Category Archives: structured data

Enabling more high quality content for users

In Google’s mission to organize the world’s information, we want to guide Google users to the highest quality content, the principle exemplified in our quality rater guidelines. Professional publishers provide the lion’s share of quality content that benefits users and we want to encourage their success.

The ecosystem is sustained via two main sources of revenue: ads and subscriptions, with the latter requiring a delicate balance to be effective in Search. Typically subscription content is hidden behind paywalls, so that users who don’t have a subscription don’t have access. Our evaluations have shown that users who are not familiar with the high quality content behind a paywall often turn to other sites offering free content. It is difficult to justify a subscription if one doesn’t already know how valuable the content is, and in fact, our experiments have shown that a portion of users shy away from subscription sites. Therefore, it is essential that sites provide some amount of free sampling of their content so that users can learn how valuable their content is.

The First Click Free (FCF) policy for both Google web search and News was designed to address this issue. It offers promotion and discovery opportunities for publishers with subscription content, while giving Google users an opportunity to discover that content. Over the past year, we have worked with publishers to investigate the effects of FCF on user satisfaction and on the sustainability of the publishing ecosystem. We found that while FCF is a reasonable sampling model, publishers are in a better position to determine what specific sampling strategy works best for them. Therefore, we are removing FCF as a requirement for Search, and we encourage publishers to experiment with different free sampling schemes, as long as they stay within the updated webmaster guidelines. We call this Flexible Sampling.

One of the original motivations for FCF is to address the issues surrounding cloaking, where the content served to Googlebot is different from the content served to users. Spammers often seek to game search engines by showing interesting content to the search engine, say healthy food recipes, but then showing users an offer for diet pills. This “bait and switch” scheme creates a bad user experience since users do not get the content they expected. Sites with paywalls are strongly encouraged to apply the new structured data to their pages, because without it, the paywall may be interpreted as a form of cloaking, and the pages would then be removed from search results.

Based on our investigations, we have created detailed best practices for implementing flexible sampling. There are two types of sampling we advise: metering, which provides users with a quota of free articles to consume, after which paywalls will start appearing; and lead-in, which offers a portion of an article’s content without it being shown in full.

For metering, we think that monthly (rather than daily) metering provides more flexibility and a safer environment for testing. The user impact of changing from one integer value to the next is less significant at, say, 10 monthly samples than at 3 daily samples. All publishers and their audiences are different, so there is no single value for optimal free sampling across publishers. However, we recommend that publishers start by providing 10 free clicks per month to Google search users in order to preserve a good user experience for new potential subscribers. Publishers should then experiment to optimize the tradeoff between discovery and conversion that works best for their businesses.

Lead-in is generally implemented as truncated content, such as the first few sentences or 50-100 words of the article. Lead-in allows users a taste of how valuable the content may be. Compared to a page with completely blocked content, lead-in clearly provides more utility and added value to users.

We are excited by this change as it allows the growth of the premium content ecosystem, which ultimately benefits users. We look forward to the prospect of serving users more high quality content!

Posted by Cody Kwok, Principal Engineer

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Connect to job seekers with Google Search

At Google I/O this year, we announced Google for Jobs, a new company-wide initiative focused on helping both job seekers and employers, through collaboration with the job matching industry. One major part of this effort is launching an improved experience for job seekers on Google Search. We’re happy to announce this new experience is now open for all developers and site owners.

For queries with clear intent like [head of catering jobs in nyc] or [entry level jobs in DC], we’ll show a job listings preview, and each job can expand to display comprehensive details about the listing:

For employers or site owners with job content, this feature brings many benefits:

  • Prominent place in Search results: your postings are eligible to be displayed in the in the new job search feature on Google, featuring your logo, reviews, ratings, and job details.
  • More, motivated applicants: job seekers can filter by various criteria like location or job title, meaning you’re more likely to get applicants who are looking exactly for that job.
  • Increased chances of discovery and conversion: job seekers will have a new avenue to interact with your postings and click through to your site.

Get your job listings on Google

Implementation involves two steps:

  1. Mark up your job listings with Job Posting structured data.
  2. Submit a sitemap (or an RSS or Atom feed) with a <lastmod> date for each listing.

If you have more than 100,000 job postings or more than 10,000 changes per day, you can express interest to use the High Change Rate feature.

If you already publish your job openings on another site like LinkedIn, Monster, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, and Facebook, they are eligible to appear in the feature as well.

