwords (the Gunning Fog Index post) if that helps you understand what I mean!) If anyone is on Joomla and wants me to explain more, just get in touch via my website. Thanks again for such a useful post Lisa

  49. Bill
    Oct 22, 2014 @ 23:55:36

    Thank you for the great tips Lisa. It’s really true that your article won’t go viral without the help of social media, regardless of how amazing your content is. I’m not really good at real-world socialization, much more on the internet. But I will give your tips a try. I never thought that social media platforms have this configuration so thanks for sharing this info.

  50. Designs of Home
    Oct 23, 2014 @ 12:01:25

    Thank you for the easy to understand instructions. I always wondered about the Social Section. I have a question: When I tried out the Twitter Card Validator, it said that I was not ‘whitelisted’ and there was a box to check for an invitation? What does that mean and should I do the validator again, and check that box of an invitation? Thanks!

    • Designs of Home
      Oct 23, 2014 @ 12:28:15

      oops… Thanks, I figured it out. 🙂

  51. Lisa Kasanicky
    Oct 24, 2014 @ 09:23:12

    Great! Glad you found this useful!

  52. Brandon Patros
    Oct 25, 2014 @ 11:12:40

    This was so detailed and helpful! It shows how social media can really make your blog shares explode and multiply! Covered everything I could ever need to know and shows how easy it can be when you break it down! Thanks!

  53. abdullah
    Dec 26, 2014 @ 06:42:44

    nice work man keep it up i am a regular visitor and subscriber of your blog very nice work best regards by Abdullah Ejaz Joiya of http://www.dazzlerack.com

  54. Astra
    Jan 01, 2015 @ 01:22:00

    Just wanted to say thanks for the super-clear instructions. Just what I needed to get my twitter card problems sorted out.

  55. Samaya Adelin
    Feb 22, 2015 @ 19:00:20

    Hi Lisa,

    thanks for for your great advice here, do you happen to know what the process for those that wish to create metadata but dont have a wordpress blog? My blog is integrated within my weebly site so id be interested to know how i would need to go about creating metadata through my site, thanks in advance! Samaya