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Could Your Google+ Button Use A Little Love?

Google+ ButtonIt’s the small things in life that please me these days.

Whilst they’re not big in the scheme of things, they’re incredibly huge in my world as I know it.

My daughter learning new words; my son making headway at swimming; my incredible wife doing all that she does.

They’re all things that keep me going and inspire me to keep grinding away.

My mission from blogging is to help people find solutions to their problems.

I want to blog about every day life and about things that I’ve learnt online.

So, today I want to tell you about some issues I’ve had with a social media plugin I have installed.

I’m not really sure whether it is actually the plugin’s fault or not but at last I’ve found an answer and hope it may help you if you’re having the same problem.

The plugin I use for my social media buttons is Social Sharing Toolkit and for some time now it hasn’t been picking up the correct image for previews on the Google+ button.

I want it to pick up the featured image on each post but all I could get it to use was my header and the sidebar banners.

I’d thought about looking for another plugin, possibly a paid one, but this plugin does everything I need and more.

So the research began along with the experimenting…

Google+ Snippet

If you’re inclined to read the Google+ developers’ guide, you’ll discover that you need to have one of three things on your site in order for the preview (or snippet) to pick up the correct information.

These are listed in order of Google’s preference.

Schema.org Microdata

Schema.org microdata allows additional information or tags to be added to your webpage to identify things such as images, names and descriptions.

It helps search engines to understand what your web pages are about.

The Google+ preview uses the name, image and description to find the information it needs to populate the snippet correctly.

Open Graph Protocol

The Open Graph protocol was created at Facebook and similarly to Schema.org microdata, allows you to add more tags to your webpage.

The Google+ snippet will use the Open Graph information for the title, image and description.

Title And Meta “Description” Tags

If your website’s header contains title and meta “description” tags, then the Snippet will use these and it will attempt to find a suitable image on the page to use.

Best Guess From Page Content

If none of the data mentioned above is present, Google will attempt to find the best title, description and image.

My Google+ Snippet Solution

And there was the answer, Open Graph. The Social Sharing Toolkit plugin has an option under the Advanced options to add this into my header.

Open Graph Protocol

This will also let Facebook know which image I want to use as well with the Facebook Share button. A win win situation :-).

With the Open Graph option now turned on, a few seconds later and the Google+ preview is now picking up the correct image. Woo hoo!

OK, now I’ve got that sorted there were a few other issues with the Google+ snippet which needed to be sorted out.

Firstly, the title was showing twice and secondly some JavaScript and text had sneaked into the description and I needed to find a way to remove it.

Google+ Snippet Title

The title can be tricky because not only will your theme code contain the title of your post but some plugins you have may also add in the title.

SEO plugins such as Yoast WordPress SEO can sometimes be the culprit and there are a couple of things you can try to correct this.

With Yoast WordPress SEO, under the General section of the Titles & Metas settings, you’ll find Force rewrite titles.

Yoast Force Rewrite

If you activate this option, it can sometimes correct the problem.

Another option which may help is to leave the SEO title blank when completing SEO information on the post itself.

Yoast SEO Title

You can still complete the Focus keyword and Meta Description without any problems.

On this occasion it wasn’t the SEO plugin however, it was CommentLuv Premium, my favourite plugin of all time.

When I had turned on the Open Graph option under Social Sharing Toolkit plugin, CommentLuv Premium was duplicating this.

There is a handy place to turn this off under the CommentLuv Premium options though.

CommentLuv Technical Settings

CommentLuv doesn’t specify the image tag though as far as I could see in the code so the Social Sharing Toolkit plugin Open Graph code is more suitable for me.

I also switched off the Google+, Twitter and Facebook likes from being run by CommentLuv Premium as they are already being run by the Social Sharing Toolkit plugin.

It’s probably not wise to have these loading twice as it may slow things down!

And now, I have the correct title showing in the Google+ snippet.

Google+ Description

Without knowing too much about code I thought the description was going to be more of a problem.

However, I discovered that there’s a really easy way to sort out the description part of the Google+ preview.

When you are writing or editing a post, if you click on the Screen option drop down menu, you’ll find the Excerpt option.

WordPress Excerpt

If you click on that, you’ll find an Excerpt section which you can fill in to define the wording you want to show in your Google+ snippet.

You should bear in mind that if you show an excerpt of your post on your Homepage this will also decide the wording shown there too.

