You may have noticed that Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) has been including notifications of Structured Data warnings for hentry data types such as missing: author, missing: update, and missing: entry-title, particularly for websites using WordPress. After a couple of months of ignoring these errors, we finally sat down and tried to figure out this issue.
What is hentry Missing Exactly?
What is causing this error is that hentry, a microformat, is being declared in some WordPress themes, but is missing author, entry-title, and updated markup, particularly on the pages, categories, and tags, but not posts. Pages do not typically need an author to be shown nor a last updated date. This is because pages typically do not have date sensitivity and are not author-centric.
WordPress theme designers and developers are adding the hentry declarations to post templates, but not completing the required markup on templates that are not for posts. The hentry declaration is left dangling without proper mark-up on pages and other content types where there is no date sensitivity. If you read the schema for hentry, you’ll see that author, entry-title, and updated are required properties.
How Important is hentry?
It’s important enough for Google to give you a warning about it, but it’s not mission critical. If you think that fixing these are going to launch your to the top of SERPs, you’re deluding yourself.
Structured data includes Schema.org, microformats, and RDFa, which are all formats that help “search engines, web crawlers, and browsers extract and process specific information from a web page to provide richer content and experience for users” (Wikipedia). Schema.org has become one of the more popular formats and is “sponsored by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex”. However, hentry has been adopted by WordPress but designers and developers, based on ignorance of the format and how to implement it properly, have ignored it entirely.
So, when implemented properly, structured data can help users and the web better understand your content.
The hentry Missing Data Solution
I found a solution on a WordPress Support Forum topic that worked almost instantly. But rather than shoving this thing into all our client’s functions.php files, I thought I’d take some time and learn how to add this to a plugin and just enable it. Thus, I cannot take any credit besides adding it to a plugin.
So that is what I’ve done, and I’ve chosen to make it readily available to everyone who is having this issue with a simple plugin called Hentry Corrector. This is a simple set it and forget it plugin without any settings.
When you enable this plugin, you shouldn’t see any changes on the front-end of your website. This plugin adds HTML with style classes such as updated and author no non-blog content-types. Again, since this is primarily for static pages, authors and dates are unnecessary, so that information is hidden from the user using inline CSS, but can be verified by Google using the Structured Data Live Test Data tool. It also adds the correct entry-title class to headings. This code is also added to categories and tags.
|Plugin: hentry Corrector|
Size: 1.60 KB
Installation: Upload the zip file using the Add New Plugin feature in WordPress, or extract contents and upload entire folder to the /plugins/ directory of your WordPress installation.
|Download hentry Corrector WordPress Plugin|
Not all WordPress sites will need this plugin. I’ve only found this issue on certain WordPress themes, notably WooThemes, Elegant Themes, and some Genesis Themes. But the only way to determine if you absolutely need this theme is to see if errors appear in Webmaster Tools.
Also, this plugin is really not the best implementation. It really should be up to the designers and developers to implement these properties at the template level. WordPress itself should lead the way in this change.
Lastly, although this plugin should fix most of your missing hentry issues, Google’s Search Console might take months before it shows that pages have been corrected. However, you can always test your structured data using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. The tool will show you all the structured data on the page and whether or not it’s valid. If it’s “All Good”, you can put your feet up and pat yourself on your back.
Steve Scott is the CEO & Director of Training at the Tampa SEO Training Academy. He has taught SEO skills to people from around the world and currently offers his hands-on search engine optimization training workshops in Tampa to individuals and businesses of all sizes. Corporate SEO training classes and consulting are also available.