About a week ago, we “migrated” Yoast.com to Genesis 2.0, in the process we switched to their new HTML5 / Schema.org code and we slightly updated our design, making the header shorter and making improvements to our responsive design. This was a bit of work, but not even half as much as that sounds like and that is due entirely to the fact that Genesis 2.0, and especially it’s schema.org functionality, rocks. Let me elaborate.

Why implement Schema.org markup?

Let me start with explaining why you should be bothered with schema.org if you weren’t convinced yet. Not just Google uses schema.org, all 4 major search engines, Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex use it for several different purposes. Yandex recently started doing something that’s way cooler than Google’s rich snippets, you should check that out. But it’s not just them. Recently, Pinterest joined the party by announcing support for Product, Recipe and Movie schema’s through their Rich Pins effort.

So, in my opinion, schema.org markup is a must for everyone serious about their websites optimization.

General service warning: what follows is rather geeky. If you’re not a developer but you do use Genesis or are considering it, feel free to forward this to your developer.

Schema.org enhancements

This site runs a custom Genesis child theme. Most of the CSS and Genesis work for that was done by the awesome Bill Erickson, but I took quite some time after he’d finished to add in all sorts of schema.org goodness to pages. I want my site to be a living example of what is possible from a rich snippets perspective in the SERPs and I use it to experiment with things all the time.

We have a few different post types here on Yoast, which each have their own Schema.org counterpart. Take, for instance, my speaking page. I have a post type for speaking events, and the speaking page is actually the post type archive for that post type. If you test that page with the Structured Data Testing Tool Google provides, you’ll see it’s marked up with cool Event schema’s, which will show up in the search results too:

Speaking Page - Showing event schema markup

There are various ways you could reach this with Genesis, I do it by creating a file, archive-speaking_event.php, where “speaking_event” is the name of the post type. Basically, to get this file to display the post type archive, all it needs to have is the following code:

genesis();

But in our case, we want to do a bit more. We need to mark up each individual post as an Event type and link them to the appropriate URLs for the individual events. Also, there’s all sorts of output that we’ll need to gather, like dates, location names, addresses and countries. Let’s start with the easy bits:

Changing the Schema type of an entries output

First of all, add this file to your child theme by including it from your functions.php. If you simply add it to the same directory it’s as simple as adding this to the end of that file:

require('genesis-schema-helper-functions.php');

That file contains helper functions we’ll need to do all the work. Now remember, this used to take all sorts of extra divs to do well or you were required to rewire the base framework. With Genesis 2.0 though, it’s as simple as adding this before the genesis() call:

add_filter( 'genesis_attr_entry', 'yoast_schema_event', 20 );
add_filter( 'genesis_attr_entry-title', 'yoast_itemprop_name', 20 );
add_filter( 'genesis_attr_entry-content', 'yoast_itemprop_description', 20 );
add_filter( 'genesis_post_title_output', 'yoast_title_link_schema', 20 );
add_filter( 'genesis_attr_content', 'yoast_schema_empty', 20 );

This does the following:

  • turn the schema type of each individual entry on the page into an event;
  • replace the normal “headline” itemprop for the entry title with “name”, as required by this specific schema;
  • change the itemprop of the entry content to “description”, instead of “text”, which is the default for a blog post;
  • make sure the link in the headline has the itemprop=”url” needed;
  • remove the overall schema.org type of the page as that would confuse the search engine.

The basic work is now done, of course we need all the meta data, and we’ll need to retrieve that in the conventional way. The code I used for that can be found in the gist I created for this file.

This bit of work replaced hundreds of lines of ugly code with easily readable and easily applicable code which as a bonus actually has less of a need for extra divs etc in the output. I absolutely love it. If you want to see more examples of pages on this site with cool Schema markup, check these:

  • my Genesis review, which itself has beautiful review markup, as you can see here.
  • my plugin pages, for instance my WordPress SEO plugin page, which has product + review markup, see here.
  • this, or any other post, which has the default Genesis 2.0 blogposting markup.

Genesis 2.0 is still in beta, and I’ve been discussing several possible changes with Nathan Rice, Genesis’ Lead Developer, that would make some of this work even easier. This is where the future lies though: more and better markup for pages with a theme that allows you to easily add the metadata you need. I’m considering adding some Genesis specific functionality to WordPress SEO to make all this even easier, I’d love to know your thoughts and what you’d like to do with all this.

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