How to Specify Featured Images for Facebook on your Blog Posts

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Have you ever posted a link on Facebook to one of your best blog posts, only for it to show one of the random images from your blog post instead of the perfectly-formatted image you created specifically for Facebook?

Or maybe you just want to make sure that the correct image is used as the thumbnail for your blog posts on your homepage or archive page. How do you specify the image?

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Thumbnail Examples

The answer is to use a Featured Image (partly).

The Featured Image (sometimes called a Post Thumbnail) is the image specifically chosen to represent the blog post in social media, emails, links, the RSS feed, and thumbnails. In some themes, the Featured Image will also show up at the top of each post as sort of a header image (unless you choose to turn off that option…this is all dependent on how your theme works).

If you don’t choose a Featured Image, one will be chosen for you from the images within your post. Keep control of how your posts are represented on social media by always using a Featured Image.

Just to make it more confusing…

However, you may want to set your Thumbnail to one image but use another image for your Facebook sharing. And/or, some themes don’t pull the Featured Image into Facebook after all. So, if either of these apply to you, scroll down to “Use the Yoast SEO Plugin to Specify Your Facebook Thumbnail.”

How to Insert a Featured Image

  1. From the right sidebar within the Edit Post page, scroll down until you see the Featured Image box.
    -If you don’t see the Featured Image box, go up to Screen Options on the top-right of the page and make sure the Featured Image checkbox is checked.
  2. Click Set Featured Image.
  3. Select an image from your Media Library or upload a new one.
  4. Make sure you have added all appropriate metadata to the image, such as Title, ALT text, and Description.
  5. Click Set Featured Image and then save the post.

How to Set a Featured Image

Featured Image Best Practices

  • Check your theme’s instructions for the best Featured Image size. If you cannot find that information, look for the recommended size of the Thumbnail and consider making your featured image the same ratio (but full size). For instance, if the Thumbnails are a 150×150 square, you might make your Featured Image 795×795.
  • Once you’ve chosen a Featured Image size/ratio, stick with it so that your pages will look consistent.
  • I like to put the important focus of the image (or the text within the image) near the center of the Featured Image. Depending on where the Featured Image is used, it is possible that the some of the surrounding edges could get cut off, so by having the critical “information” in the center, there will be less chance of the image looking bad. For instance, if the Thumbnails in your theme are squares but Facebook pulls your image in as a rectangle, the top and bottom section may be shortened a bit. If you use Facebook a lot (or another social media platform), you may want to consider using a theme with Thumbnails that are similar to the Facebook ratio (rectangles rather than squares).
  • If you want to choose a Featured Image to represent your post on social media but you don’t want it to show up on your actual post (for whatever reason), there are many themes that accommodate this. Look into your theme options to see if there is a way to stop showing the featured images on posts, and also look below the post on the Edit Post page to see if you can hide the image on a per-post basis.

Or Use the Yoast SEO Plugin to Specify Your Facebook Thumbnail

Have you decided that you would like Facebook to use a different image than your Featured Image? Or, is your site still sending the wrong image to Facebook (which may mean that your theme or one of your plugins is overriding the Featured Image)? If so, the Yoast SEO Plugin can give you control over which image Facebook pulls.

  1. After you’ve installed and activated the plugin, first go into the Social menu (from the left sidebar under Yoast SEO) and click the Facebook tab.
    -If no Social menu appears on the left sidebar after you click on Yoast SEO, go into Dashboard > Features and enable the Advanced Settings Pages.
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    Social Yoast SEO Facebook Open Graft
    Social Yoast SEO Facebook Open Graft
  2. On the Facebook tab, enable “Add Open Graph Meta Data.”
  3. Now that it is enabled, on each of your posts (on the Edit Post page) you will be able to scroll down under the post and see a Yoast SEO box. Click the Share icon (looks like a sideways V).
  4. From there, you can choose an image to be pulled by Facebook.

Yoast SEO Facebook Thumbnail Featured Image

Still having problems?

If you have tried the above steps and you are still having trouble, use the Facebook Debug Tool to see if you can figure out what is going on.

  1. Paste your URL (website address) into the box and click Debug.
  2. Is the correct picture showing up? If so, great! If not, scroll down a little bit and click the Scrape Again button. This will prompt Facebook to see if there is any new code since the last time they cached information about your site.
  3. Did that fix the problem? If not, there may be conflicting information being sent to Facebook about your site. For instance, you may have another Plugin installed that is also choosing an image for Facebook. Facebook finds images in your code by looking for the “og:image” tag. Scroll down to look at that line in the Debug screen. Copy the link it shows and paste it into a browser window to see if it pulls up the correct image. If it does, you may just need to wait a few minutes and click Scrape Again. Hopefully by then it will work. If it is still the wrong image, you can click the link labeled Scraped URL to see the code that Facebook is pulling from your site. When I went through this process, I could see in the code that some “og:image” tags were being created by another plugin from my site, so I deactivated that plugin and it started to work properly.

 

Do you have more questions about Featured Images? Post them in the comments below and I will try to find the answers for you.

And if you are interested in learning how to market your business or website on Pinterest, check out the Pinterest Marketing Guide!

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