Taking the time to read this Setup Guide and review the plugin Essential Settings page will help your click-through rates and rankings in Google search results.
If you use the WooCommerce plugin, don't miss the Documentation and Resources section bellow for additional WooCommerce integration notes.
Business Social Accounts (Optional)
If you haven't already done so, create a Facebook Page and Twitter account for your business / website. You can enter all your business / website social account information in the SSO > Social Pages settings page. The social account URLs are used by WPSSO Core for Open Graph and Schema meta tag values, along with Schema Organization markup in JSON-LD format (which may appear in Google Search results to highlight your business / website social pages).
Author Social Accounts (Optional)
Ask your content authors to enter their Facebook and Twitter contact information in their WordPress user profile page. Each author's contact information can appear in various meta tags and Schema JSON-LD markup for Facebook, Twitter, and Google, but only if they complete their user profile.
Review Essential Settings
Review the website description on the SSO > Essential Settings page and select a default image ID or URL. The default image is used for index / archive pages, and as a fallback for posts and pages that do not have a suitable custom image, featured image, attached image, or an image available in their content.
Do not forget to submit a few example posts / pages to the validation tools mentioned below. Some markup formats, like Pinterest Rich Pins, must be requested / enabled when submitting an example post / page to their validation tool.
Keep an Eye on Notifications
WPSSO Core and its complementary add-ons attempt to keep notifications to a minimum, issuing only informational, warning, or error notifications when required. Messages from the default WordPress notication system can feel intrusive and over-used, and are not compatible with the new block editor in WordPress v5, so WPSSO Core includes its own (more discreet) notification system in the top toolbar.
Look for the SSO notification icon in the top toolbar - by default, it will be grey with a 0 count. If there are notifications, the count will increase, and the SSO icon be shown on a red, yellow, or blue background. WPSSO notifications are context sensitive - they relate to the content shown in the current webpage.
Schema Markup vs Google Rich Results
Schema (aka "Schema.org") is a collaborative, community lead standard for structured data markup. Schema markup is classified by type, and each type is associated with a set of properties. The types are arranged in a hierarchy and the current Schema vocabulary consists of 841 types, 1369 properties, and 352 enumeration values. The Schema vocabulary can be used with many different encodings, including meta tags, RDFa, Microdata, and JSON-LD. WPSSO Core adds Schema markup to webpages using meta tags for Pinterest and other social crawlers. The WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on is required to provide additional markup using JSON-LD encoding for Google and other search engines.
Google Rich Results are a set of requirements for a small selection of Schema types, which includes specific images dimensions, a limited set of values for some Schema properties, limited Schema types for some property relations, and more. Google Rich Results require several layers of related markup (aka a multi-dimensional arrays) that must be expressed using JSON-LD in the webpage head section (preferred by Google), or with RDFa / Microdata markup in theme templates (deprecated standards).
If your theme templates do not provide RDFa / Microdata markup for Google Rich Results, you should enable the WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on. If your theme templates include incomplete or incorrect RDFa / Microdata markup (a common problem), you should enable both the WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on and the WPSSO Strip Schema Microdata add-on to also remove the incomplete or incorrect Microdata markup.
Not sure if your theme templates already provide markup for Google rich results? Submit a post or page URL from your website to the Google Rich Results Test Tool or the Google Structured Data Test Tool, and compare the results before / after enabling the WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on. Between checks, don't forget to clear the cache of any caching plugin or service you may be using, along with clearing the WPSSO cache in the SSO > Tools and Actions settings page. ;-)
Social and Search Image Sizes
Cropped or Uncropped?
The difference between a cropped and uncropped image size is important to understand. When resizing and cropping an image, it will be resized so that both sides meet or exceed the image dimensions requested, and the excess width or height will be trimmed. The resulting image will match the required dimensions exactly (having sacrificed parts of the image). When resizing without cropping, the original aspect ratio is preserved and no parts of the image are sacrificed. The image will be resized so that both the width and height will fit within the requested width and height - meaning that only one side of the image will match the requested dimensions.
Most social and search sites automatically crop images to fit within a specific size container - for example, Facebook shows link share images within a 600x315px container. By offering pre-cropped images of the correct dimension, site owners can control how images are cropped, instead of letting social and search sites crop images automatically (and sometimes incorrectly).
Upscale (Enlarge) Images?
WordPress does not upscale (enlarge) images. WordPress can only create smaller images from larger full size originals. Upscaled images do not look as sharp or clear, and if upscaled too much, will look fuzzy and unappealing - not something you want to promote on social and search sites. WPSSO Core Premium includes an optional module to allow upscaling of WordPress Media Library images (up to a maximum upscale percentage). For example, a full size image of 100x200px could be upscaled up to 150x300px using a maximum upscaling value of 50%, but trying to resize any larger than this would fail. If you feel strongly that upscaling small images is something you require (instead of uploading larger full size originals), you can enable the SSO > Advanced Settings > Integration > Upscale Media Library Images option.
Submit a few sample posts, pages, etc. to the Facebook Sharing Debugger to verify your Open Graph meta tags. A link to the Facebook debugger is available under the Validate tab in the Document SSO metabox (on post, term, and user editing pages). Submitting a URL to the Facebook debugger can also be used to clear Facebook's cache (after clicking the "Fetch new scrape information" button). If you're validating older posts / pages, pre-dating the activation of WPSSO Core, note that Facebook may continue to use the old meta tag values from its cache, even after fetching the new scrape information.