Job search is an enriched search experience. We’ve created a dedicated guide to help you understand how Google ranking works for enriched search and practices for improving your presence

Keep track of how you’re doing and fix issues

There’s a suite of tools to help you with the implementation:

In the coming weeks, we’ll add new job listings filters in the Search Analytics report in Search Console, so you can track clicks and impressions for your listings.

As always, if you have questions, ask in the forums or find us on Twitter!

Posted by Nick Zakrasek, Product Manager

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Similar items: Rich products feature on Google Image Search

Image Search recently launched “Similar items” on mobile web and the Android Search app. The “Similar items” feature is designed to help users find products they love in photos that inspire them on Google Image Search. Using machine vision technology, the Similar items feature identifies products in lifestyle images and displays matching products to the user. Similar items supports handbags, sunglasses, and shoes and will cover other apparel and home & garden categories in the next few months.

The Similar items feature enables users to browse and shop inspirational fashion photography and find product info about items they’re interested in. Try it out by opening results from queries like [designer handbags].

Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature request from our users. The Similar items carousel gets millions of impressions and clicks daily from all over the world.

To make your products eligible for Similar items, make sure to add and maintain schema.org product metadata on your pages. The schema.org/Product markup helps Google find product offerings on the web and give users an at-a-glance summary of product info.

To ensure that your products are eligible to appear in Similar items:

  • Ensure that the product offerings on your pages have schema.org product markup, including an image reference. Products with name, image, price & currency, and availability meta-data on their host page are eligible for Similar items
  • Test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that the product markup is formatted correctly
  • See your images on image search by issuing the query “site:yourdomain.com.” For results with valid product markup, you may see product information appear once you tap on the images from your site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl your website.

Right now, Similar items is available on mobile browsers and the Android Google Search App globally, and we plan to expand to more platforms in 2017.

If you have questions, find us in the dedicated Structured data section of our forum, on Twitter, or on Google+. To prevent your images from showing in Similar items, webmasters can opt-out of Google Image Search.

We’re excited to help users find your products on the web by showcasing buyable items. Thanks for partnering with us to make the web more shoppable!

Posted by Julia E, Product Manager on Image Search

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Rich Cards expands to more verticals

At Google I/O in May, we launched Rich Cards for Movies and Recipes, creating a new way for site owners to present previews of their content on the Search results page. Today, we’re expanding to two new verticals for US-based sites: Local restaurants and Online courses.

Evolution of search results for queries like [best New Orleans restaurants] and [leadership courses]: with rich cards, results are presented in new UIs, like carousels that are easy to browse by scrolling left and right, or a vertical three-pack that displays more individual courses

By building Rich Cards, you have a new opportunity to attract more engaged users to your page. Users can swipe through restaurant recommendations from sites like TripAdvisor, Thrillist, Time Out, Eater, and 10Best. In addition to food, users can browse through courses from sites like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, EdX, Harvard, Udacity, FutureLearn, Edureka, Open University, Udemy, Canvas Network, and NPTEL.

If you have a site that contains local restaurant information or offers online courses, check out our developer docs to start building Rich Cards in the Local restaurant and Online courses verticals.

While AMP HTML is not required for Local restaurant pages and Online Courses rich cards, AMP provides Google Search users with a consistently fast experience, so we recommend that you create AMP pages to further engage users. Users consuming AMP’d content will be able to swipe near instantly from restaurant to restaurant or from recipe to recipe within your site.

Users who tap on your Rich Card will be taken near instantly to your AMP page, and be able to swipe between pages within your site.

Check out our developer site for implementation details.

To make it easier for you to create Rich Cards, we made some changes in our tools:

  • The Structured Data Testing Tool displays markup errors and a preview card for Local restaurant content as it might appear on Search.
  • The Rich Cards report in Search Console shows which cards across verticals contain errors, and which ones could be enhanced with more markup.
  • The AMP Test helps validate AMP pages as well as mark up on the page.

What’s next?

We are actively experimenting with new verticals globally to provide more opportunities for you to display richer previews of your content.

If you have questions, find us in the dedicated Structured data section of our forum, on Twitter or on Google+.

Post by Stacie Chan, Global Product Partnerships

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Showcase your site’s reviews in Search

Today, we’re introducing Reviews from the web to local Knowledge Panels, to accompany our recently launched best-of lists and critic reviews features. Whether your site publishes editorial critic reviews, best-of places lists, or aggregates user ratings, this content can be featured in local Knowledge Panels when users are looking for places to go.

Reviews from the web
Available globally on mobile and desktop, Reviews from the web brings aggregated user ratings of up to three review sites to Knowledge Panels for local places across many verticals including shops, restaurants, parks and more.

