How do I force Facebook to use a thumbnail from my website?
A Guide To Getting Facebook To Show The Correct Image When Sharing Your Website – Part 1
This is part 1 of our mini-series on how to get Facebook to display the correct preview image when you share your website on Facebook.
If you want to skip through the explanation and get straight to the details on how to force Facebook to show the correct preview image then head over to How Do I Force Facebook To Use A Thumbnail From My Website? – Part II.
If you are looking for our post on what size and dimensions of images to use in your Facebook preview read our Facebook Link Thumbnail Image Dimensions blog post.
When you share a page on Facebook you usually have the option to choose from a list of thumbnails to display in the post. Sometimes one or more of these thumbnails are perfect for your post, other times they can be completely random.
Often they can be banners from the sidebar, user gravatars, background images or just generally make no sense to your post.
Here is an example from when we were developing our website. As you can see Facebook has used the wrong thumbnail and it makes no sense to our users on Facebook.
While you can choose which thumbnail you want Facebook to display by clicking the “Choose a thumbnail” option, you have absolutely no control over other users when they share you page. And to make matters even worse, when a reader likes your article, which is what we want people to do, engagement and all that. There will be no option to choose the thumbnail and your post will be placed on that user’s Facebook profile with a random and quite possibly irrelevant image.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could specify which image you wanted Facebook to use?
How do I force Facebook to show the thumbnail I want?
If you’ve pasted your website URL into a Facebook page and the wrong thumbnail or worse, no thumbnail appears…
For new sites that are yet to be scraped or cached by Facebook and for testing, there is a handy tool you can use to force Facebook to update its cache with your website thumbnail. Called the Facebook Linter or more properly the Debugger tool.
Entering your website URL into the tool and pressing Debug will not only force Facebook to re-cache your site but also display what meta information, including thumbnails it has detected.
Here is a screenshot of our site.
These aren’t the thumbnails you’re looking for
As you can see, those are not the thumbnails we want displayed in our Facebook posts. They are just images Facebook has picked from our front page.
Ok I can hear you ask. So far so good but all you’ve told us is how to show the thumbnails that we don’t want Facebook to display.
Well don’t worry, we are just getting to the fun part. Read on to see how you can force Facebook to display the correct URL when you share your web site in part 2 of our guide