How to Fix the og:image Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing Critical Issue (with pictures)

If you’re paying attention to your search engine optimization errors you’re likely here due to Some Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing critical error. This error is caused by an og:image meta tag missing from your website and is identified by the All In One SEO Pack SEO Analysis. Facebook Open Graph tags are metadata (that is, data about data) that define how URLs are displayed when posted on social media platforms such as Facebook, for example [9]; if these Open Graph Meta Tags have not been set then the URL may not display properly.

In this post we’ll take a look at the Open Graph Protocol, we’ll review the og:image meta tag, we’ll confirm that some opengraph meta tags are missing (which directly relates to the Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing critical error), and then we’ll remedy this issue. Finally, we’ll take a brief look at the Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger and we’ll conclude with a quiz.

This article relies on WordPress and the All In One SEO Pack plugin (AIOSEO).

Table of Contents

What is the Open Graph Protocol?

Let’s take a look at the Open Graph definition on the OGP website:

The Open Graph protocol enables any web page to become a rich object in a social graph. For instance, this is used on Facebook to allow any web page to have the same functionality as any other object on Facebook.

While many different technologies and schemas exist and could be combined together, there isn’t a single technology which provides enough information to richly represent any web page within the social graph. The Open Graph protocol builds on these existing technologies and gives developers one thing to implement. Developer simplicity is a key goal of the Open Graph protocol which has informed many of the technical design decisions.

From the The Open Graph protocol website.

According to SEO expert Neil Patel [1], social media meta tags can significantly impact link performance on social media websites. Content marketing, in this case, specifically placing your content where large audiences exist, is a powerful strategy that can generate views and engagement in the form of likes, comments, and shares.

What are Open Graph Meta Tags and Why Should We Use Them?

The Open Graph Protocol is used to convert a web page into a rich object and is useful, in particular, when sharing content on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as well as in applications such as WhatsApp and Skype.

Open Graph Meta Tags help to facilitate engagement when sharing content — for example, Open Graph Meta Tags can help draw the user’s eye to a link that’s been shared so instead of seeing a raw link, as we have below

https://thospfuller.com/2020/12/09/learn-how-to-mount-a-local-drive-in-a-pod-in-minikube-2021/

we see rich content, which includes an image, title, and meta description.

A link to the article entitled "Tutorial: Learn How to Mount a Local Directory in a Pod running in minikube (2021)" using Open Graph Meta Tags and rendered in Skype.
An Open Graph Meta Tags Example from ThosPFuller.com rendered in Skype

As we will see shortly, adding Open Graph Meta Tags to a post or page in WordPress is easy enough to do using the All In One SEO Pack Plugin.

Open Graph Meta Tags Example

Open Graph Meta Tags are embedded in HTML and we can see an example of what this looks like by inspecting the source for a webpage that supports the protocol. For instance, below we can see the page source for the article entitled “Tutorial: Learn How to Mount a Local Directory in a Pod running in minikube (2021)“.

HTML web page source for the article entitled "Tutorial: Learn How to Mount a Local Directory in a Pod running in minikube (2021)" with the Open Graph meta tags highlighted in yellow.
Example Open Graph Meta Tags

Why should we care that an og:image meta tag is missing?

The article entitled “How to Optimize Blog Images for Social Sharing: An Intro to Open Graph Tags” explains why the og:image meta tag is important: missing an image could result in an incorrect image being used or no image at all. Missing an image will hurt social media performance and failing to maximize the potential of a share due to an issue that is easy to fix in WordPress results in a lost opportunity.

There are many articles that suggest how to maximize engagement on social media platforms and one recommendation which applies irrespective of the platform involves adding a picture. According to the article entitled “7 Powerful Facebook Statistics You Should Know for a More Engaging Facebook Page“, posts that include an image receive 39% higher engagement. This article is an excellent read and includes other metrics and references which are worth reviewing.

What is the og:image meta tag?

The og:image tag is used to display a thumbnail image when a link is shared on Facebook.

In WordPress and specifically for this article, the URL to the featured image in a post or article will be used as the og:image value. If this is not set then the AIOSEO pack’s social media default post Facebook image will be used instead. Since this value is not set, a critical issue is noted when we run an SEO audit. We have other options aside from using the featured image, and these are shown below and keep in mind that the setting applies to the entire site.