The big plus though is if you have social buttons above your post and some JavaScript is showing in your Google+ snippet, this will disappear as soon as you add your required text into Excerpt.

Et voilà. My Google+ preview is now showing up exactly how I want it to.

If you don’t use any of these plugins but are experiencing similar problems, you could try using a plugin which adds Schema.org Microdata or Open Graph protocol to your WordPress site.

You can search for suitable plugins on the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Does Your Google+ Button Need Some Love?

So, how is your Google+ preview looking? Have you got it working correctly? Can I be of any help?

Drop me a line if I can and let’s see if we can find a solution.

P.S. Please share this on your favourite social media network if you’re feeling sociable :-)!

  • http://writeclever.com/ Sue Neal

    Hi Tim,

    Must admit my heart sank a bit as I read this because all this techie stuff gives me a BIG headache. I’d been thinking about changing to the social sharing plugin Adrienne recommended on her blog recently, which is supposed to give you more flexibility, but I’m a bit nervous about changing my existing plugin. I use AddThis at the moment and it seems to be working ok – it’s fairly basic, but on a positive note it’s updated pretty regularly. And as the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke……

    I’m always impressed by your grasp of these technical issues – it’s really not my strong point. If you spot a problem with my social sharing links on my blog, do let me know and I’ll have to have a re-think. I’m going to let sleeping dogs lie for now.

    Thanks for an interesting share, Tim – at least I know where to come for advice if I have problems!

    Sue

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Sue

      Your plugin works absolutely fine with the Google+ button which is great :-).

      I think the problem I’m having is that I have a number of different plugins which are duplicating certain things.

      It can be hard to find out which plugin is the culprit though and to find the right solution!

      I’m sorry if I gave you a big headache. I wanted to let everyone know about the Google+ button problem but at the same time not make it too technical.

      If you ever need any help though, you only need to ask :-).

      Tim

      • http://writeclever.com/ Sue Neal

        Ah, thanks Tim for that reassuring reply – and I sure will (ask, that is!)

        Sue

  • Theodore Nwangene

    Hi Tim,
    Happy new week, how was your weekend?

    This is a very interesting post i must say, The truth is that I’ve never paid much attention to this on my blog, and i really agree with you on the impact those little things can make on our life and business.

    But we seldomly pay less attention to them. I love this post indeed and I’m going to check out mine now to see how it looks.

    And of cause, i will let you know if i need your assistance.

    Thanks for sharing Tim and have a productive week.

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Theodore

      I had a great weekend thank you. How was yours?

      My Google+ button was becoming a pain truth be told Theodore.

      Whenever anyone shared anything, it was picking up my blog header, the title appeared twice and the excerpt had some random text in it before the actual text I wanted to be shown. That doesn’t look good! Still, at least I’ve sorted it out now.

      The title on your Google+ preview is showing twice when I click on the Google+ button. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed. Do you use the Yoast SEO plugin? That may be the culprit.

      • Theodore Nwangene

        Wow Tim,
        Haven’t noticed that, and yes I have yoast. What should I do about it?

        Thanks for letting me know.

        • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

          Hey Theodore

          It may not be Yoast but we could start there. There’s a few things you could try as it may not be Open Graph tags that are being duplicated.

          1. In the Titles & Metas options – General section, try turning on Force rewrite titles;
          2. In the Social options – untick Add OpenGraph meta data if this is ticked;
          3. In the Titles & Metas options Post Types section, add the Title Template for Pages and Posts as %%title%%
          4. As a last resort you could remove the SEO title on the WordPress SEO Yoast section on your actual post.

          The final option is a last resort because it will probably be another plugin, possibly even CommentLuv which is making the title show twice.

          Let me know how you get on with the above suggestions and if any of them solve the problem. You should try each one in turn, rather than all of them at once. If not, we’ll need to look at your other plugins.

          • Theodore Nwangene

            Ok Tim,
            I will give it a shot, and will let u know how it goes.

            Thanks a lot.

          • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

            Hey Theodore

            How did you get on? Did any of them work for you?

          • Theodore Nwangene

            I have done as you suggested but its still like that. I will try removing the SEO title on the WordPress SEO Yoast section in my next post.

            Or is there any other suggestion? Thanks for letting me know about this Tim.

            Happy new month

          • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

            Hey Theodore

            At least we gave Yoast a try.

            It will definitely be one of your other plugins which has an Open Graph tag as well as your theme displaying the title.

