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How To Add Open Graph Meta Tags To WordPress

How To Add Open Graph Meta Tags To WordPress


The Open Graph Protocol is a series of meta tags you can add to your webpage to allow it to become a rich object, used by social media platforms. In practical terms, this means you can use basic HTML tags to add key information about your posts, which social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ use to enhance how links to your site are displayed. If you have ever been browsing Facebook, for instance, and seen a custom thumbnail, title and description called out in your news feed, then you have seen open graph tags in action. Adding Open Graph to your own site can actually be fairly simple. You can do this by adding a function to your theme, or by using a plugin that can do the heavy lifting for you. In this article, we’ll walk through both of these methods.

How Open Graph Works

In order for Open Graph to work properly, you need to add a few meta tags to the head section of your HTML document. This is where information about your web page is stored, not visible to users. Each meta tag follows the same format; you assign a “property” a “content” value. After you have done this, various third party services, notably social media platforms, can use this information to display your content in a more meaningful way. Some of these platforms have a proprietary way of collecting this information, like Twitter Cards, but most use Open Graph as a baseline for information. So just by adding a little bit of data about the page a user is on, you can ensure that when your URL is copied and pasted into a social feed, it comes along with a custom image, description and more.

Open Graph example on Facebook

Open Graph in action

There are actually quite a few open graph tags that you can add to the top of your page. The full list can be seen on the Open Graph Protocol homepage and includes fairly esoteric use-cases like video, music, books, and more. However, for your standard blog post, you will probably only want to include some basic information such as title, description, image and URL. In pure HTML, this is open graph tags can be structured like this:

<meta property="og:title" content="Article Title"/>
<meta property="og:description" content="Article Description (One or Two sentences)"/>
<meta property="og:type" content="article"/>
<meta property="og:url" content="http://example.com/link/to/article"/>
<meta property="og:site_name" content="Site Name"/>
<meta property="og:image" content="http://example.com/image/src.jpg"/>

Adding just these few tags will give third party services a lot of data about your page, and will ensure that your article’s URL looks great and is accompanied by all the information readers need.

Fortunately, all of this data can be accessed in WordPress, so these tags can be added to the head section of each post automatically. You can either do this manually, or use a plugin for more advanced use-cases.

Manually Adding Open Graph Tags

To start off, we will walk through how to add open graph tags to your WordPress site using a couple of functions. All of the code that we will go over should be added to the functions.php file of your theme, though it can also be placed in a custom plugin. I’d recommend creating a child theme if you have not already, and adding this code to the child theme’s functions file.

The first thing we have to do is make sure that we have a fallback image in our theme, in case our post does not provide a post thumbnail. We will be referencing this later, but for now, create a folder called “img” in your theme or child theme’s parent directory and save this image as “opengraph_image.jpg”. Keep in mind, this image will be used whenever a post doesn’t have a featured image, so it should be something general, like your site logo. For instance, I will use this image:

Now that we have this set up, we can actually start adding our code. Open up your functions.php file, and scroll down to the bottom. The first function we have to add is one that tells third party services that there are tags other than pure HTML tags within the document. This lets Open Graph parsers read your meta tags properly. We can use the language_attributes filter to add this right to our html tag.

function doctype_opengraph($output) {
	return $output . '
	xmlns:og="http://opengraphprotocol.org/schema/"
	xmlns:fb="http://www.facebook.com/2008/fbml"';
}
add_filter('language_attributes', 'doctype_opengraph');

This will ensure that the proper doctype is added to our HTML. Without this code, most platforms would simply skip over our webpage, and the tags we are about to add would never get parsed. The next function is where we will actually add the proper metadata for Open Graph to work. The full function looks like this:

function fb_opengraph() {
	global $post;

	if(is_single()) {
		if(has_post_thumbnail($post->ID)) {
			$img_src = wp_get_attachment_image_src(get_post_thumbnail_id( $post->ID ), 'medium');
		} else {
			$img_src = get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/img/opengraph_image.jpg';
		}
		if($excerpt = $post->post_excerpt) {
			$excerpt = strip_tags($post->post_excerpt);
			$excerpt = str_replace("", "'", $excerpt);
		} else {
			$excerpt = get_bloginfo('description');
		}
		?>

	<meta property="og:title" content="<?php echo the_title(); ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:description" content="<?php echo $excerpt; ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:type" content="article"/>
	<meta property="og:url" content="<?php echo the_permalink(); ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:site_name" content="<?php echo get_bloginfo(); ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:image" content="<?php echo $img_src; ?>"/>

<?php
	} else {
		return;
	}
}
add_action('wp_head', 'fb_opengraph', 5);

Let’s walk through this. After defining a global $post object, so we can access post information, we first perform a conditional check to make sure that we are on a post page. That way, open graph tags will only be added to single post pages, where the proper data can be accessed.

