This is Part 2 in a series of posts to help you understand these changes and take advantage of them. I am methodically testing themes, tools, and plugins that will cause a marked difference in the type and depth of content that Google can index on your site.
To help get you past the buzzwords into actually understanding what’s going on, I’ve included the real results of viewing the source code of a single post, plus every property indexed on a post with the Google Rich Snippets Testing Tool as I switched from a standard theme to Genesis 2.0. That way you can compare apples to apples.
In future posts, I will continue to do this same testing as I add more features to this setup and take you step-by-step into creating microdata for your own site.
The baseline for my testing includes a newly created site with WordPress 3.6 with the default Twenty Thirteen theme.
I’m using the default Hello World post, with the addition of a single image on it.
In my WordPress User, I filled in the Name section and elected to use it as my publicly displayed name.
This will give me an absolute baseline before I switch to the Genesis 2.0.1 theme.
Reading the Results
I have a rather diverse audience, ranging from bloggers new to WordPress, to SEO copywriters, all the way through theme and plugin developers. The test results are necessarily thorough. So, I’ll cut to the chase here for those who want to get just the basics.
WordPress 3.6 supports HTML5 and microdata in the core, the key word there is supports. It doesn’t actually add any microdata or schema markup to your site for you.
The easiest way to automatically add site-wide microdata is with a theme that has it embedded in its code. Genesis 2.0 gives you that, and you’ll see it in the results so you can compare the type of extra data it outputs to Google.
NOTE: The test that includes Genesis 2.0 is running directly from the theme that is in the framework. If you are using a child theme that has not been updated to take advantage of the new features, then you will not have gained anything shown here. You will have to go a step further. That may mean an updated theme or a plugin or tool to help you add the basics. I’ll be covering those things in future posts in this series.
To get even more info to display in Rich Snippets, you will also need to make authorship connections between your site and your G+ profile, plus add an SEO plugin, such as the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. I cover that in Part 3 of this series.
Everything you add to your existing setup gives you more candy for Google. If you do no more than what’s given in this post and in the Part 3 post to come, you’ll be far ahead of those who don’t do it, which includes the majority of WordPress site owners. (There are over 60 million sites running on WordPress.)
Read It All
I invite you to read the full post. Even if you’re not a coder or a geek, it will give you ideas about the type of microdata you can include. That’s important. At some point you’ll want to go beyond the basics and start tailoring microdata for the type of content you create. Future posts will include tools and plugins to help you do that.
Okay, here we go.
What Genesis 2.0 Adds
No schema markup exists in the source code of the Twenty Thirteen theme.
By simply switching the theme to the Genesis 2.0 framework, there are now eight instances of schema markup listed in the source code of a post. They are: WebPage, WPHeader, Blog, BlogPosting, Person, UserComments, WPSideBar, and WPFooter.
There are actually eleven available in Genesis that did not appear in the test of this post. The other three are CreativeWork, SiteNavigationElement, and SearchResultsPage. You’ll find that CreativeWork would be nested under WebPage when it is a page, not a post. SiteNavigationElement did not show because I had not added a menu to this site yet. And, of course I’m testing the actual post. So, SearchResultsPage would have not shown either.
NOTE: I listed the eight markups included in this test, and three additional markups that are available. Following, I list the other properties that you can add, or nest, into them. In other words, Genesis 2.0 gives you eight automatically. You can have more, but you’ll need to use another tool or plugin to create and nest them under these eight.
And, keep in mind that schema follows a hierarchy. An example is Thing > CreativeWork > Event. That means that properties down the line inherit elements from the properties higher up the chain.
Here’s an analogy to help all this make sense. If you know you are viewing a house, then you know the types of things you expect to see when you go into it. If you are viewing a barn, then you expect to see certain things in it, which are probably different from what you would see in a house.
So, if the first property is house, you would expect to see a lower property like coach. And then an even lower property like color. If the first property is barn, you would be very confused to see a coach in it, of any color. The barn property would have its own logical hierarchy of properties.
Most of these markups in Genesis cover items higher up in the hierarchy. And, it includes some farther down the chain that are super important for sites with blogs.
Whether you make use of the nested properties or not, by using the eight that Genesis 2.0 gives you, Google still has a better indication of what it’s indexing compared to not having this markup at all. That’s huge!
Genesis 2.0 Microdata
Below is a description of each markup in Genesis 2.0. You can click the link to visit the Schema.org page for more info on each one.
WebPage – http://schema.org/WebPage
Hierarchy – Thing > CreativeWork > WebPage
Tells Google that it is indexing a webpage so that other properties can be included. Here are just a few that can be used:
- mainContentOfPage – includes the main subject
- primaryImageOfPage – includes the main image of the page
- relatedLink – includes other related web pages
- breadcrumb – set of links to help users and Google understand website hierarchy
You can also markup more items that fall under the two properties higher in the chain:
- Thing – a physical item, such as a product, including name, image, description, and URL.
- CreativeWork – content – including secondary title, headline, author, media object, intended audience, audio, video, awards, citations, contentRating, copyrightHolder, copyrightYear, genre, keywords, publisher, and review.
This type of markup is obviously good for any page/post where you have a product or a review. And, it can also be used on your Author or About page, as well as your Contact page because the special properties like AboutPage are available specifically for them.
