Last week Facebook did something really cool. They changed Opengraph Publisher Mark-Up for Facebook authors and pages.
Allow me to explain: You’re already accustomed to Opengraph tags and the wonderful benefits they provide. In fact, if I had to pick the two things I like best about Facebook, it’s Humans of New York and Opengraph tags (probably in that order). Opengraph tags have always generated nice rich snippet previews when you post a website link, which makes sharing and post reach much more lucrative (have you ever tried sharing a link with no Opengraph markup… yeesh!). But one thing has always been missing – Facebook page attribution. Opengraph tags will tell you the website URL, page title, description and of course, they’ll take you there, but until now there’s been no tangible link between said website and the corresponding Facebook page.
I’ve had this scenario happen on several occasions… another Facebook page shares a link to my website, but doesn’t tag my Facebook page in the post.
What’s wrong with that, you ask?
Dead honest: I’m greedy. Not only do I want the social referral traffic from that post, I also want them to tag my page so I can gain followers too. This new development solves that. By implementing a little bit of code on my website, I was able to add the article:author tag, which now places a nice little link back to my Facebook page at the bottom of each link preview.
*Claps hands* Bravo, Facebook, bravo.
While the article:author tag has been around for some time, this is the first time I’ve seen links appear in the Opengraph box. It may not be the silver bullet for gaining followers, but it’s a guaranteed link back to my Facebook page ANY TIME someone shares one of my site’s pages. But wait, it gets even better. Drumroll please…
This implementation is *somewhat* retroactive.
Several links that were shared prior to implementation of the article author tag, now display that very same author markup. This post (below) was shared to Facebook on June 9th, a full ten days before I implemented the article:author tag on my site (June 19th). I don’t know how far back it could potentially go for other sites & pages, and I’m not entirely clear why it even happened on mine (maybe 10 days is the magic number?).
How To Technically Implement Facebook’s Publisher Markup
One line of code is needed to specify that your website is linked to a Facebook page. Stick it in the header to ensure that it appears on all pages.
<meta property=”article:author” content=”Your Facebook URL” />
For my site, I opted to do this site-wide with my Facebook page by plugging said line of code into the header. You can also set individual Facebook profiles as the author using the same line of code (the link instead pointing to their Facebook profile). Note that to do this, each individual has to allow other users to follow them by changing their privacy settings. That can be done at https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=followers.
Alternatively, you can affiliate your blog authors with their Facebook profiles and set your site so that the article:author reflects the author’s Facebook profile (then set the default author to your Facebook Page, for any pages without individual authors, such as non-post pages).
As of right now I see three ways to implement this:
- Manually implement the code (what I did, initially).
- Set up a custom HTML tag in Google Tag Manager – I’m not 100% sure this will work, but I’m testing it now and I’ll edit this post with my findings. I HAVE successfully implemented Facebook’s re-targeting pixel this way, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes though.
- Is your site setup on WordPress? Favored SEO plugins All In One SEO Pack and WordPress SEO (Yoast) already have article:author functionality – you just need to make sure it’s turned on & set up.
WordPress SEO (Yoast) Setup
In WordPress, go to the “Users” tab and set up each user with the Facebook URL that should display for articles that they write (this gives them the option of picking their individual profile or a company/organization page). Joost deValk’s plugin automatically implements this article:author markup if this field is filled out. No other changes are needed.
All In One SEO Pack Setup
Do the same as in the Yoast plugin and add the Facebook URL to each user’s profile. Then, under the “All In One SEO” tab, scroll down to “Facebook Settings” and put a check in the “Show Facebook Author on Articles” box (this extra step effectively turns on the feature).
Note that these steps only add author markup for WordPress posts and not WordPress pages. To implement the markup on pages also, you’ll need to add the code elsewhere (one way to do this is by editing your page template).
What do you think of the new Facebook Publisher Mark-Up? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.