What’s New in WPSSO Core v15

The common way to create Schema markup for WooCommerce product variations in the past has been to create multiple Schema offers for a product – one offer per variation. Unfortunately, the Google merchant crawler has always been very unreliable when reading offers, sometimes being able to read product offers, and sometimes not. Even now, after Google added merchant validation to their Rich Results Test tool, it does not guarantee that the Google merchant crawler will be able to read Schema markup as predicted by Google’s test tool.

Some structured data plugins have attempted to work around the limitations of Google merchant’s crawler by offering different Schema markup when URL query arguments for variation attributes are present. WooCommerce creates a single webpage for a product (like a WordPress does for a single Post or Page), and javascript is used to adjust the information displayed based on URL query arguments for variation attributes – but there still is only one HTML webpage for a product. Some structured data plugins break this single product webpage by adjusting the Schema markup to include only the variation offer when URL query arguments for variation attributes are present, but this has some serious drawbacks as the WooCommerce product webpage can no longer be cached, the canonical URL value is now invalid (ie. points to the main product page, which has different markup), and search engines traditionally ignore query arguments, which means they are seeing different markup for the same URLs. Breaking the WooCommerce product webpage might help fix Google merchant’s limitations, but it does so at the expense of search engine ranking.

So, how do we preserve the single webpage for a WooCommerce product with variations?

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Better Schema Markup for WooCommerce

WPSSO + WooCommerce logos.

WooCommerce is a popular e-commerce plugin, with a solid and well designed code base, but WooCommerce is not an SEO plugin – its Schema markup for search engines is minimal and it does not provide any social meta tags for Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. This guide provides a quick and easy solution to fix your WooCommerce product Schema markup and meta tags.

Warnings for WooCommerce Markup

The Google Rich Results Test Tool, Schema Markup Validator, or the Google Search Console may report one or more of the following errors for the Schema markup provided by the WooCommerce plugin:

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SEO Plugin Performance Report for Q2 2022

In June 2021, and then again in September 2021, we compared the performance of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. To continue what has become a bit of a tradition, we present the latest SEO performance report for April 2022.

We’ve classified the performance of each SEO plugin into one of three categories (best, average, and worst) and included a baseline chart for WordPress and the 2021 theme. This gives us a good baseline reference for the performance of each SEO plugin – as you will see, the best performing SEO plugins have almost no effect, while the slowest SEO plugin almost doubles the page load time and the number of database queries.

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New WPSSO Google Merchant Feed Add-on

Just released, the new WPSSO Google Merchant Feed add-on retrieves product information from WPSSO Core Premium and provides maintenance free XML feeds for each WordPress language (aka locale).

There are no add-on settings to configure — the WPSSO Google Merchant Feed add-on automatically retrieves all product information in the language (aka locale) requested.

A supported e-commerce plugin, like WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads, is suggested but not required — the WPSSO Google Merchant Feed add-on can also retrieve custom product information entered in the WordPress editor Document SSO metabox. WooCommerce variations and additional WooCommerce product attributes are fully supported.

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SEO Plugin Performance Report for Q4 2021

In June of 2021 an SEO plugin for WordPress boasted they were “one of the fastest SEO plugins” available, so using the Query Monitor plugin, we tested the performance of several SEO plugins to see if their claim was true (spoiler alert, it wasn’t).

In the months since that article, there has been a new version of WordPress and new versions of several SEO plugins, so we were curious to see if the SEO plugin performance results had changed for Q4 2021. The WPSSO Core plugin, for example, has integrated their Schema JSON-LD add-on into their Core plugin, so the features of WPSSO Core have increased significantly – would it also affect its performance?

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WPSSO Core Integrates the Schema JSON-LD Add-on

Years ago, when support for Schema meta tags was added to the WPSSO Core plugin, an add-on was created to express more complex Schema markup using JSON-LD encoding. At the time, most WordPress themes still offered Schema markup using RDFa and Microdata in their templates, and in those cases, adding JSON-LD markup automatically in the webpage would only create duplicate and confusing markup. Google was also one of the few (if not the only) search engine capable of reading JSON-LD markup, and still promoted the use of meta tags, RDFa, and Microdata (read by most social sites and other search engines at the time).

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How Fast Are WordPress SEO Plugins in 2021?

An SEO plugin recently boasted in their change log that they are now “one of the fastest SEO plugins“, which made us wonder – did they really measure their plugin performance before stating this, or is it just wishful thinking on their part? :-)

To see where this SEO plugin’s performance stood in contrast to others, we imported the WP Test data and installed the Query Monitor plugin on a WordPress test site, then proceeded to check the performance of the most popular SEO plugins. The only plugins active were the SEO plugin being tested and the Query Monitor plugin. The “Tiled Gallery” post from the WP Test data was used for testing since it contains both text and images (a featured image was selected and a post excerpt was also entered). After reloading the webpage a few times to prime the PHP opcode cache, the following performance results were noted. Green denotes plugins with the best performance, yellow with average performance, and red with poor performance (relative to each other).

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Is WPSSO the Best Alternative to Yoast SEO for 2021?

The Yoast SEO plugin is currently active on over 5 million sites, which means that its features are also limited by the most common and basic needs of those 5 million site owners — content creators and SEO experts often require more control and fine-tuning than Yoast SEO can deliver.

Before considering any Yoast SEO alternative or enhancement plugins, we should clarify what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is, how a plugin like Yoast SEO helps, and how an alternative plugin like WPSSO Core and its add-ons differ from Yoast SEO.

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