My Link Previews Don't Look Right?
However, the previews that we show in the Queue are not used in the final post when published, as Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn generate their own link previews independently, using information taken directly from the link that you’re sharing.
In This Article
- What Causes Incorrect Link Previews?
- Checking What’s Wrong With Your Link Previews
- How To Fix Broken Link Previews
- Common Questions
What Causes Incorrect Link Previews?
The link preview is controlled by the author of the web page you’re sharing, and by Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn.
The website author adds specific meta tags to the website, and Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn depends on those meta tags in order to render the link preview.
Here Are The Most Common Issues
- Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn could not find valid meta tags so they will not be able to render the link preview, or they may fill in the blanks using other information found on the website.
- The web page has multiple image meta tags. This may cause Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn to choose a different image to the one that you want to use. This often happens if you have a blog plugin that adds too many image meta tags.
- The website may not load quickly enough, so Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn will give up trying to fetch the preview, and publish the post with a broken link preview instead. The Facebook sharing debugger may mention a “timeout” issue. You should always ensure your website loads quickly and reliably.
- Some websites do not allow bots (such as those from Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn) to fetch your page if the URL contains Google Analytics UTM tags. This is normally controlled in a file on your website called robots.txt. You should edit this file to allow bots to load your site if the URL contains UTM tags. If you are trying to prevent bots from inflating your analytics, you should set up filters in your analytics software to ignore bots instead.
SmarterQueue simply shares the link, it’s up to Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, as well as the author of the web page, to determine how to display the title, description, and image in the link preview.
Checking What’s Wrong With Your Link Previews
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn each provide tools to help you debug issues with link previews 🤓
You can enter the link URL that SmarterQueue shows in the Queue, and see how the link preview will look, or what errors may be reported. Each social platform may require different information in order to properly generate a link preview.
Navigate to the relevant debugging tool below then enter your link to get more information:
- Facebook’s tool is the Sharing Debugger
- Twitter’s tool is the Card Validator
- LinkedIn's tool is the Post Inspector
💡The Previews you see in the Sharing Debugger or Card Validator are not guaranteed as they could still be changed by the Platforms.
How To Fix Broken Link Previews
Both Twitter and Facebook provide developer documentation for how to set up the correct meta tags on your website so that they can generate link previews correctly.
- Facebook: developer documentation and best practices
- Twitter: developer documentation and card troubleshooting guide
If you update your website meta tags, you can force-refresh Facebook’s cached version of your link preview by clicking 'Scrape Again ' in the Sharing Debugger.
💡Once a link has received more than 50 likes/shares/comments, you will not be able to update the Title shown in the link preview.
It may be possible to update Twitter Card previews by using the card validator again, though if that doesn’t work, Twitter should update the Twitter Card previews weekly.
Why does the link preview break when I add UTM parameters or Bitly link tracking?
When testing your link in the Sharing Debugger or Twitter Card Validator, It’s important to use the final link shown in the SmarterQueue preview, and not just the original link of your website or article.
- If you turn UTM tracking on, we add query parameters to the link (e.g. domain.com/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=facebook)
- If you turn Bitly on, we add a query parameter to the link, to make the Bitlink unique (e.g. domain.com/?utm_sq=123456789).
Some websites are poorly configured, and cannot handle query parameters correctly.
In these cases, adding UTM parameters or Bitly tracking may prevent Twitter or Facebook from generating a link preview.
We strongly recommend only adding UTM parameters to websites you control, as you may create a broken link to someone else’s website, without any ability to fix it.
For example, some websites have a robots.txt file configuration which prevents Twitter or Facebook from fetching any page that contains query parameters, or specific UTM parameters.
If you find that link previews don’t work when you use UTM or Bitly for your own website links, you will need to fix your website so that it works with UTM parameters added to the URL.
Alternatively, you can turn off Bitly click tracking for specific posts, whenever sharing links to that website.
Why do my link previews work SOMETIMES, but not always?
When you publish a post to Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, they will attempt to scrape your website to fetch the link preview, and then use the image, title, and description that they found, as the link preview for the post.
If they are not able to get a valid link preview within a couple of seconds, they will publish the post anyway, and it will have a broken link preview. However, they may finish scraping your website seconds after publishing your post, and stored the link preview description and image in their cache.
Unfortunately, the post that got published will still have a broken link preview forever. But if you share the exact same final link again, the platform will use the correct link preview from their cache, so this re-post will now have a valid link preview.
Bear in mind that if you use Bitly link tracking, we generate a fresh Bitly link every time, which the platform will treat as a new link, and they will try to fetch the link preview again. So if they still have problems fetching the link preview, this re-post will also have a broken link.
They will only re-use their cached link preview if you share the exact same Bitly link, or if you have Bitly link tracking turned off, and you share the original link to your website.
Why does the link preview use a different image to the post preview shown in SmarterQueue?
This usually happens is the web page has multiple image meta tags.
Most of the time, this will be due to a blog plugin that adds its own image meta tags.
Ideally, there should only be one image meta tag for the web page. You may need to disable some plugins if they are adding multiple image meta tags, and ensure you set the image meta tag correctly.
In WordPress, this is often done by setting the Feature Image – or you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to help you control your social meta tags.
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