Adding rel="me" to WordPress Social Menus

Update: As Kaspars points out in the comments below, it is indeed possible to set the rel value on menu links directly from within WordPress. I just had the option hidden for some reason. So definitely implement a Social menu location in any themes you’re working on, and just ignore my code snippet below.

Tonight I came across Konstantin Kovshenin’s post, WordPress Social Menus1, where he describes a technique he noticed in one of Justin Tadlock’s themes. I must say that looking at it now it seems so obvious, and I’m sort of embarrassed that it never occurred to me before.

It’s common for blogs to link to the individual’s various social media profiles, and there are dozens of themes and plugins that each have their own way of handling this. What Justin does, and what Konstantin is now trying to promote, is to setup a special “social” menu location within WordPress that users can assign a menu to (or fallback to using the standard Custom Menu widget if the theme doesn’t have the social menu location). Using a few conventions and CSS techniques, it becomes very easy for a theme to provide custom icons or styling of the social menu without having a dozen incompatible ways to store the data. It’s actually quite brilliant, and I really hope this becomes more commonly supported in WordPress themes.


The one thing that I haven’t seen mentioned so far, however, is adding rel=“me” values to the profile links. Together with links from those profiles back to your site, this allows others verify that these really are your profiles, and is the foundation for things like IndieAuth.

Adding rel=“me” tags to your social menus is actually quite simple using WordPress’s wp_nav_menu_objects filter. Just add the following code snippet to your theme, or better yet in a simple must-use plugin so it will stick around even when you change themes.

/** Add rel="me" to social menu items. */
function social_menu_objects($items, $args) {
    if ( 'social' == $args->menu->name ) {
      foreach ( $items as $i ) {
          $i->xfn .= ' me';
    return $items;
add_filter('wp_nav_menu_objects', 'social_menu_objects', 10, 2);

(As Konstantin points out in the comments below, you’d want to change the above code to check against $args->theme_location if your theme is defining a dedicated social menu location.)

I’m now using this technique to power my social media links in the footer of this site, so you can see it live there.

  1. What’s particularly interesting to me is exactly how I came across Konstantin’s post – via a Google Now website update card. I have these cards pop up in Google Now all the time, but never have I had one quite as relevant to my interests as this. ↩︎

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