if(has_post_thumbnail($post->ID)) {
			$img_src = wp_get_attachment_image_src(get_post_thumbnail_id( $post->ID ), 'medium');
		} else {
			$img_src = get_stylesheet_directory_uri() . '/img/opengraph_image.jpg';
		}

In this section of the code, we check to see if the post has a post thumbnail (featured image) to pull from. If it does not, we set the $img_src variable to the default image we saved above.

if($excerpt = $post->post_excerpt) {
			$excerpt = strip_tags($post->post_excerpt);
			$excerpt = str_replace("", "'", $excerpt);
		} else {
			$excerpt = get_bloginfo('description');

Just like our check for a featured image above, we check to see if the post includes an excerpt. If it does we ensure that it is returned in plain text. The “else” statement will set the $excerpt variable to the general description of our site if an excerpt is not found. That way, a description can be included no matter what.

Finally, we actually add the Open Graph tags, one by one.

	<meta property="og:title" content="<?php echo the_title(); ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:description" content="<?php echo $excerpt; ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:type" content="article"/>
	<meta property="og:url" content="<?php echo the_permalink(); ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:site_name" content="<?php echo get_bloginfo(); ?>"/>
	<meta property="og:image" content="<?php echo $img_src; ?>"/>

Each tag gives social platforms a little bit more information about the page that is being accessed, and most can be filled in using the WordPress API. We can use the post’s title as the title property, the excerpt as our description and the permalink as our URL. We define our type as article, and we use get_bloginfo for the site_name property. For the image property, we use the image source that we found above, a post thumbnail if one is present, and our default image if one is not.

add_action('wp_head', 'fb_opengraph', 5);

Our last step is to use the wp_head action to actually add all of these tags to the head section of our post page’s HTML.

Once you’ve added these functions, a basic version of open graph will begin to work on your single post pages, though this code can be modified to add more specific tags across different post types. But at the very least, you can ensure that when a reader copies and pastes your blog posts into their statuses or news feed, your link will be listed alongside a detailed image, title and description of the article and site.

Open Graph in Facebook

An Open Graph article post

Of course, there are more complex uses of Open Graph tags that are a bit more difficult to set up. If you want to access these features, it’s best to use a plugin that can do it for you.

WordPress SEO by Yoast is a comprehensive and complete plugin that does a whole lot more than simply add proper meta tags to your pages. It can be used as a complete SEO solution, and helps your site increase its search rankings by allowing you to customize all of the metadata about your site, and keeping an eye on important information that should be included in posts.

WordPress SEO Plugin settings

Setting up Open Graph

I mention it here simply because you may already be using it, or have a need for it on your site. If this is the case, then you do not need to worry about Open Graph at all, as the plugin can automatically add this for you. If you have the plugin installed, you can go to SEO -> Social and ensure that the “Add Open Graph meta data” checkbox is checked on the Facebook tab. The plugin also includes meta data for Twitter and Google+, all of which is automatically added, and customized for the kind of post type it is used on.

WordPress SEO also lets you connect your Facebook account to your WordPress site so that you can use the Facebook Insights admin to track the social analytics of your posts. And as an added bonus, WordPress SEO also lets you upload a default image that will be used by open graph on your site’s homepage, or on posts where a featured image is not included.

FacebookPlugin

The Facebook team actually has an official plugin that will add open graph tags to all of your pages. Simply by installing and activating the plugin, these meta tags will be automatically added across your entire site, including posts, pages, custom post types and your home page. In addition, this plugin can be used to add things like a “Like” and “Follow” button, can be used to connect your WordPress site to a Facebook developer app.

This plugin’s implementation of Open Graph tags is fairly simplistic, and does not feature things like default images, and rich media posts. However, for your average blog, it adds everything that you need.

WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol is probably the most powerful out of the plugins listed. There aren’t too many options and not much of a configuration, most of the work is done behind the scenes. It allows you to connect your WordPress site to Facebook using a Facebook username or Application ID if you are running a page. Then, you can select a default fallback image. And that’s about it in terms of set-up.

WP Open Graph Protocol Plugin

Just a few options

But on the backend, this plugin takes into account a lot of different scenarios by dedicating itself solely to perfecting open graph tags. For instance, if a post does not have a featured image, it will search through the post for a body image within it. Only when this is not found will it use the fallback image that you provide. The plugin is also compatible with just about every SEO plugin out there, as well as theme frameworks like Thesis and Genesis. So really no matter what you are using, WP Facebook Open Graph Protocol should work just fine. If you are looking for a complete solution that only deals with open graph metadata, than this is the one to check out.

Final Thoughts

WordPress has everything you need to get open graph tags working on your site quickly and efficiently. With a little bit of code, or with the help of a plugin, you can have this up and running in no time. And the benefits are tremendous, allowing your posts to be featured in a meaningful way whenever they are shared across any number of social media platforms. So use these tips to get open graph tags up on your site soon.

Article thumbnail image by IdeaGU / shutterstock.com



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