WordPress, Facebook, Open Graph, and SEO Plugins

One of the plugins I use on all my WordPress-powered sites is Jetpack. It’s chock full of features that provide a richer experience on both the front and back ends. One of my favorite features is Publicize, which allows you to automatically notify the various social networks when you put up new content. I’ve used it religiously since it launched and had almost no problems.

Until recently. Over the last week or two, I’ve noticed that any new posts I put up here haven’t been showing up on Facebook. I initially thought it might be because I’d added Google+ to my profile, since it was a relatively new feature to Publicize. Except that when I removed the G+ authorization, new content still wouldn’t post to Facebook.

A handful of Google searches later indicated that the problem might have something to do with the presence (or lack thereof) of Open Graph tags in my site header information. Another Google search, and I learn that Open Graph is apparently the new(-ish) protocol that social media sites use to convert your content into objects that can be placed in your social media streams. Facebook in particular seems to favor this, and apparently the problem I was running into is that they have started to more strictly enforce the use of Open Graph. If the tags are missing, your content gets blocked and never appears in your feed.

I thought it odd that Jetpack wouldn’t include ‘og:’ tags, considering their importance to the function of Publicize. Another search, and sure enough, Jetpack does include those tags. Only they weren’t showing up for my sites. One thread over on the WordPress support forums suggested that another plugin could be causing problems, so I reviewed my lists and came across one plugin type that could very well be causing the issues.

SEO plugins. On one site, I use Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. On another I use the All-In-One SEO plugin. Both have options for social media, but neither one had been enabled. I suspect what happened is that these were new options added in recent plugin updates that had to manually enabled. I hadn’t been aware of them and so hadn’t turned them on. A simple oversight on my part that caused issues with the communication between my site and Facebook, in particular.

I’ve got the social media options enabled in both places now, and so far the problem seems to be fixed. I actually like the way WordPress SEO handles it a little better than All-In-One. It’s more intuitive and seems to be more flexible, particularly in identifying the image associated with the content.

If you’re having similar problems, I recommend checking your SEO plugins first. Jetpack won’t insert ‘og:’ tags if you have SEO enabled, and that seems to be the problem.

4 thoughts on “WordPress, Facebook, Open Graph, and SEO Plugins”

  1. Hi Jim! I’ll reply here instead of in the ticket you sent to us: I provide support for the Jetpack plugin. Your post is right on: Jetpack does provide OG tags, but we turn them off to prevent duplciate tags (which Facebook doesn’t like) when other plugins that also generate tags, such as All in One or Yoast’s SEO plugin, are active. You can see the list of plugins that cause us to deactivate our OG tags here: https://github.com/Automattic/jetpack/blob/master/class.jetpack.php#L613

    As you can see, it’s quite a list! We try hard not to cause problems with Publicize, especially since, as you mention, it appears that Facebook has gotten stricter with accepting posts with OG errors, for Publicize and similar services.

    And as you rightly point out, some plugins don’t enable OG tag generation by default, or if they do, the default tags are incomplete and this still cause problems with Facebook’s debugger tool (here, for your reader’s benefit: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug ). As of yet we don’t detect whether those options are off or not (and in any case, we can’t validate of the OG tags are correct if they’re generated by another plugin), we only check to see if the plugin is on. That was the issue you were facing: you had the plugin active but not the OG tag generation. As far as I am aware, Yoast’s SEO DOES turn on OG tags by default, but not All In One (don’t take my word on it though, as this might change at those plugin authors’ leisure). In any case, I’m glad you solved this on your own, and feel free to let us (the Jetpack team) know of any other issues you may have, at http://jetpack.me/contact-support/

    1. Thanks for the update, Richard, and the clarifications on the details I forgot to mention in my post. From what I could tell, Yoast’s plugin only activates the social features when you install fresh. At least in my case, it did not activate them when upgrading from a previous version. A minor detail with interesting effects, thanks to Facebook’s new enforcement of OG protocols. :)

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