            I see that it’s working on your latest post though. Was that by taking out the SEO title? Or did you find a different solution?

            If it was then you could try turning off the Facebook Open Graph tags on CommentLuv in the advanced options to see if that helps?

            Sorry I’ve not come back to you sooner. I’ve been in bed with the flu!

  • Sapna

    HI Tim

    Great post!

    I never paid attention to the detailing after pressing the G+ button. As I was reading your post, I checked mine and it was working absolutely as you have said.So I’m a relieved person now.

    Thanks a lot for the great share TIm and have a great week ahead.

    Sapna

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Sapna

      I’m glad to hear that your Google+ button is working as you want it to.

      I think the most common problem is that the title of your post shows twice but it all depends on which plugins you have installed.

      Thank you for your comments Sapna. Very much appreciated.

      Have a great week too :-).

      Tim

  • http://inspiretothrive.com Lisa

    Tim, this is the stuff that drives me crazy too but I’m getting better at it. Mine is okay, you had me double check :) It’s amazing all the different things we have to do to blog, not just write. You have to become a techy type of person to survive without hiring someone for each little technicality that comes along :)
    Sounds like your kids are at such a fun age now! Have a great new week Tim heading into March.

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Lisa

      I know Lisa, this technical stuff can be a real headache can’t it?

      The Google+ button was driving me crazy but I didn’t really have anyone to ask so I ended up looking at it myself.

      At least it’s sorted now and how I want it to be :-).

      I ended up taking my daughter for an ice cream this morning whilst I sat and had a coffee.

      We’re counting down the days until the Easter school holidays as we’re going down to England to see my family and also to a holiday resort called Center Parcs. Can’t wait!

      I hope you have a great week too Lisa.

      Tim

      P.S. Thank you so much for the code for your eBook. I’m going to download it today and have a good read :-).

  • http://beingchirpy.com Aditya

    Hey Tim,

    I actually dint know what OpenGraph did until one of my friends told me that it could be used to identify images and other tags for Facebook, dint know it could be used for Google+ as well.

    Lol, in fact that is why I never had problems with the snippet.

    Thanks for sharing though :)

    Aditya

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Aditya

      I’ll be honest with you. I didn’t really know what Open Graph did either until I started looking at the Google+ button.

      At least we’re learning new things every day Aditya. That’s the way I like to look on it :-).

      Thank you for your comments. Much appreciated.

      Tim

  • http://www.mayura4ever.com Mayura

    Hi Tim,

    Now it’s a research process and comes out with different solutions very helpful to WordPress users :) Now that’s really helping mate.

    The OpenGraph is the best and easy way to use so far though along with metadata. Schema is yet kinda confusing and need to access pages individually to implement :) Google working on it to make it better. Let’s see ;)

    I’ve come across the problem of double title as I share posts of my friends on Google+ and I’ve let them know when it happens. However mostly the duplication of OpenGraph tags were ‘causing the problem – Sharing plugins, SEO plugins and JetPack. There I’ve asked ‘em to disable any other OpenGraph tags but leave OpenGraph tags generated by CommentLuv. It worked for ‘em though :)

    I’ve been using Yoast on a client website but had to disable OpenGraph support of it as it ‘causing troubles. I had to use another plugin for OG tags as CommentLuv wasn’t using there. Never used Social Sharing Toolkit, but as it works for you, I think it’s perfectly alright :)

    I hope many WordPress users will double check the Google+ share snippet after reading this one Tim :)

    Cheers…

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Mayura

      I agree. I got the impression that Schema was pretty confusing too. At least with Open Graph it helps with both Facebook and Google+.

      I was going to leave the CommentLuv Open Graph tags intact but they don’t seem to include the image tag.

      When I deactivated the Open Graph tags in Social Sharing Toolkit and left them active in CommentLuv the featured image wasn’t being pulled through again on the Google+ snippet.

      That’s why I had to do it the other way around.

      There are so many plugins that duplicate certain things, it can be a bit of a headache finding out which does what!

      I hope people do check their Google+ snippet after reading this as many people won’t even realise there could be a problem.

      Thanks for your comments Mayura and I hope your week is going well.

      Tim

  • http://necessityofchange.com Mary Stephenson

    Hi Tim

    I am like Sue, big headache! I have tried different things and I don’t know if everything is working to the best it could.

