Anyone who runs a blog always want more of one thing – traffic. The traditional way of driving traffic has been to build backlinks to your site and inner pages.
Some bloggers are also using plugins to add Facebook “Like” buttons and such to their sites. However, these don’t take advantage of Open Graph which facebook uses to classify content. Worse, Facebook plugins can conflict if you use more than one on a blog. This is down to the different SDK’s and API’s used when the plugins were written.
The Max FB Seo plugin for WordPress
But regardless of what Facebook plugin you might be using, are all “Likes” created equal? Well, with the Open Graph meta tags used by Facebook to differentiate, it doesn’t seem to be the case.
Facebook Search now analyzes the web page or blog post that a link comes from to see if there is any relevant information it can use to better serve it to their “social graph”. That means it will connect information from various websites onto the Walls of facebook users based on their “social graph” and the meta data on those web pages. The “social graph” is how they are connected to friends based on “likes” and “comments” amongst other things.
If your webpages are properly tagged, it increases the likelihood of showing your website or blog to people who have an interest in those tagged items as part of your social connections or social graph. It can now share information from millions of websites with Facebook as the central hub for that information. There are currently more than 250 million people connecting to Facebook from external websites per month.
Integrating all this information has been problematical due to the different APIs that different Facebook plugins use. Peter Max (the developer) has struggled with this issue himself and finally decided to develop his own WordPress plugin to pull all these “Like”, “Comment” and “Open Graph” elements together. The beauty of it is that you don’t need to set up your own Facebook page. Your links are posted on other people’s fan pages when they “Like” or comment on your post and all your webpages are tagged with the relevant Open Graph metatags automatically. But there are some caveats…(see below).
You can see the plugin in action on any post on this blog (the “Like” buttons above and below each post and the “Comments” section below each post).
Some Things To Be Aware Of
In order to do it’s thing, the Max FB Seo plugin has to connect to Facebook. And that entails the bloody awful (in my opinion) OAuth authentication setup. Twitter uses this ungainly connection method too. To set up OAuth, you first need to have an account with Facebook. Then you have to set up a Facebook App to get an App ID and API Key to use with the plugin (actually only the Comments part of the plugin needs this) – but the plugin manual explains how to do this. In order to set up a Facebook App, you have to give Facebook your credit card number or mobile phone number. See what I mean about ungainly? This is not the plugin’s fault but Facebook’s for it’s lousy setup.
Once installed on your blog, you have to manually enter the Open Graph info in the boxes that appear below each post in the WP post editor (there are five required bits of information – Title, Description, Image (another weird facebook requirement), URL and Type – none of which is auto-filled). Without this info, the plugin will not add the Open Graph metatags to the post. The Facebook “Like” button and Comments box will still appear and work below each published post though. What this means is that this plugin is not really suited to autoblogs but is better utilised on blogs you personally update.
And, because of Facebook’s connection peccadilloes, you need to create a new developer app for each of your blogs (assuming each blog is on it’s own domain).
This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it plugin. There is the onerous task of having to integrate it with Facebook on each new blog it’s added to and you have to remember to add the Open Graph info to each post you publish (or have published).
On autoblogs, there are usually a few important money pages – where you earn the bulk of your income on that blog – and adding Open Graph info to those pages and posts specifically is probably worth the effort.
I think this could be quite a useful plugin but it’s one that needs to be used on blogs you personally update due to the nature of how Open Graph information is handled.
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