Have you ever seen those Google search listings with the fancy stars or pictures?
You know, the ones that really grab your attention when you’re scrolling through the search results?
They can look like this:
Or sometimes they look like this:
The websites with those juicy eye-magnets aren’t exploiting some loophole in Google. They’re using a very transparent method called schema markup to generate rich snippets (AKA the fanciness!).
If you want to make your content stand out in the same way, I’m going to teach you exactly how to get those same details added to the search results listings for your WordPress site.Here's how to add rich snippets to your WordPress websiteClick To Tweet
What are schema and rich snippets?
Schema and rich snippets are closely tied, but slightly different, things. Essentially, schema markup, or structured data markup as Google calls it, is behind-the-scenes code that makes it easier for search engines to understand the context and structure of your content. This markup style is maintained at schema.org, which is sponsored by Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex.
For example, schema markup can tell search engines that that number is a 5-star review rating and that other number is the price of an item in USD.
As smart as search engines have become, they still benefit from being able to rely on these contextual clues when parsing your content.
So, after Google or another search crawls your site that’s marked up with schema, search engines can use that data to create the rich snippets that humans actually see in the search results.
These rich snippets will depend on your exact content. For reviews, they’ll include star ratings, for eCommerce products they’ll include prices and availability, and so on.
If you want an easy way to remember the difference, think of it like this:
- Schema markup is for search robots
- Rich snippets are for humans
But to get to the humans, you have to talk to the robots first!
Benefits of schema and rich snippets
Ok, just from your own experiences, you probably realize how attention-grabbing rich snippets are. But, singular experiences don’t always tell the full story. So what does the data say?
Search Engine Land put together a great list of case studies looking at the effect of implementing schema/structured data markup. You can dig into the individual studies, but generally, people have noticed up to a 30% increase in organic CTR after implementing schema markup.
It’s not just about CTR, either. The rich snippets generated from your schema markup can also:
- Help searchers understand your content better by adding breadcrumbs
- Give your content a chance to show up in Google’s Knowledge Graph (those big automated summaries at the top of some search results!)
- Add a site search box below your listing
- Ensure your business listing details are correct, which is especially important for local SEO
All that aside, schema markup is just plain smart. It makes it easier for search engines to parse your content, which should always be something you’re striving towards. And with Google and all the other major search engines pushing for its adoption, you can be sure it’s not going away anytime soon.
Now that you know the what and the why, let’s get into the how. I’ll take you through how to add schema and rich snippets to your website. First, I’ll show you how using a premium plugin called WPRichSnippets. Then, I’ll show a free plugin option from the same developer.
Note: If you’re unsure which plugin you should use, don’t worry. I’ve included a brief comparison towards the end of this post.
How to add schema markup to WordPress with WPRichSnippets
WPRichSnippets is a popular premium plugin for adding schema markup and rich snippets to WordPress. While the plugin has tons of built-in features that make it especially perfect for review sites, it covers all types of schema markup and rich snippets.
Because it’s a premium plugin, you’ll need to purchase it directly from WPRichSnippets before getting started. You should get a .zip file of the plugin after downloading, which you can upload to your WordPress site to install the plugin.
Configuring WPRichSnippets for general sites (non-Review)
Once you activate the plugin, you’ll get a brand new Rich Snippets tab in your WordPress dashboard. This tab lets you configure general settings for the plugin, but you’ll actually add your schema markup from the WordPress editor when creating or editing content.
Before you start adding schema markup, though, you need to configure some things. Get started by going to Rich Snippets → Settings:
Many of the settings deal specifically with reviews. If you’re not planning to write reviews, you can effectively ignore the Rating, Display, and Criteria tabs. With that being said, there are some universal settings you’ll definitely want to configure.
On the General tab, the first thing you need to do is enable WPRichSnippets for any post types you want to add schema markup to by scrolling to the Custom Post Types option.
If you haven’t created any custom post types, you’ll only see post and page. If you want to be able to add schema markup for both regular posts and pages, you should check both boxes:
If you are using custom post types, you should also make sure to enable WPRichSnippets for those.
Below that box, you should also add some basic, universal details for your site:
That’s pretty much all you have to do if you’re not using the review part of the plugin. You can configure some technical aspects in the Technical tab, but you don’t need to do anything in that tab if you don’t want to.
How to configure WPRichSnippets for reviews
If you are planning to use WPRichSnippets for reviews, you’ll love how well thought out its features are. You can create beautiful review summaries complete with criteria, user ratings, and calls to action. Of course, all this content has proper schema markup.
You have full control over the criteria you display and can choose whether or not to allow user reviews.
Premium extensions also add the ability to create detailed product comparisons, ranking tables, and more.
To configure the review functionality, you should start by filling out the rest of the information in the General tab.
Then, you should go through the Rating, Display, and Criteria tabs and fill them out. Here’s generally what you can set in each tab:
- Rating: Enable user ratings and reviews and configure how they function.
- Display: Set some layout options for the review box as well as color styling.