    I use Shareaholic and am happy with it, don’t use Yoast as I don’t like it. I use All in One SEO Pack and fill in the title, excerpt and keywords myself. May not be the smartest way but I am getting the choice of thumbnails when I post to Google+, Facebook, My Space, etc.

    So I don’t if I am getting the best juice or not, but it is baby steps for me as I try to figure all the behind the scenes stuff. Very informative.

    Mary

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Mary

      Your Google+ button is working fine with Shareaholic. It’s giving you all the correct information :-).

      I fill in the title and keywords on Yoast, along with the meta description but I wasn’t filling in the excerpt.

      I’ve not tried All in One SEO Pack although I think all the SEO plugins do similar things in the end :-).

      I’ve been learning a bit of CSS and html recently to see whether I can get my head around more technical things.

      It’s going well so far and I’m really enjoying it.

      Happy Wednesday Mary!

      Tim

  • Annie Andre

    Hi Tim,
    my google plus button has not been working for a while. It’s on my list of things to fix… It’s not really a high priority for me since I put all my focus on Facebook. To be honest i’m not sure if i will ever fix it at this point. I’m not realy seeing a good return from google plus.. I think i half expect it to die but i know that will never happen.

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Annie

      I noticed when I clicked on your Google+ button that it’s not linking to specific posts just your blog itself.

      It’s great that you get such good results from Facebook. It’s the one network I don’t use extensively, except for my personal account.

      I finally got 30 likes for my Facebook page the other day and I was really pleased! Oh dear :-).

      I hope Google+ doesn’t die! I find it a much more sociable place than Twitter and Facebook. There’s many more conversations going on there.

      Do you use Digg Digg for your sharing bar?

  • http://adriennesmith.net/ Adrienne

    I am so glad I don’t have this issue Tim or I’d be going nuts. Now for the longest time some time back my images wouldn’t pull in Facebook. It drove me nuts so I finally purchased a plug-in that I would tell it which images on which posts to pull.

    Now that worked for quite awhile but just recently it’s now giving me different image options which is not what I want. Luckily I’ve not had this issue with Google+. It’s always pulled in the correct image. It’s the other sites I’ve had issues with from time to time.

    Glad you have a solution for the particular social sharing plug-in that you’re using and now you can help everyone else who is using it too. Yay!!! You’re so smart.

    ~Adrienne

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hi Adrienne

      It was making me go nuts Adrienne for sure! I’m happy with the result though.

      Your Facebook image problem may well be to do with Open Graph as well I suspect. It’s strange how sometimes a plugin works and then a while later it starts doing something you don’t want it to, isn’t it? Have they updated it recently?

      I’m glad I can help people. That’s what I really aim to do. Learn something new or find a solution to a problem and pass on the knowledge.

      Thank you for coming over yesterday Adrienne. I always appreciate your visit!

      I’ve been to the zoo with my daughter this morning otherwise I would have responded sooner.

      Happy Wednesday.

      Tim

  • Dan Black

    This was a helpful post. I have never thought about how my Google+ preview looks but will check into it.

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Dan

      Thanks for saying that.

      Your Google+ snippet works fine with the AddThis plugin :-).

      I’m glad that you don’t have the same issues as I did!

  • http://aks-blog.com Ashvini

    Hi Tim,

    That is a great piece of information that is often ignored by people using social media. Open graph tags are must for sharing the right stuff on social media. In the plugin that I have developed, this feature is not implemented right now but I am working on creating a framework where og tags can be added with a lot of flexibility. I am sure I will check this post again to make sure that I do it right.
    Also if one is using many social media plugins and also comment love , tags may be duplicated as you told. So its a good idea to check the source of the web page once :).

    Thanks for this info . Have a great day :)

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hi Ashvini

      I didn’t know much about Open Graph tags until I started looking into why the Google+ snippet wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. I’m learning something new every day when it comes to blogging!

      Your plugin looks great Ashvini. I did check it out and it may be something I change over to in the future. Great that you’re creating a framework to allow og tags to be added with a lot of flexibility. That would be really useful and something I’d be interested in.

      I couldn’t see that CommentLuv has an og tag for images which is why I had to turn Open Graph tags off on CommentLuv and rely on Social Sharing Toolkit for them.

      My theme has an option for og tags as well but when I turned them on nothing happened. That was disappointing!

      Thank you for commenting Ashvini. I really appreciate your visit.

      Happy Wednesday!