WPHeader – http://schema.org/WPHeader
Hierarchy – Thing > CreativeWork > WebPageElement > WPHeader
This is a WebPageElement that can include markup from Thing and CreativeWork. Tells Google that it is indexing a header, which has important info about your site, like the site title and tagline.
Blog – http://schema.org/Blog
Hierarchy – Thing > CreativeWork > Blog
This tells Google that it is indexing a blog post by using the blogPosting property. Now, all blog posts are also WebPages, but they have a few extra SEO perks. It can also include all of the properties from Thing and CreativeWork.
BlogPosting – http://schema.org/BlogPosting
Hierarchy – Thing > CreativeWork > Article > BlogPosting
This is one of the properties that just went white hot. Note that the full hierarchy makes it a sub-property of Article. That includes the additional properties of articlebody, articleSection, and wordCount.
The specific properties under BlogPosting include NewsArticle, ScholarlyArticle (with a sub-property of MedicalScholarlyArticle), TechArticle (with a subset of APIReference).
These Article properties are some of the things that Google is looking for to consider your post in its new in-depth article feature. It must be combined with other, specific markup to qualify for this perk, such as authorship, logo, and proper previous/next markup for articles that are paginated. And, it must be considered stellar content. (Stellar to Google based on their complex algorithm of how authoritative it thinks the author/publisher is.)
Here’s an example of how these posts are featured at the bottom of the first page of results for the keyword football.
Notice two things. Google only gives this perk to keywords that it considers to be a broad topic; in this case, football. Also notice who the content providers are: The New Yorker, ESPN, Grantland.com. Bet you may not have heard of that last one. That’s our hope. If a site reaches a certain level of authority on a topic, it can be listed next to the super big guns.
And then, there’s the content itself. For more on that, read this excellent post on The Moz blog by Dr. Peter J. Meyers titled Inside In-depth Articles: Dissecting Google’s Latest Feature. And then this post on Copyblogger by Demian Farnsworth titled How to Write the In-Depth Articles that Google Loves.
Proper Article markup is not necessarily easy, and there is at least one plugin that specializes in it. I’ll be reviewing it later in this series as well.
Person – http://schema.org/Person
Hierarchy – Thing > Person
This will help Google index more about you and is super for you to include on your About page.
Besides the Thing properties, Person includes these important markup properites: name, website, address, phone, email, title (job title), affiliation (organization/brand), image, follows (social relationships), and reviews.
Other markup properties include: alumniOf, award, faxNumber, globalLocationNumber, honoiricPrefix (Dr/Ms), interactionCount (userLikes, userComments, UserDownloads), makesOffer (for product or service you offer), performerIn (event in which you performed), workLocation, and worksFor.
The info in Person could also be a boost to your local SEO efforts.
Now, this schema markup does not tie in directly with Google Authorship. Notice I said directly. Somewhere in the Google algorithm they may reference one another. We don’t know. But you should have both setup. The easier you can make it for Google to index more about you as the author, the better.
UserComments – http://schema.org/UserComments
Hierarchy – Thing > Event > UserInteraction > UserComments
The Schema.org hierarchy for this one is important because it can include all the properties of Thing. More importantly, it can include those of Event, which has its own properties for Person. The Event property can help define what a person is attending. This is great for reviews for things like movies and restaurants.
WPSideBar – http://schema.org/WPSideBar and WPFooter – http://schema.org/WPFooter
Hierarchy – Thing > CreativeWork > WebPageElement > WPSideBar
and Thing > CreativeWork > WebPageElement > WPSideFooter
These are both a WebPageElement that can include markup from Thing and CreativeWork. They tell Google that it is indexing a sidebar or the footer of your site.
Like the header, these are common to all pages of your site. But, unlike the header, it is not always advisable to have Google crawl them.
Now, let’s clear something up before we go further. There is a difference between crawling and indexing. You can, and sometimes should, stop Google from doing both. Google has its own tags for telling it whether to crawl or index a site or not. Other search engines have no such tags, at least not right now.
All of this has to do with Google’s nofollow policy and what’s called passing PageRank to links where you get compensated, such as affiliate links. And those are likely to be in your sidebar and perhaps your footer, with banner ads and such. Even if you code these areas to disallow Google to crawl or index, PageRank could still be passed. You have to handle that at the link level by including nofollow in it.
That said, I’m still researching why you would want to use special markup in these areas to tell Google more about the sidebar and footer.
You just get more of the stuff that Google likes when you include microdata markup on your site. When you help Google, Google helps you. The easiest way to do that is to at least have a site-wide setup. Genesis 2.0 makes it easy to get the important markup.
As previously stated, just adding the Genesis 2.0 framework is not enough. You also need a child theme that has been upgraded to take advantage of the new code. The nice folks at Genesis are rolling out new and upgraded child themes, but slowly.
Some of us can’t wait. I’ve got a post later in this series for converting an existing child theme to HTML5 compatibility.
And, I know some of you are itching to use more of the properties you saw listed too. I’ve got posts coming on plugins that will make that easy for you to do.
See the master list of all posts published to date in this series here.
If you’re not already on Genesis, why not? When you’re ready to step up to the best theme framework on the planet, I hope you’ll consider using my affiliate link. But, if you just want to get your feet wet with it first, I’ve got a way for you to do that too.