AddThis Blog

An Intro to Meta Tags & How They Work with Smart Layers

Several prominent services use meta tags to enhance the experience for their users by showing rich content, such as images and descriptions, alongside the title and URL of your page. These tags let you control how your site is branded across social networks and help drive engagement. Once you add them your users will get a much richer experience and it will drive more people to your site.


Meta tags are placed in the <head> section of your pages and aren’t visible to users, but are visible to the scraper bots that social sites use to harvest the meta data. Because AddThis doesn’t control meta tags, you will have to add them to your site yourself, either by editing the pages or using a plugin for your content management system. The following is a brief summary of how different services use meta tags.

Facebook Open Graph

Facebook is the largest sharing service, and uses the Open Graph standard to determine the rich content that’s shown on Facebook when someone shares your posts. Because of this, the best place to start to determine what Facebook is sharing is their URL debugger, which is available here.

Pinterest Rich Pins

In May 2013 Pinterest released their Rich Pins framework. This allows users to create meta tags that will automatically update users of Pinterest with relevant information, such as movie times or updated pricing information. Unlike Facebook Open Graph tags, you have to apply for your rich pins to get approval.

Twitter Cards

Twitter Cards allow images, movies, and other information to show up in a Twitter post besides text. They use similar meta tags to the others mentioned, and will fall back to Open Graph tags when necessary. Like Pinterest Rich Pins, you need to apply to have your implementation accepted by Twitter.

Google+

Google+ uses something called Web Snippets to determine what content to share. They look for three types of meta data:

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, like other services, relies on the Open Graph tags to determine the content to share, though they only use a small subset of the Open Graph standard; the og:url, og:image, and og:title tags.

Smart Layers

Our own Smart Layers use meta tags to determine the image and title to display in the Recommended Content Layer and What’s Next Layer. We look for the og:title, og:image, and og:description meta tags.

Hopefully this post has given you a better idea of how to make the sharing your visitors are already doing more engaging so you can make the most out of the rich experience services are now offering.