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Structured Data Schemas
Nov 20, 2018 at 9:51 PM (Edited Nov 20, 2018 at 9:54 PM)

Structured data markup is basically another way of helping search engines understand your site. It describes pages in terms of objects or concepts and how they relate to each other. For a news article for example, it tells what the headline is, the description, the images, and the author details.

A couple years ago, I spent a lot of time marking up the WSN templates with schema.org structured data markup. It made a bit of a mess out of the HTML and was easy to end up with an incomplete version of, but it conveyed the basic info. As soon as that was done, of course, everybody changed their minds and decided that's no good and everybody should use a different markup method. At this point, JSON-LD seems to be the winner. Unlike the old method, JSON-LD lives in the header of the page and isn't mixed into the content semantically.

A few months back I added a Structured Data Schema template to WSN Links in order to enable JSON-LD. Basically what this needed to be was a subtemplate that gets auto-included in the <head> section and uses conditionals to decide what JSON to show. At that time, I added some markup for the contact form page... and left a space for the details page but didn't fill it in.

The listing details page is of course the most useful place for structured data markup. It's also very hard for me to fill out on your behalf when I can't know what exactly you're doing with an installation. Nonetheless, I've come back to that today for a try.

So far, I've set up an article schema for WSN KB article details pages. In the course of doing this, I discovered a few things. First, the schema is really insistint about wanting images -- it won't validate and is considered invalid markup if you don't provide it with both an article image and a publisher website logo. For article images I've added {LINKSTRUCTUREDIMAGELIST} to provide a list of thumbnail URLs if there are any images attached to the article... and an utterly pointless small transparent PNG image if there are no images attached. For the publisher logo I've added {FORCELOGOURL} which gives your site logo if you've uploaded it via the logo uploader page in the admin, or the pointless transparent PNG if you're using a text logo or a template that includes a logo in a way I can't know about. It's incredibly stupid to have to include these useless invisible images, but so it goes, it makes the validator happy.

I'll be slowly going through the other scripts building the most appropriately generic JSON-LD markup for them. You're definitely going to want to customize this, though, so that it truly reflects the exact way you're using the scripts. Only you know what sort of things your details pages are cataloging, so only you can describe that to the search engines via JSON-LD.

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