Facebook Doesn't Always Show The Most Current Preview & Description When Sharing a Link

Whenever we have finished slaving over the design and development of a new website, once the client has given approval and we launch, we naturally want to shout about our work and give the new site a boost too. One of the common ways we do this is by sharing a link to the site via our Facebook Page.

However, there are occasions when attempting to do so does not give the results expected. This was the case with the launch of a recent site.

A rather bland link from Facebook with out of date preview data and no image

Not a very compelling link to click on, is it? The lack of image is the biggest problem here, but the preview data is also from the old site.

Our first attempt to share a link to the new Norcotts Cider website resulted in Facebook showing the browser page title and META description for the old site, complete with no picture - hardly an inviting link for our Facebook fans to click on. This was despite the DNS changes for the site being made 36 hours previously.

We have had this problem before for websites that had only just launched, as Facebook caches data for many websites and only refreshes periodically, but we had never seen such a slow refresh before on its cache. The previous website was just a holding page and had been up for some time, so our guess is that for a page with little or no updates (like a holding page or static page website), Facebook leaves it longer before it refreshes its cache.

How to Force Facebook to Refresh Its Cache

Fixing this issue is really simple:

1. Go to the Facebook Developers Debugger Tool
2. Enter the URL for the page you want to refresh and click debug

The Facebook Debugger Tool

3. The tool will give you all sorts of information on the page you have entered, including an HTML preview of the page it has scraped - which can be very useful, but you don't need need to worry about any of it for the purposes of this fix

The Facebook Debugger Tool Results

4. Now refresh your Facebook page and share your link again - this time, the new, shiny fruits of your labours should be shown for all to see:

A much better link from Facebook to the site - with a higher chance of Facebook users clicking on it...

Much better - now showing the current META Description and Browser Page Title along with a striking image. Which would you be more likely to click on?
Pete Fairburn Posted by Pete Fairburn on

What do you think?