GROWING IMPORTANCE OF GOOGLE’S DATA HIGHLIGHTER

GROWING IMPORTANCE OF GOOGLE’S DATA HIGHLIGHTER

Knowing the importance of search results to web users, Google accordingly wants Website owners to infuse their websites with as much structured data as is possible and also Knowledge Graph Boxes with rich snippets like event listings, reviews and other relevant information. Apart from this there is Schema MarkUp which is regarded as the best solution for getting rich snippets to show up in the search results. Google knows that all of these matter a lot for they help improve a Website’s search results.

Now comes the question – what happens if the above requirements as asked for by Google are not possible? What if improper Schema MarkUp or no Schema MarkUp is provided for?

Then that becomes a problem. For proper implementation of proper Scheme MarkUp requires dev resources, coding skills and file access, that in most cases not always readily available.

Then in such a situation, what to do?
It’s here that Google’s Data Highlighter comes into play!

GOOGLE DATA HIGHLIGHTER – WHAT IT IS & ALL THAT?

Found in Google Webmaster Tools, Google’s Data Highlighter, introduced just some months back, is described as a browser based point-and-click tool that is a shortcut to rich snippets in Google. It:

  • Makes it extremely easy for website owners to markup their web pages with structured data.
  • Allows authorized Website owners to add rich snippet / structured data markup to their web pages.

Prior to the arrival of Data Highlighter, structured data markup could be added to web pages only by going into the HTML code and then the necessary additions had to be made. With Data Highlighter, that is not required anymore and no longer is it mandatory for you to know HTML to add this markup data.

Below is an image that points out ‘DATA HIGHLIGHTER’:

HOW TO USE DATA HIGHLIGHTER?

  • Go to Google WebMaster Tools.
  • Choose your website
  • Select ‘OPTIMISATION’ link on the left and then select ‘DATA HIGHLIGHTER’ option.
  • Select ‘START HIGHLIGHTING’.
  • Select Item Type.
  • Use your Mouse to highlight the relevant text & notate it.
  • Once done with the same, click ‘PUBLISH’.

Once you do, that means that you have done it. Congratulations!Given below is an Image that shows as to how Data Highlighter Tool works:

Once you have achieved what was required, you need to:

  • Finish ‘TAGGING’ up the content.
  • Hit ‘PUBLISH’ to submit the structure data to Google.

On receiving the structure data, Google will use it to accelerate the search results by adding event data and other rich snippet markup to the search results. This in turn will take you to a higher click-through-rate on your snippets.

Here as you tag OR markup the Content with the Data Highlighter Tool, then the tool will learn from it. After about 5 to 10, tag the pages manually. Following this, Google will then take over after feeling satisfied that they are smart enough to figure out the rest of the pages automatically.

Now suppose your web page will list multiple events in a consistent format, then the Data Highlighter will

  • Learn that format as you apply the tags.
  • Help speed up your work by automatically suggesting additional tags.

On the other hand, if you get many pages of events in a consistent format, then the Data Highlighter will take you through a process of tagging a few example pages, while learning about their format variations.

NOTE: Normally, 5 or 10 manually tagged pages are enough for the machine-learning algorithms to understand the other, similar pages on your Website.

WHAT KIND OF DATA CAN BE HIGHLIGHTED?

Though not as robust as Schema.org, Data Highlighter offers its share of data types to markup. With it, you can highlight and markup Articles, Events, Locations, Book Reviews, Movie Reviews, Products, Software, and a few others.

This facility is especially beneficial for small businesses who would like to highlight their location pages (see below Image)

PROBLEMS OF DATA HIGHLIGHTER

Like everything else in life, Data Highlighter too has its fair share of problems. Simply put, it is not that perfect in the real sense.

    Some of its problems include:

  • If you change any aspect of the web page’s coding, then it will break the Data Highlighter’s project even where the content remains the same. In such a scenario, to get pages to re-cache, you will need to delete the old project completely and start all over again, from scratch.
  • If you have a lot of pages, one of Data Highlighter’s features can only try and guess what chunks of content go with what type of data item. The output here in is not perfect or correct in the real sense.
  • If specific items is not consistently located in the same spot in the page as it is on other pages or somewhere close-by it, the Data Highlighter faces difficulty in finding the items to notate. This is a pretty big problem since Data Highlighter leans heavily on placement of text and images on the page.

Another problem with Data Highlighter is that it also requires patterns in the URL structure to group pages together. For Example: In the above image, it’s looking for URLs that contain the word “BLOG” in the file path.

In such a situation, you can use Regex to refine this a bit. However, it’s much better if you go straight to Schema to markup the data on the pages, since this way, it becomes easy to implement on a template-level.

NOTE: It remains visible only to Google, while other search engines and sites that may crawl your Website for data won’t be able to use the markup at all (This way, you would not be communicating the data categories to them).

FOR WHAT PURPOSE IS GOOGLE’S DATA HIGHLIGHTER USED FOR?