      Tim

  • Khaja Moin

    I use Digg Digg and I didn`t find any difficulty till now. But recently I read a post that it decreases page speed. So thinking to change to AA`s Digg Digg an alternbative to Digg.

    ~@Khajamoin1

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Khaja

      I struggled to get Digg Digg set up the way I wanted it so I abandoned it a few months ago.

      It was at the same time that I got rid of the floating sidebar because I heard that it causes problems when viewing your site on a tablet or mobile phone. I get quite a few people viewing that way so it made sense.

      I’ve not heard of AA’s Digg Digg alternative but it sounds like it’s a good one. Less code, more speed, easier set up can only be going in the right direction!

      Thanks for your comments Khaja. Great to see you again.

      Enjoy the rest of your week.

      Tim

  • Aaron Brinker

    Tim,

    I have said this before over here and I will say it again…there is not enough time in the day to continue to learn everything we need to learn….sigh….

    I am having a problem currently with Google Analytic. I can’t get it to work at all on my site and I have no idea why…..I have been working on it off and on now for TWO months…sigh….I did have an idea about open source. I can’t recall when I ran across it but I know it was when I was looking up things for google analytic that i still can’t get working. Hey ….trade you problems???? lol

    Aaron Brinker aka DadBlunders

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Aaron

      I couldn’t agree more. Trying to fit everything is that I want to do and learn is proving to be tricky.

      I just started to learn some CSS and a bit more html and I love doing it but it’s something for the weekends!

      I had problems with getting Google Analytics to work on my site too.

      I now use the Add to All plugin which allows you to add code to your header and footer on every page and post without altering your theme code.

      That did the trick for me. It’s yet another plugin though so you may not want to go down that route Aaron? Let me know if I can help at all.

      Great to see you Aaron. I appreciate your visit.

      Enjoy the rest of your week.

      Tim

  • http://billdorman.me Bill Dorman

    Whoa; way above my pay grade sir, hopefully you found answers in your responses…:).

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Bill.

      You’ll have all of this to look forward to if you make the leap to self-hosted :-).

  • http://joshuawilner.com/ Josh

    I agree with Aaron. I need a much longer day and more time to devote to learning more.

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Josh

      Couldn’t agree more with both you and Aaron.

      There’s never enough time to devote to everything I would like to do. It’s becoming more and more of a compromise.

  • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

    Hey Tim,

    I haven’t paid attention to this at all, and now I have bookmarked your post so that I can double check it later today. Right now there’s something wrong with my G+ button, as it adds my title twice. I am not sure why, so I have to keep working to get it fixed.

    Thanks.

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Jens

      It sounds like you’re having similar problems to what I had.

      I think in most cases where the title is being added twice that Open Graph is involved.

      From what I found out, your theme usually shows the title as well as plugins like CommentLuv, giving you the duplicate.

      The way I got it to work in the end was to turn off the Open Graph meta information in CommentLuv.

      I’d be interested to know the outcome Jens. Keep me posted.

      How’s the weather in Norway? We’ve had snow in Scotland again today.

      • http://www.slymarketing.com Jens P. Berget

        You are absolutely right. I checked CommentLuv and found this “Prevent facebook meta:og tags” and that was it :)

        Thank you!

        • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

          That’s great news Jens and exactly the same thing that was causing the title to be duplicated on my Google+ snippet too!

          Glad to be of some help to you :-).

  • shafeeq

    This is a very interesting post i must say,
    The truth is that I’ve never paid much attention to this on my blog,
    and i really agree with you on the impact those little things can make on our life and business

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hi Shafeeq

      Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting.

      I’m pleased you found the post interesting.

      It can certainly be these little things that make us look unprofessional so it’s worth making sure we sort them out.

      Great to see you Shafeeq and I hope you’ll come and visit again soon.

  • http://joyhealey.com Joy Healey

    Hi Tim

    I’m afraid that’s rather beyond me at the moment! I’m using Shareaholic and Yoast – just hoping all is OK!

    Anyway, thanks for figuring all this out and if I find out later that I have this problem I’ll come back and sure your step by step approach will help. My most important job for the moment is to speed up my blog!

    Joy

    • http://tim-bonner.com Tim Bonner

      Hey Joy

      I wish you luck with speeding up your blog. I went through that a while back and I probably need to look at it again!

      Your Google+ button is working fine with Shareaholic by the looks of things so you don’t need to worry about that at least :-).