How to diagnose and fix a Facebook like button problem

March 24, 2015 3:17 pm Published by

Last week someone I know who helps run a really big website got in contact, asking my advice on an issue they were seeing with Facebook likes. Although I’m not privy to visitor numbers, but it’s probably in excess of 5,000 per day and has nearly 90,000 pages indexed by Google.

Facebook like

The problem they were having is this; although they have a fairly strong following on Facebook and stories posted to Facebook were getting a good number of likes, the Facebook likes displayed on the website itself was much lower, usually a handful.

The issue turned out to be quite simple and a result of a legacy URL architecture that included a number of parameters that could vary depending on how any particular page had been arrived on. When a new page/post was shared on Facebook it would often include a couple of parameters, such as this:

The problem was that the Facebook like widget used on the site is stripping out those parameters and so to all intents and purposes it was a different URL. The likes being displayed on the page where for (using the previous example) this:

And so the only likes being displayed were those registered by visitors on the actual page, not in Facebook; normally the total likes displayed on a particular page includes all likes.

Since the Facebook widget was stripping out the parameters from the URL, the solution was quite simple; when posting to Facebook paste the raw URL.

If you are experiencing a similar issue you need to look carefully at whether the exact URL being shared matches the one being used to display Facebook likes on site. And ideally you want to get rid of URL parameters whenever you can.

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This post was written by David