Google’s Data Highlighter currently supports the following data types:

  • Articles
  • Events
  • Local Businesses
  • Movies.
  • Restaurants.
  • Software Applications.
  • TV Episodes.
Articles

NOTE: It remains visible only to Google, while other search engines and sites that may crawl your Website for data won’t be able to use the markup at all (This way, you would not be communicating the data categories to them).

NOTE: It remains visible only to Google, while other search engines and sites that may crawl your Website for data won’t be able to use the markup at all (This way, you would not be communicating the data categories to them).

EVENTS

Data Highlighter will allow you to tag events such as concerts, film showings, festivals, benefits, and any other type of occasion that you would want Google to display in the new fashion. On the other hand, Google will provide for usage guidelines that will guide you and help to ensure that your event data gets displayed accurately.

For instance, below two are examples of valid event name entries:

  • Film Festival of the East Coast
  • Symphonic Orchestra Presents a night with George Takei
  • Entries that would not get picked up by Google Data Highlighter and are considered invalid include the following event name entries:

  • Vacation Packages: Hawaii 7 nights starting $1,500/person.
  • Festival of Music: $25 each.
  • Event tags correspond to the Schema.org Event schema and include several required tags along with several optional tags. While the two required tags are Name (Name) and Date (startDate, endDate), the optional tags are – Location (Place), Image (Image), Official URL (URL), Category (additionalType), and Ticket (offer).

    LOCAL BUSINESSES

    Google Data Highlighter is used to tag data about local businesses like Name, Address, Customer reviews, and Ratings. Each of the tags corresponds to the Schema.org LocalBusiness Schema..

    While the required tags are Name (Name), Address (Address), and Telephone (Telephone), the optional tags are – Opening Hours (openingHours), Category (additionalType), Image (image), URL (URL), Average Rating (aggregateRating), and Review (review).

    MOVIES

    Google’s Data Highlighter tags movies with related data such as Title, Director, Reviews, and Viewer Rating, with each tag corresponding to the Schema.org Movie Schema.

    While the required tag for movies is only Name (name), the optional tags are Image (image), Director (director), Screenplay by (author), Actor (actor), Date Released (datePublished), Genre (genre), MPAA Rating (contentRating), Duration (duration), Official URL (URL), Average Rating (aggregateRating), and Review (review).

    RESTAURANTS

    Google’s Data Highlighter uses data tags such as Name, Address, Reviews and Ratings using the corresponding Schema.org Restaurant Schema for restaurants.

    While the required tags are Name (name), Address (address), and Telephone (telephone), the optional tags are – – Opening Hours (openingHours), Cuisine (servesCuisine), Image (image), URL (URL), Reservation URL (acceptsReservations), Menu URL (menu), Average Rating (aggregateRating), and Review (review).

    SOFTWARE APPLICATIONS

    By using Google’s Data Highlighter for tags such as Name, Publisher, Reviews, and User Rating, you can promote your software applications in new ways on Google search results.

    Likewise by using the Schema.org SoftwareApplication Schema, the only required tab will be Name (name), while optional tags will include Image (image), Category (applicationCategory), Publisher (publisher), Official URL (URL), Download URL (downloadURL), Operating System (operatingSystem), Date Published (datePublished), Software Version (softwareVersion), Average Rating (aggregateRating) and Review (review).

    TV EPISODES

    Using the corresponding Schema.org TVEpisode Schema, this data type includes tags that relate to a television episode, comprising of Title, Director, Reviews, and Viewer Ratings.

    While the required tags are Serial Name (partOfTVSeries), Season Number (partOfSeason), and Episode Number (episodeNumber), the optional data tags include Episode Name (name) , Image (image), Director (director), Actor (actor), Air Date (datePublished), Official URL (URL), Average Rating (aggregateRating), and Review (review).

    HOW TO CREATE PAGE SETS?

    Page Sets allows you to add data tags to specific areas of your individual pages or multiple pages using the Google Data Highlighter. This in turn will allow Google to start crawling your designated pages and including the new highlighted tags and data sets, which eventually will get populated into new search results and displays.

    Google Data Highlighter’s importance can be summed up from the fact that it is extremely beneficial for Website optimization, especially for those organizations that do not have an SEO budget, BUT have limited resources that can at the most help create or add tags here and there.

    Google Data Highlighter is best used in the following cases:

    • When you have got an enormous development queue and want to start seeing rich snippets earlier; OR
    • When you would like to measure the impact of a rich snippet to see if implementing schema markup site wide is worth the effort.
    • When you have limited coding resources and would want to markup a few things, like your product or physical location.
    CONCLUSION

    To sum it up, Data Highlighter is a quick and dirty method for rich snippets. It’s especially ideal where you have a small business or where you have just a few things to notate. ELSE you need to use Schema to markup your code directly for it will make a sound difference in the long run and is much easier to scale.

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