By now we all know that writing great content paired with the correct usage of keywords leads to great SEO results.

But there is one thing that is equally important when writing your blog posts.

And that is making sure your content is optimized for social networks.

Why?

Because sharing content that is optimized for social networks will result in more re-shares, re-tweets, re-pins, likes, +1’s and most importantly, it will increase the click-through rate back to your site. And that is what’s important here.

Given the large number of social networks out there, and all of their different preferences, you might find it time-consuming to optimize your content for each and every social network out there.

Pinterest prefers large and tall images, Facebook prefers square images, Twitter has their own set of rules, so does Google… Not to mention the rules get even more complicated when you consider all the different type of media you might include in your posts.

So how do you make sure your content looks great on every major social network? How do you achieve uniform presentation across all social media that looks great and gets you the results you want without spending hours in Canva, Picmonkey, or Photoshop creating different-sized images to appease the big players?

What if I told you there is a way to do it right from your WordPress dashboard and all it takes is installing one plugin? Interested? Read on!

Optimize your content for social networks using the WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin

The WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin claims to optimize your content presentation across social media networks – no matter where your content gets shared it will always look its best and the best thing about it? It works with your preferred social media sharing plugin so you don’t have to worry about changing it. WPSSO comes in free and Pro version.

Today we take a look at how to optimize your content for social networks using the free version of the plugin.

WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin setup

To begin with, the first thing you want to do is go to your Dashboard > Plugins > Add New and search for WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin. Once it shows up click on Install and then Activate.

WordPress-Social-Sharing-Optimization-Installation

If you have WordPress SEO by Yoast installed, the newly installed plugin will warn you about conflict issues and ask you to disable the social settings used by WordPress SEO by Yoast:

How-to-optimize-your-content-for-social-networks-using-WordPress

Since we are going to be using the new plugin, go ahead and disable those features in Yoast’s plugin.

After disabling those settings, it’s time to set up WPSSO. It pretty much works right out of the box and there is minimum configuration to be done, however, there are some settings you want to double-check to make sure everything is working.

First things first. Upon installing and activating the plugin, your left-hand side menu will have a new tab dedicated to WPSSO. Hover over it, then click on General settings. It will display the basic options of the plugin, but you can also change that to display all the options by clicking on Display All Plugin Options at the top:

WordPress-Social-Sharing-Optimization-General-Settings-Page

If the plugin options look intimidating, don’t panic: every setting has a little question mark next to it, which, when hovered over, gives you the explanation of the setting:

WordPress-Social-Sharing-Optimization-Plugin-Setup

In the free version of the plugin, all you need to do is enter your Facebook page URL, your Google+ page URL, and set the preferred image dimensions which are already set at 800x800px.

WPSSO-publisher-settings

Open Graph settings are already pre-configured and can be further tweaked by purchasing a pro version of the plugin.

After everything is configured, the next time you go to write a post, you will notice the Social tab all the way at the bottom. From there, you can check if everything is displaying to your liking and you can even validate the presentation of your content across several different social networks, mainly Facebook Open Graph Validator, Google’s structured data markup, Pinterest rich pins and Twitter Cards.

WPSSO-validation-tools-tab

Although there is an Advanced tab under plugin settings, there is nothing you can do there unless you purchased the pro version of the plugin.

In case you need more help, or run into any issues, the plugin’s author has put together a very detailed FAQ page and Notes page which should answer any additional questions you might have and help you troubleshoot any issues you might run into.

And here is the plugin in action. From the screenshots below, you can see that by using the plugin, your posts look a lot better.

This is an example of how a post shared on Facebook will look before enabling WPSSO:

WPSSO-Social-Share-Before-Example

Below is an example of how the shared posts looks once the plugin has been enabled:

WPSSO-Social-Share-After

Free vs paid version

The paid version of WPSSO is available for $39 for a one site license. Should you need more than one license it’s worth mentioning that when purchasing multiple site licenses at the same time, the price per site is discounted, with more savings available the more site licenses that are purchased.

You also get a 30 day risk free refund policy.

Even though the free version of the plugin takes care of the necessary settings to produce optimized content for social networks it’s worth mentioning that by upgrading you get access to several more features such as:

  • The ability to modify the title and description for SEO purposes,
  • Access to 6 out of 7 Twitter cards,
  • Additional contact fields in your user profile,
  • Integration with 3rd party plugins such as WooCommerce, NextGen Gallery, JetPack Photon, and others,
  • Custom setting for meta tags for each post, page, and custom post type
  • Much more.

In short, by upgrading to the paid version of the plugin, you get complete and total control over the way your content is presented across all social media. That alone makes it worth upgrading.

WordPress SEO vs WPSSO

You might be wondering why should you upgrade to the paid version or even use the free version when WordPress SEO has several of these features integrated in their plugin. The difference between the two are huge. With WordPress SEO you don’t get integration with 3rd party plugins. If you want your videos to be optimized, you have to install Video SEO for WordPress (that costs extra).

Similarly, if you have WooCommerce installed for e-commerce purposes you have to install Yoast WooCommerce SEO. Out of the box, WordPress SEO supports only one Twitter card type, while with the paid version of WPSSO, you get six of the seven Twitter Cards, and using WPSSO App Meta — an extension plugin for WPSSO — all seven Twitter Cards are supported.

When it comes to optimizing the SEO description of your content, WordPress SEO and WPSSO will use the excerpt as a default description value. If one is not available, both plugins will fallback to using the content text, however WPSSO will go beyond that and apply ‘the_content’ WordPress filter to give a better / more complete description. The free version of WordPress SEO allows you to customize the description used for Google Search, Facebook, and Google+, whereas the Pro version of WPSSO is necessary to customize these values.

Conclusion

Aside from producing great content, nowadays it’s more important than ever to optimize that content for social networks.

By using the WordPress Social Share Optimization plugin, you can get great results and make sure your content is always displayed in the best possible way no matter which social network it gets shared on.

For complete control over your content display on social networks, take a step further and use the pro version of the plugin.

(Disclosure: this is a sponsored post but we only say good stuff when we REALLY mean it. Read more.)

Posted by Ana Lynn Amelio

Ana Lynn Amelio is a WordPress designer and freelance blogger. When she isn't busy running her own small business Ley Design she can be found reading, enjoying Italian food, and helping her kids go through not-so-secret cookie stash. Follow her on Twitter or say hi on Google+