Schema For WordPress

The way your website appears in search results certainly influences how many and what types of visitors you receive. Consequently, it’s important to seek out ways to enhance how your site is represented by search engines to drive more high-quality traffic your way. 

Schema markup can help search engines determine how to index your content accurately. This can help prevent your site from ending up on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for irrelevant searches. In this way you can drive more high-quality traffic to your website. 

In this article, we’ll explore what Schema is, how to implement it for your WordPress site, and what related resources are available to you. Let’s dive in!

What is Schema Markup?

Think of Schema markup as your ‘business card’ for search engines. It provides context to your content to help crawlers determine what it’s about. In the same way a business card tells potential clients your job title, Schema markup tells search engines what things are so they can be properly indexed.

For example, say you reference a name like “Jon Snow” in the text on your page. Schema markup tells search engines what this data means: is it the name of the post’s Author or a character in a television series? By clearly defining the structure of this data, you can present a more representative ‘business card’.

Additionally, Schema metadata is displayed beneath your headlines on SERPs. This lets searchers know how your content can provide the information they’re seeking. In the example above, Schema markup would help assure loyal readers of the writer Jon Snow that they’re not about to click on a pop culture article.

Schema vocabulary, or contextual data structures embedded in your page, can be used within several different formats, including JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa. We’ll cover each in more detail later in this post.

Schema for SEO

Schema can often be misconstrued as an element that helps boost your website’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While it is true that Schema does optimize how your site appears on SERPs and how closely your content matches what was typed into the search engine, it does not inherently increase your rankings. 

However, when users can see relevant contextual information about your website more clearly than others on the page, it may influence them to visit your website. You can use Schema markup to show features such as ratings, reviews, and related subpages all within the search engine results:

Organic search result for Fandango

Above we can see an example of the Fandango app on the App Store/iTunes. It shows how many reviews the app has received, its rating, price, category, and on which devices (iOS) it is supported.

Here’s another example from a Bar-B-Q restaurant that hosts regular events:

Serach result for events at Stubbs Bar-B-Q showing events and event details

Since the website for Stubb’s Bar-B-Q uses itemprop=”event” tags, when we search for “events stubbs” we see a nice list of events, dates, and titles as the first search result.

Remember, while websites using Schema do not get preferential treatment by search engines, they might receive more attention from actual users. The additional data structure helps a user to easily see whether the information on the page will be relevant to what they need or not.

Schema Vocabulary Formats

Schema vocabulary can be used to encode data within HTML frameworks. To get a better idea of how some of them work, we’ll go over three in detail: JSON-LD, RFDa, and Microdata. 

In order to standardize Schema vocabulary sets, teams from Google, Yahoo, and Bing came together to create consistency in their structure and terminology, and launched Schema.org. It is a valuable resource and repository that documents these agreed-upon sets of terms. 

This means, regardless of which format you use to generate your markup, search engines will understand it.

JSON-LD Schema

While Schema vocabulary is supported in several formats, JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD) tends to be the most commonly used. In fact, Google explicitly recommends the use of JSON-LD in their documentation. 

JSON-LD is a way to embed Linked Data using strictly JSON as a script on your webpages. An example of this format can be found when searching for “homemade apple pie recipe”:

organic search result for a homemade apple pie recipe

JSON-LD markup is what enables all the useful metadata – the rating, number of reviews, cook time, and calorie count – to appear in the search result. If you use the ’View Page Source’ function on this recipe page, you can see the JSON-LD used to display this information:

Metadata for apple pie recipe

Tags such as @type inform us this is a Recipe, and the author tag tells us it’s made by a @type that is an Organization named Land O’ Lakes. Further bits of data such as preparation time, calories, featured image, and rating are also assigned with tags.

JSON-LD Schema Generators

It can be difficult for those unfamiliar with JSON, JavaScript, or HTML to learn how to create snippets containing the metadata they want to display. Fortunately, there are generator tools you can use to create the JSON-LD Schema snippets for your website. Below are some of the best resources for JSON-LD markup:

JSON-LD can greatly enhance the information delivered by search engines to your potential web site visitors and search engine crawlers. These resources can make it easier to create that rich content.

Microdata

Microdata is another way to nest metadata within an HTML page. It can be used to give more context to site elements by creating a simpler tagging and inferencing system out of the HTML elements already present on your site’s pages. 

The goal of microdata is to make these HTML elements more machine-readable. Its basic approach is to outline the scope of each tagged item, tag the property within the item, and then state the value. Let’s take a look at an example of a simple piece of HTML: 

<p>My favorite animal is a giraffe.</p>

This would produce a simple new line of text on a web page, with the sentence “My favorite animal is a giraffe.” In order to demonstrate how microdata works, we’ll add an attribute to define the scope: 

<div itemscope>
 <p>My favorite animal is a giraffe.</p>
</div>

Now we know that everything within the itemscope attribute is the ‘item’ we are dealing with. Next, we’ll add another attribute to tag the property of the item: 

<div itemscope>
 <p>My favorite animal is a 
   <span itemprop=”animal”>giraffe</span>.</p>
</div>

This example gives us a tagged representation of an item with the property animal which has the value giraffe. Also, it’s important to note that microdata attributes can be interrupted by other HTML attributes, such as font styles and links, without causing a problem with the reading of the microdata.

