In our last tutorial, we discussed Rich Snippets, and how you can use Rank Math to add a variety of Rich Snippets to your websites. In this tutorial, we are going to discuss the Social Tab, which is the 4th and last tab in Rank Math’s Meta Box.
SEO can take a while – rankings rarely happen overnight, and that means it can take a few weeks or months for the traffic to arrive at your site.
Social media is key to getting an immediate stream of visitors. It’s also a great place to get loyal subscribers and repeat visitors.
What’s more, there is evidence that social media activity correlates with faster and higher rankings. That’s not to say that it directly causes them – but we can’t ignore that possibility either.
When you (or your readers) share your content online, you can control how it looks. Major channels like Facebook and Twitter read the metadata on your site, and use it to create an engaging entry.
You can control the text and images that they use. Instead of a plain URL or link, they’ll show an eye-grabbing rich entry, complete with a headline, text snippet, and thumbnail image.
Controlling your potential reader’s attention is essential. Social feeds are full of noise, with thousands of other websites competing for clicks. Rich post types are an essential tool to get more traffic from social sharing.
Rank Math gives you the option to control the social metadata in all your posts and pages. It inserts the Open Graph metadata that these sites need to format your posts properly.
Inside Rank Math’s settings menu, there are options to set default images – these images will be used unless you override them with specific images for each post or page. That’s where the social tab comes in.
Here, you can select an image, write a title, and add a description.
At the top of the social tab, you can see there are options for Facebook and Twitter.
In the Facebook tab, you can edit the basic OpenGraph data. The Facebook team invented OpenGraph, but other sites use it as well – so the settings you enter here will be picked up by sites as diverse as LinkedIn and Slack.
Twitter has added its own extensions to OpenGraph, which allow you to control the size and type of “card” they create (that’s their name for a rich post).
So you start with the Facebook settings and then add extra options for Twitter.
Let’s go over the options for Facebook:
There are a total of 4 options in the Facebook Social Options.
Here you’ll choose the image that will be used when your post is shared on Facebook. By default, Rank Math uses your post’s featured image, but it’s recommended that you upload a separate image for Facebook Sharing. The ideal dimensions for this are 1200 by 630 pixels. If you don’t have a high-resolution image, you can use a low resolution one, but make sure the aspect ratio matches. Let’s choose an image by clicking the ‘Add Image’ button.
WordPress’s media library will open up. Drag and drop an image to the library, or upload one from your computer. We added this image as an example.
Here is how it looks after the image has been added.
If you want to change the image, hover your mouse over the image. You’ll see an overlay with the option of deleting the image.
The title is obvious. It will be the title of the share that will show up on Facebook. Rank Math picks up the post title by default, but you can always change it to something more suited for Facebook.
The description shows up just below the title, and the Title and Description should make sense together. Write a description that will complement the title as well as get your readers curious.
Add Icon Overlay to thumbnail
This is an interesting feature which overlays an icon on the thumbnail to attract more clicks. If you turn the option On, you’ll see 2 more options appear below it.
As you see the options are to overlay a Play Icon, which will your share look like a video, and a GIF Icon, which will make it look like that you’ve shared a GIF.
These options are pretty handy and can help you attract a lot of clicks. But beware, don’t use on posts that are not videos or GIFs, or you risk annoying your users.
Now that we’ve understood all the options, let’s fill up all the fields. Here is what we did.
Once you’ve added all the fields, you might think that it would be great if you could actually see how the post would look if shared on Facebook. We have news. You can!
If you scroll up in the options, you’ll see a “Facebook Preview” Button.
Click it to see a realistic preview of your post.
Now isn’t that handy? You can also change any of the options to have the preview update instantaneously.
Now let’s talk about the Twitter Social Options.
OK, so we’ve nailed the Facebook settings. Let’s move on to the Twitter options. Just click on the “Twitter” option at the top of the panel:
And the Twitter options will appear:
By default, the panel looks pretty bare. That’s because it’s set to copy the information from the Facebook page, and the standard “Summary Card with Large Image” card type is selected.
We can see what this will look like by clicking the preview button:
It’s pretty similar to the Facebook post.
Twitter supports several types of cards. They are:
- Summary Card with Large Image – you can see an example above.
- Summary Card – this one has a small thumbnail and uses the same information as the Facebook rich posts.
- App Card – this type of card links to Mobile Apps, with settings for iPhone, iPad, and Android. You can also choose the country – if your App isn’t available in the US.
- Player Card – this type is specifically for videos. The player card is the most technical type.
Standard Summary Cards are similar to the first type, but they’re a little less imposing. The image is smaller, and it’s less eye-catching.
Why would you choose a less attention-grabbing format?
Sometimes, less is more – especially when you’re trying to stand out from a noisy crowd. Google proved this with their plain text AdWords. At a time when web advertising was dominated by big blinking banner ads, Google recognized that “Ad blindness” was becoming a major issue.
People had become suspicious of flashy ads that “tried too hard”.
Their experiment paid off, and their ad platform rapidly grew to become the biggest in the world. But today, even Google recognizes that large visual ad types have their place.
Which format will work best for you? The only way to know for sure is to test. Try both, and see which one works better.
If you choose a “Summary” type, you can either use the Facebook settings or create new settings for Twitter. Twitter and Facebook appeal to different audiences, so it’s worth experimenting with different titles, images, and descriptions.
On the other hand, it’s possible to get a good response using the same settings as Facebook.
If you’re promoting a mobile app, the Twitter App Card was made for you. Its goal is simple – get people on Twitter to install your app.
