Periodically, I hear about a plugin that just makes me say, “Yes!” Today is one of those days. Raven Internet Marketing Tools, the company behind some incredibly popular SEO and internet marking tools, has released a free WordPress plugin that makes creating schema data dead simple.
Raven worked with well known WordPress developer Andrew Norcross to create the plugin, aptly named Schema Creator. Though the announcement for Schema Creator is not yet live, the plugin is available in the WordPress plugin repository for your consumption. I’ve given it a spin myself, and considering I already knew Andrew Norcross was a great developer (seriously, follow him on Twitter or something), I’m not surprised that it works exactly as advertised.
How to use the Schema Creator plugin
After you install the plugin, you set some basic settings under the “Settings > Schema Creator” tab. There’s an option to include some base CSS, but you probably don’t need that. You can also choose to automatically add some general schema data to your body and content html elements. Neat.
The process to generate schema data is very simple. In the post or page editor, a button is added next to the media upload/insert button, which upon click will launch a thickbox with a form to walk you through the generation process.
Current available schema types are person, product, event, organization, movie, book, and review. This is clearly only a fraction of currently supported types, but it’s probably the most common ones, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more added over time. The output of each schema is in the form of a shortcode. Each detail of the schema is displayed as an attribute of the shortcode, so it’s pretty simple to edit if necessary. What this also means is that you can generate a schema with the generator in the post editor, and then put it anywhere on your site, like a widget area.
I personally find manually generating my schema data to be a pain. I’m always having to consult the official schema documentation and double checking that I haven’t made any markup errors, because I inevitably do it manually in the editor or a widget area late in the game of developing a website. So this plugin is quite handy for me. I’m sure I’m not alone.
Never heard of schema?
Well, good thing you’re reading this post. Schema data is a set of structured HTML tags that provide a consistent format for search engines to see what type of data is being displayed, so that they can accurately represent that data in search results. When search engines know what content is supposed to represent what on a webpage, it allows them to utilize that in interesting ways, such as Google’s rich snippets.
Perhaps you’ve also heard of microformats, microdata, or RDFa. Well, Schema is like that, except that it’s actually a joint effort from all the major search engines, and therefore, it’s the future. You can go learn more about Schema from Google.
I’m happy to see a valuable tool like this built just for WordPress. It goes to show just how big and important this platform we love has become. I’m even happier that Raven sees the value in contributing open source, free tools to complement their premium services. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go install Schema Creator in my base WordPress install, because it will be on all my client sites going forward.