If you have been paying attention the last few years, you’ve no doubt noticed the increased usage of “rich snippets” while browsing search results. These snippets appear for a variety of searches and use microdata to display things information such as ratings, dates and times, images, and other relevant information to help create a richer search experience for users.
Back in 2011 Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex launched Schema.org to help webmasters understand this microdata vocabulary, but for many it can still be a little confusing. If you’re a heavy WordPress user, you know whenever you need to implement new changes across a number of installations your best bet is look for a plugin to help ease the pain (especially if you’re not a developer).
Luckily, the WordPress community has stepped up to the plate and provided several options for us to manage these markups!
Like most WordPress plugin options, the community has built both free and paid options. Every user will have different structured data, needs so you need to understand exactly what the purpose of rich snippets are and what kinds of data you’ll want to focus on.
What is a Rich Snippet Again?
Before I jump into the plugin options, let’s quickly review exactly what a rich snippet is so you can decided if you actually need to do this for your site. Many webmasters find out having Scheme.org markup can boost their SEO, but if you’re just adding rich snippet data for the sake of SEO and not really providing any value to the SERPS, then you’e really just wasting your time.
Rich snippets appear in search results as additional information that adds additional value to the information, and you see them all the time. A common example of this is seeing rating and pricing data underneath the typical blue link found in the SERPS when searching for products.
In the above screenshot, you’ll see rich snippets in action; you’ll notice the star ratings, a numerical rating, the number of reviews that have been left about the product, and you’ll notice Toysrus.com result even includes pricing and whether or not the Millenium Falcon is in stock.
There are a ton of other examples of rich snippets in search other than rating information, including events (do a search for your favorite sports team to see their next games and scoring information right in the SERPs), drug information, restaurant information (times and contact info), and other local business data formats.
This is probably where many SEOs look to boost their rankings. Information that you can include for local business clients include hours of operation, payments accepted, pricing, contact information, and more (in addition to the aforementioned reviews).
You don’t have to be the world’s great search marketer to see how presenting this data to users in the SERPS clearly makes the search experience that much better—users can get that phone number or see store hours without even having to click-through to the website!
How Does a Rich Snippet Help?
Aside from the obvious benefits of getting more information in front of the user more efficiently, word on the street is Google prefers websites that use Schema.org structured data – but again, only if it makes sense! So it’s safe to say you could see a potential rankings boost by installing the proper markup.
However, utilizing rich snippets REALLY affects your SEO efforts requires more than just adding some extra code to your web page. You see, these rich snippets are way more interactive than a regular blue link – people tend to click on results that have those orange rating stars because they stand out from the rest of the results.
It’s this increase in CTR is how adding the Schema markup can really increase your search rankings.
Now that you understand the value rich snippets bring to the user and how the increase in CTR can have a positive effect on SEO, head on over to the Schema.org website and see if your project fits into the listed categories. Is there information you could be displaying as a rich snippet in the SERPS?
Luckily, if you’re a WordPress user, there are few plugins that will get you setup in no time.
If you’re looking for a simple plugin to get started with structured data, check out the easy to set-up Schema Creator from Raven Tools. The plugin will automatically create microdata for posts, and uses a WordPress shortcode functionality to drop where you need it featured. You can also customize the look of your data with unique CSS classes.
Another free plugin to check out is the All In One Schema.org plugin, which currently has over 65 five-star reviews from the WordPress community. The plugin adds an option to configure a rich snippet right below the visual editor in your WordPress posts or pages. While it currently does not feature a local business markup option at this time, plans are to add new data types in future plugin releases.
The WP Social SEO plugin steps things up a notch by adding some additional features along with a premium option to unlock others as well. The plugin will work with your existing SEO plugins but add options to configure Schema microdata, Google Authorship, Facebook OpenGraph, Twitter Meta tags, and more.
WP Rich Snippets is a very robust premium plugin option if you’re looking to get fancy with your structured data. With this plugin you’ll be able to configure and display things like rating data in many different ways, having a little more control and additional choices then your free plugins offer. You can also pay for additional add-ons to the plugin for even more specific structured data needs, from location data to software specs and even aggregated user reviews.
You can’t write a WordPress SEO article without mentioning everyone’s favorite SEO plugin Yoast! For those who are fans of the their free WordPress SEO plugin, and for those looking to focus on structured data options for local businesses, look into the Yoast Local SEO premium plugin as a way to manage your Schema needs. The plugin also features Google Maps integration to give your visitors an easier way to plan their route.
As with any discussion about WordPress plugins, some of the free options are sure to meet the demands of your website or clients while others might want to step up to the more robust plugins for more control; that’s not to say there aren’t others out there, either. These are just a few of the more popular options you can get started with today to begin testing structured data and seeing how it improves your user experience (and search rankings).
If you have had any experience with these plugins, I would love to hear about them. Any success with one in particular? Are you using a different plugin or option that should be included in our list? Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments section!