When you release an app, it’s only natural to blog about it. You want to get the word out to get users on board. If people like what you have to say, they’ll install the app. If they really like it, they’ll share your blog post on Twitter and other social networks.
That’s a good thing – when people Tweet about your app, your message reaches their friends and followers. Some of them will be intrigued – a percentage of them will install the app too.
That’s great – it’s the essence of viral marketing. But runaway viral marketing successes are few and far between. To get the biggest impact, you have to stack the odds in your favor.
That’s where App Cards can help. They help you to increase the conversion rate – the percentage of friends and followers who go the distance and install the app.
How do they help? By addressing the biggest challenge that reduces conversions.
We all know that people hate doing things when it’s hard. Not everyone is bone idle, but we all have an aversion to extra work. And everyone’s short on attention in this information-saturated age.
Let’s take the extreme case – if it takes a hundred steps to fill in a form or buy a product, nobody would ever complete the process. Every hurdle reduces the percentage of conversions.
If it only took a couple of clicks, the conversion would be much higher.
How many steps would it take to install the app based on a regular tweet? Let’s follow the process:
- First, they have to notice the tweet in their busy feed.
- Then they have to read it.
- Next, they have to click on a link to your page or post.
- When they reach your post, they have to read it.
- Then they have to click on the link to your app’s page on the app store.
- Finally, they have to click on the “install” button.
That’s a lot of steps, right? Each step will lose people.
Here’s how the App Card helps:
First, it makes your tweet stand out from the others. It looks different from regular tweets and “summary cards”, so it grabs more attention.
Next, there’s a big button that says “Download from the App Store”. Readers can jump from step 2 to step 5. That’s a massive advantage.
Of course, there’s still a link to your blog post. People who want to learn more about the App can go to your post and read all about it. So nobody feels forced.
The end result is a huge increase in conversions from social shares on Twitter. It’s simple, really. By making the process easier, you lose fewer people along the way.
Great, so App Cards are an ideal option if you’re promoting a mobile app. How can Rank Math help?
Just select the “App Card” type and fill in the blanks.
The first setting is a description. Remember, you have a maximum of 200 characters, so make your description short and punchy.
Next, there are fields for each of the platforms your app supports. For each one, you have to enter the app’s name, its App ID, and the App’s custom URL scheme.
Finally, you have to enter the 2 character country code for the App store (if your App is not listed in the US app stores).
It only takes a couple of minutes to set up an App Card, and the benefits are perpetual. Every time one of your readers shares your post on Twitter, their followers will see the App Card, driving another wave of installations.
Twitter Player Card
The Twitter Player Card is designed to play your videos on Twitter. In other words, your readers don’t have to leave Twitter to see the video.
Well, when you reduce the number of hoops a reader has to jump through, you’ll get more of them to take action. That’s the point we covered in the App Card section.
Player Cards mean that a bigger percentage of Twitter users will actually watch your videos because they don’t have to leave Twitter to do it.
There are pros and cons to letting people play your video on Twitter. If you depend on getting people to visit your site (for ad revenue, etc.), it can be a disadvantage. People can watch your video without leaving their Twitter feed.
But there are ways to turn that issue around. You could use your video to make people curious about the other content in your post. If the video only gives away a part of the story, then you’ll get clicks. Because video is so engaging, it’s possible to drive more traffic than a regular “feature” post.
Maybe your overall goal is to get people to watch your video. So getting the click is less important. In that case, Player Cards are the best choice.
Player cards are the most complex card type because you have to provide some fairly complex technical details.
Most of the fields are fairly simple – like title, description, player size, and thumbnail image.
The complex fields are:
- Player URL
- Stream URL
- Stream Content Type (the MIME type for the file).
The player URL is loaded into an iFrame on the standard web version of Twitter (not the mobile app) – it should scale to fill the full size of the frame, and it should provide standard player controls.
The player must have a secure HTTPS URL.
Since Twitter is a cross-platform service, you aren’t allowed to use any plugins, including the once-universal Macromedia Flash. Fortunately, HTML5 provides standard video elements that are supported on all popular platforms.
In addition to a player URL, you have to provide a separate URL for the video stream. The reason why you have to provide a raw stream is that Twitter’s mobile App uses it directly. It doesn’t load the player – instead, it uses a built-in video client to play the stream.
Twitter’s mobile app currently only supports MP4 video formats.
Stream Content Type
In addition to the stream URL, you have to provide a detailed MIME type for the video, using the format outlined in RFC 6381 – Codecs and Profiles parameter for bucket media types and RFC 4337 – MIME type registration for MPEG-4 (these are web standards).
MP4 videos are not all the same – MP4 is just a container file. Just like a zip file can contain many different file types, an MP4 can contain many different varieties of video and audio.
MIME types are a way to describe the file type so that software can handle it properly – in this case, we need to tell Twitter’s Mobile App how to play your video. As a WordPress user, you don’t usually have to worry about MIME types – the web server handles that for you.
If the above sounds like gibberish to you, then you may need the help of a developer to set it up the first time. As long as your videos are all in the same format (same video codec and audio type), then you can copy-paste the values in the future.
So, this is certainly the most technical card type. It’s important to get the settings right, or else the card won’t work. What’s more, the card won’t become active until it’s been reviewed by Twitter’s team.
You can read more about the process here.
The standards documents in the link are pretty dense reading, even for experienced tech-heads who understand how video files work. If you aren’t familiar with this type of thing, we don’t recommend you try to tackle it yourself. It’s better to get a professional to do it for you – it will spare you a lot of headaches and trial and error.
Is it worthwhile? Well, we’ve already outlined how it increases the number of views you’ll get. Even if it only increases your views by a few percents, that can pay off quite quickly.