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.
In September 2020, Google announced support for shipping details in Schema Product Offers and how shipping details would be presented in search results. Adding the new shippingDetails property to your Schema Product markup is especially important if you offer free or low-cost shipping, as this will make your products more appealing in search results.
In October, Surnia Ulula announced support for shipping details in the WPSSO Core Premium plugin, to provide both the Google recommended Schema OfferShippingDetails shippingDestination and shippingRate properties for WooCommerce products. Although these two properties are enough to satisfy Google’s recommended shipping details markup, the Google validator now warns that an additional deliveryTime property is recommended.
The deliveryTime property should be a Schema ShippingDeliveryTime type that includes businessDays, cutoffTime, handlingTime, and transitTime properties. The data for these four properties can be managed with a new WPSSO Shipping Delivery Time for WooCommerce add-on.
There are several ways to create additional product information in WooCommerce – the most common is by creating Product Attributes, either as an Attribute taxonomy term or individually for each product, and then using those Product Attributes for variations. This is great for selectable variation attributes like Color, Size, etc., but does not work well for unique / singular information like GTIN, UPC, EAN, ISBN, and MPN (Manufacturer Part Number). What is required instead is a different way to manage this unique / singular information on the product editing page, which is then shown on the WooCommerce purchase page under the “Additional information” tab.
WooCommerce manages information on product Availability (aka Stock), Prices, SKU, etc., but additional WooCommerce product attributes must be created to provide more product information for Google.
The WPSSO Core Pro plugin (and its WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup Pro add-on), for example, include a variety of WooCommerce product attribute values in its Schema markup, including the product Brand, Color, Condition, EAN, GTIN-8, GTIN-12, GTIN-13, GTIN-14, ISBN, Material, MPN (aka Manufacturer Part Number), Size, and Gender.
It’s been a very productive two weeks of coding for both the WPSSO Core plugin, and it’s WPSSO Schema JSON-LD Markup add-on.
On April 26th – just two weeks ago – WPSSO Core v4.0.0 was released, which included support for the new Gutenberg editor. Since then, WPSSO Core v4.1.0, v4.2.0, and v4.3.0 were also released (the last one just today), along with WPSSO JSON v1.25.0 and v1.26.0.
In case you missed all the update notices and posts about those versions, the following is a quick summary of the big changes and improvements in both WPSSO Core and its JSON-LD add-on. And at the end of this post, you can also find a summary of our release schedule philosophy, and why we chose to release four big improvements, in four different versions, in just two weeks. ;-)
The release of WordPress 5 and the new Gutenberg editor are just around the corner, and Gutenberg developers still have not tackled a serious design issue with the current Gutenberg notification system — notices in Gutenberg are being displayed over the content area, forcing users to dismiss notifications to gain access to their content — and in some cases, where several non-dismissible notices are displayed, users may not have access to the content area at all.
The notification system in the current version of WordPress is nothing fancy — and can feel a bit intrusive when several notices are displayed at once — but it’s a lot more flexible and functional than the proposed Gutenberg notification system. :-) As an example, here are some typical SSO (Social and Search Optimization) notifications when editing a test post in the current version of WordPress, in the Gutenberg editor, and with the upcoming release of WPSSO Core v4.2.0 that moves SSO notices into the admin toolbar.
The new Gutenberg editor for WordPress v5 may not be ready yet — and I can certainly attest to that, lol — but it’s coming soon, and WPSSO Core is ready for Gutenberg!
This latest version of WPSSO Core (scheduled for release this week) includes several key changes aimed specifically at integrating WPSSO Core with the new Gutenberg editor. The Document SSO (Social and Search Optimization) metabox is now refreshed when the Gutenberg post is saved, and any SSO notices are displayed using the new Gutenberg notification system. The notices themselves have also been improved by including more information about the dismiss button — either simply hiding the notice (Gutenberg default), temporarily dismissing it for 1 hour, 3 months, etc, or dismissing it permanently.
Have you tried the Gutenberg editor yet?
WordPress v5 is coming soon, and if you haven’t tried the new Gutenberg editor in a staging environment (contact your hosting provider for details), then you could be in for a major surprise! Many plugins will not be compatible with Gutenberg, and for those few and rare plugin authors that are still actively maintaining their plugins, updates to support the Gutenberg editor may take some time. Save yourself the headache – install the Gutenberg editor in a staging environment now, and make sure all your plugins are compatible. ;-)
WPSSO Core v4.0.0 beta is available now.
If you’re a WPSSO Core Pro user — and have a staging environment — you can select the “Beta and Up” version filter for WPSSO Core in the SSO > Update Manager settings page, to install and test the latest beta version. You can also re-select the “Stable / Production” version filter at any time to re-install the last stable / production version.
A new add-on for WPSSO Core called WPSSO Tune WP Image Editors is the fastest and easiest way to improve your social and SEO images — simply activate and regenerate your thumbnail images (aka resized images), and you’re done! :-)
How does it work?
Have you noticed that after carefully adjusting an image in Photoshop, you upload it to your site and WordPress creates small images that seems a bit “fuzzy” — nothing like the nice sharp original?
The reason is that after resizing any image, that image must be sharpened – always, but WordPress doesn’t do any sharpening, so the resized image remains a bit “fuzzy” — probably not what you want for a featured image or share on social sites! ;-)
The WPSSO Tune WP Image Editors add-on takes care of this — it automatically applies a reasonable amount of sharpening to all JPEG images resized using the default WordPress ImageMagick editor.