In terms of how microdata can impact your SEO, it’s important to remember that it’s not a magic pill that will increase your search engine rank. Microdata can, however, help define your content more efficiently and effectively for search engines to help it appear in more relevant searches.

RDFa Schema

Resource Description Framework in Attributes (RDFa) is a way for web developers to bridge the gap between what a human sees on a web page and what a browser or crawler sees. The framework does this by extending the usual HTML attributes without impacting what users see on the web page. 

A browser reads web pages via attributes such as headline and text while you view the rich content in the browser as the post title and author name: 

When you mark up your site code with RDFa you give the browser a deeper understanding of your content. Let’s look at an example of how RDFa can add machine-readable tags to human-readable content. 

Here is a simple piece of HTML displaying blog post content geared toward human consumption: 

<html>
<head>
  ...
</head>
<body>
  ...
  <h2>The Trouble with Bob</h2>
  <p>Date: 2011-09-10</p>
  ...
</body>

In order to help a machine gain some understanding of this information, we can add attributes beyond the standard HTML <head> and <body> tags by using RDFa. Keep in mind, RDFa uses full URL links to mark up HTML. This prevents any linguistic misunderstandings about an attribute, as any person or machine can click through and gain knowledge about the attribute. 

Back to our example. Here it is with RDFa attributes added: 

<html>
<head>
  ...
</head>
<body>
  <h2 property="http://purl.org/dc/terms/title">The Trouble with Bob</h2>
  <p>Date: <span
   property="http://purl.org/dc/terms/created">2011-09-10</span></p>
  ...
</body>

Now we can see that the post title is annotated with a link to the title and created attributes in a library of RDFa terms. Any browser or application can now gain an understanding of what a title is and that The Trouble with Bob is the title of this blog post.

How to Add Schema to WordPress

Now that we have explored what schema markup looks like, you may be wondering how to embed it on your WordPress site. There are a few different ways you can accomplish this task.

If you want to go the manual route, Torque’s guide for developers can help you engage in some Do It Yourself (DIY) Schema markup. Otherwise, you can use a WordPress plugin that automatically embeds it for you.

Schema WordPress Plugins

Using a plugin to configure your Schema markup is likely the most easy option for most users. There are a number of WordPress plugins to help you create rich meta descriptions and formatting.

The All in One Rich Schema Snippets plugin enables users to select what each page and post is about for a more structured search engine appearance:

All in ONe Rich Schema Snippets plugin

The Schema App Structured Data plugin takes it a step further and automatically configures Schema settings and data on your behalf, including a few high-level settings such as your logo, address, and type of company:

Schema App Structured Data WordPress plugin

While this is certainly more powerful than many other plugins and much easier than marking up your code manually, the free version of Schema App Structured Data onl supports snippets for ten pages. Unless your site is rather small, you may have to invest in the paid version to mark up your entire site.

There are also plugins centered around specific features that will add Schema markup to your site. For example, WP Product Review focuses on creating reviews and ratings, and also incorporates Schema for these elements:

WP Product Review plugin for WordPress

Similarly, KK Star Rating enables users to rate your posts, then adds the Schema markup needed to display this information in search results:

KK Star Rating WordPress plugin for schema

If you specialize in recipes, DIY and crafting guides, or product roundups, you may also want to take a look at Create by Mediavine. It incorporates @type tags like the ones we discussed earlier for a variety of different content forms:

Create by Mediavine WordPress plugin to add schema to WordPress sites

These plugins can help put Schema markup on your website automatically after a few simple configuration settings are saved. This will help you take advantage of the benefits of using Schema without requiring hours of time and effort to implement it.

Schema.org

Schema.org is an agreed-upon set of vocabulary terms used to describe website structure and data. Professional teams from Google, Yahoo, and Bing came together to create consistency in their structure and terminology. This means regardless of which format you use to generate your markup, search engines will know what it means because there is common language used in all of them. Head to Schema.org to learn more about the core vocabulary used in Schema markup.

How to Test Schema

After using a plugin to set Schema markup or manually configuring it yourself, you may want to test and make sure the search results for your website are appearing as you intended. Fortunately, Google has created the Structured Data Testing Tool for exactly this purpose:

You can either enter a URL to test existing Schema markup, or enter a code snippet to test it before using it on your website. We recommend using the code snippet tester to ensure all works as intended without errors or warnings before embedding the markup on your website.

WP Engine and Schema Markup

Here at WP Engine, our Digital Experience Platform is finely tuned for your success. With insights from our Content Performance tool, you can find inspiration and direction for your content. 

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