- Criteria: If you’re going to evaluate products on multiple criteria rather than one rating, here is where you can add those criteria. For example, you could rate a product on “Price”, “Ease of Use”, “Support”, etc.
Adding schema markup to content
Phew, you’re all configured. Now, you can start actually adding schema markup. If you go to the WordPress editor for any of the post types you enabled WPRichSnippets for (remember those checkboxes?), you’ll see a brand new box for WPRichSnippets under the text area:
This box is where you control all of your schema markup. The first thing you want to do is click the Select dropdown to choose which type of schema you’re going to add:
You should always select the option that most closely fits your content because WPRichSnippets will customize your markup options based on the Schema Type you select.
Once you select the relevant type, you can fill out all the boxes following the plugin’s helpful tool tips.
I know, that wasn’t very specific. So how about a real life example?
Let’s say you’re writing a normal blog post. Nothing special like a review or a cooking recipe. Just text and some pictures!
To add schema markup, you would just select the Article type. That would give you these options:
All you need to do is fill them all out according to WPRichSnippet’s instructions. If you’re ever unsure what to put in a box, just hover your mouse over the question mark icon for a tip.
You can also access additional schema options in the vertical column on the left:
You can browse through and add any that seem relevant. But for a general blog post, there really isn’t anything you need to do in those boxes. Those boxes are mainly reserved for reviews or, in the case of Address and Hours, local SEO.
And there you have it! A quick guide to using WPRichSnippets to add schema markup to your WordPress site. Keep reading to learn how to do something similar with a free plugin called Schema.
How to add schema markup with the free Schema plugin
Launched in July 2016, Schema is a relative newcomer to the plugin scene. But it’s growing in popularity because it offers an easy, lightweight way to fully deck out your site in valid schema markup.
You may also notice some interface similarities with WPRichSnippets – that’s because both plugins are authored by the same developer.
Because it’s a free plugin listed at wordpress.org, you can install it directly from your WordPress dashboard. Once you activate the plugin, you’ll have a new Schema tab in your dashboard:
Unlike WPRichSnippets, you’ll want to fill out everything no matter what. But, the settings are pretty simple.
In the General tab, you just need to select your About and Contact pages from the dropdowns and add your logo. You can leave the Featured image box unchecked unless you want the plugin to automatically set your featured image.
In the Content tab, you can enable or disable specific markup. Because Google recommends enabling most of these markup options, I recommend enabling them, too!
In the Knowledge Graph tab, you should fill out details about your site/company for the Knowledge Graph. Just be aware – it’s easy to miss that there are actually two tabs to this page. You should fill them both out:
Finally, in the Search Results tab, you can do two things.
First, you can ask Google to include a Sitelinks search box in your listing. Here’s an example of what that box looks like:
If your site is especially large, it’s a helpful way to let users search your site.
In the Site Name tab of the Search Results settings, you can have Google display your site name in the search results instead of your URL. Here’s an example of what that looks like:
Adding schema markup to your content with Schema plugin
Unlike WPRichSnippets, Schema has you set up general content types that the plugin automatically uses to mark up your content. You don’t add schema data for individual pieces of content.
You can configure these defaults by going to Schema → Types. By default, the plugin will automatically create Types for posts and pages.
If you want to edit the default schema for your normal posts, you can click on the Edit button:
Then, you can configure the default schema markup by using the dropdowns marked in red:
If you want to override the defaults, you can check the box marked in blue. Just note that this is an advanced feature. Unless you definitely know what you’re doing, you should leave it alone. By default, the Schema plugin generates schema data from core WordPress functions. This setting lets you override those defaults with your own custom settings.
If you’re using any custom post types, you’ll want to create a Schema Type for them and associate it with the custom post type by checking the box:
From now on, the plugin will automatically add schema markup to your posts according to the settings you’ve selected!
Important – Always validate your markup!
Here’s something to really pay attention to:
You should never just enable one of these plugins and automatically assume everything is perfect. You need to make sure your content is marked up right.
Thankfully, that’s super easy because Google created a tool to do exactly that.
It’s called the Structured Data Testing Tool. All you need to do is enter your URL and hit RUN TEST to check if there are any issues with your schema markup:
Which schema markup plugin is better?
If you want the most beginner-friendly interface, I think WPRichSnippets wins there. The free schema plugin gives you a lot of flexibility – but you need some background knowledge to use the post meta creator. With WPRichSnippets, you just fill in pre-existing boxes with tooltip hints – no knowledge needed.
If you’re planning to review any kind of product, you should definitely go with WPRichSnippets. It has a fully functioning review system to let you create beautiful review summaries. And if you purchase some of the extensions, you can add even more cool features.
But, that’s a double-edged sword. If you’re not planning to offer reviews, you’re paying for a lot of powerful features that you won’t be using.
Finally, if you want free, you should go with the Schema plugin. It comes from the same author, so it has the same knowledge put into it. And as long as you’re ok with a bit of a learning curve, you can adapt it to a lot of different situations with its custom post/schema types.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we might receive a commission if you make a purchase. Our opinions are our own and we only recommend plugins that we believe will genuinely help you.