All In One SEO Pack: Social Networks: Default Post Image Source with a pointer to the Featured Image
All In One SEO Pack (AIOSEO): Social Networks: Default Post Image Source with a pointer to the Featured Image

The AIOSEO SEO Audit indicates that Some Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing

After running an SEO audit we now have two critical issues, one of which includes the missing og:image meta tag. If you don’t set a featured image on a page or post, the default image, which is not set, will be used.

Let’s take a look at audit results in the following image — note the red pointer which indicates that we have some critical issues to address, including some OpenGraph meta tags are missing.

AIOSEO All In One SEO Pack SEO Analysis SEO Audit Checklist with "Your Overall Site Score" of 90% and a pointer to two critical errors one of which involves the og image checker determining that the image has not bee set.
Your Overall Site Score of 90% is excellent but the og image checker indicates that there are two critical issues.

Next, we take a closer look at the critical issue details.

AIOSEO All In One SEO Pack SEO Analysis with a pointer to "Some Open Graph meta tags are missing." for the og:image meta tag.
The og:image Open Graph meta tag is missing.

To remedy this issue, we set the default post Facebook image in the AIOSEO Social Networks setting. The image below includes two red pointers that indicate where the change needs to be applied.

The AIOSEO Social Networks Facebook tab included here with a pointer to the Default Post Facebook Image which, when set, will remedy this issue.
The AIOSEO Social Networks Facebook tab is included here with a pointer to the Default Post Facebook Image which, when set, will remedy this issue.

Next, we refresh the results of the test and we can see that this issue has been addressed successfully. Be advised, however, that there will still be a problem if the image size is not compliant with Facebook image dimension requirements — we will cover this shortly.

The AIOSEO Technical SEO Audit score of 96% has improved after setting the Default Post Facebook Image and we have fixed the og:image Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing critical issue.
The AIOSEO Technical SEO Audit score has improved after setting the Default Post Facebook Image and we have fixed the og:image Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing critical issue.

Better Digital Marketing Campaigns Begin with Fantastic Technical SEO!

If you need help with Technical Search Engine Optimization (Technical SEO) then schedule an appointment with me, I'll perform a site audit before our call, and when we speak we can discuss my findings and plan a way forward.

The image below shows us that the Open Graph meta tags have been found.

AIOSEO SEO Analysis Advanced SEO Results with a pointer to the notification that "All the required Open Graph meta tags have been found."
All the required Open Graph meta tags have been found.

In the next section, we’ll take a brief look at the Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger.

Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger can be helpful when some open graph meta tags are missing

We can test the og:image meta tag link preview on Facebook using the Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger console. The Sharing Debugger requires that the user authenticates with Facebook, otherwise it is freely available for developers to test with.

According to [7], we can also use the Sharing Debugger tool to refresh scraped content — this is helpful when a website is undergoing many changes in a short period of time.

To run a test, enter the URL and then hit the “Debug” button.

Facebook for Developers Sharing Debugger with a pointer to the target URL text box.
The Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger console.

The test result below has pointers to the link preview as well as the og:image URL value.

Facebook for Developers Sharing Debugger After Debug with pointers to the Link Preview and the og:image url.
The Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger console after analyzing ThosPFuller.com -- note the link preview and the og:image settings.

Testing with the Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger is helpful when Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing

The initial testing that was performed for this article relied on the index page of this website, which has acceptable feature image dimensions, and hence no warnings were raised.

Ironically, this was not the case for this page, where the featured image size did not meet the minimum size constraints set by Facebook resulting in a warning being raised, below.

Facebook for Developers Sharing Debugger Page with a pointer to the first warning which notes that the image is too small; the second warning involved the fb:app_id missing property.
Facebook for Developers Sharing Debugger Page with a pointer to the first warning which notes that the image is too small.

The Facebook for Developers: Sharing Debugger has found two problems with a page analysis; for this article, we are concerned only with the image being too small. In this example the og:image meta tag points to an image that is not valid because it did not meet the minimum size constraint of 200px by 200px.

The lesson learned is that even though the AIOSEO pack SEO Analysis tests for the presence of the og:image meta tag it does not test that the size is correct and we must have both.

We can see the manifestation of this problem when we post a URL to our friends on Facebook, as demonstrated in the following example.

A Facebook post with the wrong feature image added by default.
A post on Facebook with an og:image meta tag value set to a featured image which is not the appropriate size -- this results in another image being used instead.

How to Fix the "Image Too Small" Warning in the Facebook Sharing Debugger

In order to fix this issue, the original image must be appropriately resized — this will address the “Image Too Small” warning. Note that I had to press the “Scrape Again” button, otherwise Facebook was pulling the cached image.

