How to force Facebook to show images when you share links

Posted on July 31, 2019

 

When you share a link on Facebook, either by making a post yourself via the desktop browser or via the app, or whether you do it via a form of auto publishing, sometimes the image from your website doesn’t pull through correctly. This results in the link you have shared not looking particularly good on Facebook.

This can be frustrating, especially when you’ve gone to the trouble of ensuring your website contains Facebook’s Open Graph tags so that links shared on Facebook look good. Open Graph allows you to specify a photo, an author, the website name and a host of other bits of information that help to make links shared look better and, ultimately, increase their click-through rates.

The worst part about your website’s images not showing is that it can be completely random. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This is the nature of Facebook, I’m afraid.

The annoying thing is that once Facebook thinks your website doesn’t have an image, it caches that information. This means any further attempts to share your website’s link will only repeat the problem, with the image failing to show.

So what can you do about it?

Thankfully, while you can’t ensure that it will always work first time, you can clear Facebook’s cache and reshare your link correctly. Facebook has a tool called a ‘Debugger’ and, while that may sound like an Irish insult, is in fact a useful tool for flushing Facebook’s cache and ensuring your website link is seen correctly.

If you visit Facebook’s Debugger, you’ll see a box in which you can copy the link to your website’s page. Paste the link in here and click ‘Debug’. Facebook will crawl your site and present the information it has stored for the link, showing you all of the Open Graph tags. If your image isn’t displayed, you can click the ‘Scrape Again’ button to force Facebook to recheck the page, and reload the tags.

This should work first time, and ensure your image now appears. You will have to reshare your post on Facebook for it to display correctly, but once you’ve done that, it should display fine.

Note this trick also works if you decide to update the image on your website that goes along with your post, or page. Facebook will have the previous image cached, and running it through the Debugger and clicking ‘scrape again’ will force Facebook to check your website and update its cache.

The Facebook Debugger is an essential tool for anyone who shares content on their Facebook page from their website.

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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