Submit an example post or page to the Pinterest Rich Pins Validator. Note that the Pinterest validator recognizes only known Rich Pin types (article, recipe, product, etc.) - your home page and WordPress archive pages are generally not valid Rich Pin types. If you haven't already requested Rich Pin approval from Pinterest for your website, you can submit a request when validating your first example post or page.
If you have activated the WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on, you can also submit URLs to the Google Rich Results Test Tool or the Google Structured Data Test Tool. WPSSO Core includes all the meta tags that social sites need, along with Schema markup for Google's Knowledge Graph in the site home page, but to create Schema markup for your post / page content, you must activate the WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on. Some Schema types may also require additional organization and/or location information from the WPSSO Organization Markup add-on and/or WPSSO Place and Local SEO Markup add-on.
Submit a few index / archive webpages and post / page URLs to the W3C Markup Validator to verify the HTML of your theme templates. Social and search engine crawlers expect properly formatted HTML that conforms to current HTML / XHTML standards. If your webpages contain serious HTML markup errors, social and search crawlers may be unable to read your meta tags and Schema markup. You should report any template HTML markup errors to your theme author.
- Facebook Sharing Debugger
- Facebook Microdata Debug Tool
- Google Rich Results Test
- Google Structured Data Test Tool — although deprecated, this tool provides additional validation for Schema types beyond the limited selection of Google Rich Result types.
- LinkedIn Post Inspector
- Pinterest Rich Pins Validator
- Twitter Card Validator
- W3C Markup Validator — recommended to check your theme templates for HTML markup issues.
- Google PageSpeed Insights — recommended for general site and webpage health checks (results influence SEO ranking).
- Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide — essential reading to understand Google SEO ranking factors.
- Webpage Performance Test with Waterfall — recommended to check and diagnose basic performance issues.
- SSL Server Test by SSL Labs — recommended test for any site using https.
Interface and General Usage
On most WordPress admin pages you'll find a "Screen Options" drop-down tab on the upper right-hand side of the page. You can use these screen options to include / exclude specific metaboxes and columns from the current page. For example, when viewing the posts or pages list you can use the "Screen Options" drop-down to hide / view the "Schema" and "SSO Image" columns. You can also enable / disable these columns globally under the SSO > Advanced Settings > Editing and Metadata > Table Columns tab.
When editing a post, page, category, tag, user profile, etc., you'll find a Document SSO metabox below the content area where you can customize default texts, images, and videos. The Document SSO metabox shows a different set of options based on the content type selected (ie. Schema type or Open Graph type), allowing you to customize the details of articles, events, e-Commerce products, recipes, reviews, and more. The "Preview" tab shows how this webpage might look when shared on Facebook, the "Head Markup" tab shows a complete list of meta tags and Schema markup created by the WPSSO Core plugin and its add-ons, and the "Validate" tab allows you to submit the current webpage URL to several test and validation tools (mentioned above).
Documentation and Resources
WPSSO Core is a powerful application and social framework, that can read content, image, and video information from a variety of sources, including data from 3rd party plugins and services. It's worth noting the most common questions and issues bellow, along with their solutions:
Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I fix Google Structured Data > hatom errors?
- How does WPSSO Core find / detect / select images?
- How does WPSSO Core find / detect / select videos?
- Why are some HTML elements missing / misaligned / different?
- Why does Facebook show the wrong image or text?
- Why shouldn't I upload small images to the Media library?
More Frequently Asked Questions...
Comments and suggestions to improve the plugin are always welcome — please open a ticket if you have any ideas or comments you would like to share with us.
BuddyPress was not originally created as a WordPress plugin, and consequently BuddyPress is not well integrated with WordPress features and functions. There are specific BuddyPress Integration Notes available to help you with some known BuddyPress integration issues.
The WooCommerce Integration Notes are very useful if you would like to include additional product information in your meta tags and Schema markup, like the product brand, color, condition, material, size, etc.
The WooCommerce plugin is known to offer incomplete Schema markup for Google. The WPSSO Core Premium plugin and its WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on provide a much better solution by offering complete product meta tags for Facebook / Pinterest, and complete Schema product markup for Google Rich Results — including additional product images, product variations, product information (brand, color, condition, EAN, dimensions, GTIN-8/12/13/14, ISBN, material, MPN, size, SKU, weight, etc), product reviews, product ratings, sale start / end dates, sale prices, pre-tax prices, VAT prices, and much, much more.
Developers and WebSite Designers
WordPress developers and website designers may consider a few additional settings:
If your theme uses custom fields (ie. post metadata) to manage additional image URLs, video URLs, embedded video HTML, e-commerce product details, etc., you can enter their custom field names under the SSO > Advanced Settings > Editing and Metadata > Custom Fields tab.
WPSSO Core adds a
meta name descriptionand
meta name robotsHTML tag to the webpage by default, unless an SEO plugin is detected (in that case they are disabled automatically). You can enable or disable individual SEO HTML tags under the SSO > Advanced Settings > HTML Tags > SEO / Other tab.
WPSSO Core creates Schema WebSite, Organization, and Person social markup for Google's Knowledge Graph in the front page using JSON-LD. If your theme does not include Schema markup (using JSON-LD or Microdata formats) for your post / page content, you should consider enabling the WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on to provide complete Schema markup for your content (ie. Schema Article, Place, Product, etc.).