The Facebook for Developers page with only one warning which pertains to a missing fb:app_id.
A warning "the following required properties are missing: fb:app_id" and recommendation this it should be fixed for improved engagement when posting messages on Facebook.

Finally, when we post the URL to this page, we can see that the featured image is now used by Facebook and this is the expected behavior.

A Facebook preview of a message regarding the og:image Open Graph meta tag which has "1 Critical Issue" in the middle.
A preview of a message regarding the og:image Open Graph meta tag in Facebook which has "1 Critical Issue" in the middle.

How to fix the Open Graph WhatsApp Missing Image Problem

We need to go through an extra step when dealing with an Open Graph WhatsApp missing image issue and we’ll describe what this entails here.

Open Graph WhatsApp AIOSEO Settings for the Article (Default) schema in use with a pointer to the Article - Blog Post settings.
The Open Graph WhatsApp AIOSEO settings set to Article (Default) and Article - Blog Post.

Next we need to choose the image and then update the schema — we can see this in the following image.

Open Graph WhatsApp missing thumbnail solution using All In One SEO Pack Pro (AIOSEO) Edit Article and then Choose Image and finally choose Update Schema
Open Graph WhatsApp With All In One SEO Pack Pro (AIOSEO) Edit Article and Choose Image Update Schema

Next we’ll test with Google and check that the schema is valid.

Schema Generator: "Schema (JSON-LD Format)", "Schema Validation", with a red pointer to the "Test with Google" button with some sample JSON being tested
We perform a schema validation using the Test with Google option.

Finally we can see that the Open Graph WhatsApp image issue has been resolved by pasting the link to this article into a WhatsApp conversation.

The Open Graph thumbnail image displays correctly in WhatsApp
The Open Graph thumbnail is displayed properly in WhatsApp.

The experience of sharing links on WhatsApp will be improved considerably now that the Open Graph WhatsApp image issues have been reconciled. Recipients will see a nice preview of the link and if they have to go back in the conversation history to find it, the link will be easy to locate.

Open Graph Meta Tags are Missing Conclusion

This article covered two issues that came about from an audit that I performed on my website. Once this issue was addressed in the AIOSEO Pack Plugin I reviewed two pages and discovered that an issue still existed on one of them. Any SEO audit should not just verify that the og:image meta tag is present but also that the image is correctly sized — otherwise we’ll fix the problem, albeit not really.

For your entertainment, I’ve added a quiz in the next section. Not all of these questions can be answered from this article, see question #5, in particular.

If you enjoyed this post then I have other articles on SEO that may interest you as well.

Questions and comments are welcome.

Open Graph Meta Tag Quiz

  1. In the AIOSEO Social Networks option, what other social networks are available?
  2. Do Twitter cards use Open Graph meta tags?
  3. How can we validate our site’s Twitter card meta tag settings?
  4. Consider that a page is shared on Facebook and both the page’s featured image as well as the AIOSEO (Social Networks, Facebook) default post Facebook image is not set — what happens?
  5. Which should, in theory, result in better engagement: a picture with a face, a picture without a face, or a picture with an appendage, such as a hand or foot, but not including the person’s face?
  6. Is the use of stock photography better than no image at all?
  7. If we set the default post Facebook image in the AIOSEO Social Networks option does this override the featured image for a specific page or post?
  8. What other WordPress plugins can be used when some opengraph meta tags are missing?
  9. Can the LinkedIn Post Inspector identify one or more missing open graph tags?
  10. Further Reading: Review Facebook Open Graph best practices and recommendations

Addendum regarding the og:image page source location.

The following page source image demonstrates that the og:image meta tag is missing in the All In One SEO Pro block.

Example page source with a pointer to where the missing meta tag information should be located.
An example of the Open Graph meta tag data in the ThosPFuller.com page source.

Once the og:image has been set, we can review the updated page source, and the og:image meta tag will be set in the AIOSEO block, as indicated by the red pointers. This step has been included here simply to demonstrate where this meta tag should be found.

The page source now includes the Open Graph og:image meta tag.

 

The page source now includes the Open Graph og:image meta tag.

thospfuller

I am a Technical SEO Consultant and WordPress Specialist based in Northern Virginia. I am interested in software development, content engineering, and business. I'm originally from Chicago, IL, and currently reside in Reston, VA.