The WordPress Social Sharing Optimization (WPSSO) plugin aims to make your content more search engine and social network friendly. This is achieved by adding information those services can read to your posts and pages which is used to present your content in the best possible way when it is shared socially.
The benefit of this is that users will be more likely to interact with your content when it is displayed in the search engine results pages, or on social media networks. This is because it will be properly presented and accompanied by content such as images, hashtags, a title, and description.
This in turn can lead to more traffic to your site via the search engines and social networks, as well as more social shares, because your content will stand out from the other items that are published alongside it.
In this review we will be taking a look at the pro version of the WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin and exploring the features you get access to and how easy it is to use on your site.
Features and Usage
The purpose of this plugin is to make sure that your content is presented in the best possible way when it is displayed in the search engine results pages and posted to, or shared on social networks.
While a set of social share buttons can make it easy for your readers to spread the word about your content, if that content hasn’t been optimized for the various social networks, those social shares might not be getting as much exposure for your site as it could otherwise receive. That is where WPSSO comes into the picture.
Whether someone shares your content on sites like Facebook, Google+, or Twitter by clicking on a social share button, using a browser extension, or simply copying and pasting a URL into their post or tweet on a social network, this plugin will ensure that the excerpt of your content is displayed in the best possible way that makes the most of the features of the platform it is being shared on. This includes features such as Open Graph, Rich Pins, Twitter Cards, and much more.
The way WPSSO achieves this is by adding HTML meta tags to the individual posts and pages on your site. This means that when they are shared socially, the right content is published on the social network. This content includes elements such as images, post and page titles and descriptions, each with different lengths and dimensions for different contexts, as well as hashtags and author information.
Some highlights from the feature list of this plugin include:
- Adds Open Graph / Rich Pin meta tags for Facebook, Google+, etc.
- Validates image dimensions to provide accurate media for social websites
- Fully renders content, including shortcodes, for accurate descriptions
- Adds author and publisher profile URLs for Facebook and Google Search
- Customizable multilingual site title and descriptions
- Twitter Card meta tags
- Integrates with 3rd party plugins including WooCommerce, WordPress SEO, Easy Digital Downloads
The list of features and items that this plugin allows you to add to your WordPress posts and pages in order to optimize them for more effective social sharing is extensive and can be viewed on the plugin website.
Adding all this extra information to your content might raise concerns regarding site speed and increased page loading times. However, the plugin developer has carried out some tests comparing WPSSO with a selection of other well-known and popular plugins, with WPSSO reportedly the fastest loading of the group.
Those other plugins included All in One SEO, Contact Form 7, WordPress SEO, and Jetpack, which are more than likely plugins you may already have installed on your site.
Using WP Social Sharing Optimization
After uploading the plugin and entering the authentication ID to enable the pro features, the plugin adds a top level menu item to the WordPress admin dashboard menu entitled SSO. From here you can access the plugin dashboard and general settings.
As you can see the settings pages for the plugin have been designed using the familiar native WordPress UI making them blend in seamless with the rest of the core admin pages of WordPress.
Although there are a lot of fields and settings to contend with, most of them have helpful description tooltips which are activated by hovering over the help icon.
Through the publisher settings section of the plugin control panel, you can enter your credentials for the various social networks. This includes information such as a Facebook application ID, Google Search author link, and Twitter Card image dimensions.
As well as configuring the plugin for your site, each time you create a new page or post, you can also enter the meta data for that particular piece of content. This is all done by a new panel which is added to the post and page editor screens.
This part of the plugin allows you to define the article topic, title, and description, although the plugin does automatically populate these fields with your post content, however, you are free to modify them should you want to. There are also fields to allow you to enter the following information:
- Twitter Card description
- ID of an image from the media library for use with Open Graph, Rich Pin, etc.
- URL of an image
- URL of a video for use with Open Graph, Rich Pin, and Twitter Player Card,
This information is all stored as header meta tags for the post or page and is then read by the social networks and Google Search in order to present your shared content in the most richest way, to help it stand out from the sites listed alongside your content.
While the settings and options of WordPress Social Sharing Optimization look a bit daunting at first, once you’ve spent a bit of time becoming familiar with them, the features and implementation of this plugin does get less intimidating.
However, unlike most other add-ons for WordPress, the results of this plugin aren’t immediately demonstrable and it does require you to post your content to the various social networks in order to test out its functionality and determine exactly how it works. While this isn’t a criticism of the plugin, it’s worth pointing out for anyone expecting instant feedback when editing the settings, or unsure of how the plugin delivers its results.
The free version of WordPress Social Sharing Optimization is available from the WordPress.org plugin directory, which means it can be installed directly from within your WordPress site.
The pro version which we have been looking at in this review is available from the developer’s website or by upgrading the free version by entering an authentication ID. The price of the pro version of the WordPress Social Sharing Optimization plugin is $39 for one site license
A single purchase of the pro version can only be used on one site. However, 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.
There are no recurring fees for using this plugin with the price being a one off payment. There is also a 30 day risk free refund policy.
Support and Documentation
The documentation on the developer’s website was slightly hard to follow in places. Many of the internal site links opened in new browser tabs and often lead to different pages than what was expected. This included linking to the documentation for another plugin offered by the developer or displaying a page not found error.
Although the two plugins offered by the developer that were interlinked, WPSSO and NextGEN Facebook, are similar, it was confusing to be taken to the documentation for the latter plugin when looking for documentation for the former plugin, with it not being entirely obvious if this was intentional or not.
As well as the documentation, there are also detailed FAQs and if you spend enough time exploring the site, you should be able to find the information you are looking for. However, a bit better organisation could make using and getting started with WPSSO much easier. Also, if you do need help with the pro version, you can submit a ticket.
Final Conclusion and Recommendations
This plugin certainly has all the main social networks covered and will allow you to attach the necessary additional data to your site and its posts and pages in order to ensure your content looks as attractive as possible when shared on any of those networks.
While some plugins that add social sharing buttons to your site include some of these features, this plugin ensures that however your content ends up being posted on the social sites, the correct meta data will be included, such as author information, relevant links, and correctly sized images, as well as the title and description to name but a few.
If you want to get the most out of the social shares your content receives, and ensure your content stands out when it is posted on the various social networks, and listed in the search engines, then this plugin is a great choice that covers all the bases.
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