By implementing review snippet markup and meeting our criteria, your site’s user-generated composite ratings will be eligible for inclusion. Add the Local Business markup to help Google match reviews to the right review subject and help grow your site’s coverage. For more information on the guidelines for the Reviews from the web, critic review and top places lists features, check out our developer site.

Critic reviews
In the U.S. on mobile and desktop, qualifying publishers can participate in the critic review feature in local Knowledge Panels. Critic reviews possess an editorial tone of voice and have an opinionated position on the local business, coming from an editor or on-the-ground expert. For more information on how to participate, see the details in our critic reviews page.

The local information across Google Search helps millions of people, every day, discover and share great places. If you have any questions, please visit our webmaster forums.

Posted by Ronnie Falcon, Product Manager

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Promote your local businesses reviews with schema.org markup

Since the launch of critic reviews last year, we have been focused on supporting more types of reviews, like restaurant reviews, cafes, or any other type of a local business. Recently we’ve announced the availability of critic reviews for local businesses. By incorporating structured data to their sites, publishers can promote their content on local Knowledge Graph cards and users can enjoy a range of reviews and opinions.

Critic reviews are available across mobile, tablet and desktop, allowing publishers to increase the visibility of their reviews and expose their reviews to new audiences, whenever a local Knowledge Graph card is surfaced. English reviews for businesses in the US are already supported and we’ll very soon support many other languages and countries.

Publishers with critic reviews for local entities can get up and running by selecting snippets of reviews from their sites and annotating them and the associated business with schema.org markup. This process, detailed in our critic reviews markup instructions, allows publishers to communicate to Google which snippet they prefer, what URL is associated with the review and other metadata about the local business that allows us to ensure that we’re showing the right review for the right entity.

Google can understand a variety of markup formats, including the JSON-LD data format, which makes it easier than ever to incorporate structured data about reviews into webpages! Publishers can get started here. And as always, if you have any questions, please visit our webmaster forums.

Posted by Jaeho Kang, Software Engineer

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Musical artists: your official tour dates in the Knowledge Graph

Webmaster level: all

tour dates online

When music lovers search for their favorite band on Google, we often show them a Knowledge Graph panel with lots of information about the band, including the band’s upcoming concert schedule. It’s important to fans and artists alike that this schedule be accurate and complete. That’s why we’re trying a new approach to concert listings. In our new approach, all concert information for an artist comes directly from that artist’s official website when they add structured data markup.

If you’re the webmaster for a musical artist’s official website, you have several choices for how to participate:

  1. You can implement schema.org markup on your site. That’s easier than ever, since we’re supporting the new JSON-LD format (alongside RDFa and microdata) for this feature.
  2. Even easier, you can install an events widget that has structured data markup built in, such as Bandsintown, BandPage, ReverbNation, Songkick, or GigPress.
  3. You can label the site’s events with your mouse using Google’s point-and-click webmaster tool: Data Highlighter.

All these options are explained in detail in our Help Center. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in our Webmaster Help forums. So don’t you worry `bout a schema.org/Thing … just mark up your site’s events and let the good schema.org/Times roll!

Posted by Justin Boyan, Product Manager, Google Search

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Structured Data dashboard: new markup error reports for easier debugging

Since we launched the Structured Data dashboard last year, it has quickly become one of the most popular features in Webmaster Tools. We’ve been working to expand it and make it even easier to debug issues so that you can see how Google understands the marked-up content on your site.

Starting today, you can see items with errors in the Structured Data dashboard. This new feature is a result of a collaboration with webmasters, whom we invited in June to>register as early testers of markup error reporting in Webmaster Tools. We’ve incorporated their feedback to improve the functionality of the Structured Data dashboard.

An “item” here represents one top-level structured data element (nested items are not counted) tagged in the HTML code. They are grouped by data type and ordered by number of errors:

We’ve added a separate scale for the errors on the right side of the graph in the dashboard, so you can compare items and errors over time. This can be useful to spot connections between changes you may have made on your site and markup errors that are appearing (or disappearing!).

Our data pipelines have also been updated for more comprehensive reporting, so you may initially see fewer data points in the chronological graph.

How to debug markup implementation errors

  1. To investigate an issue with a specific content type, click on it and we’ll show you the markup errors we’ve found for that type. You can see all of them at once, or filter by error type using the tabs at the top:
  2. Check to see if the markup meets the implementation guidelines for each content type. In our example case (events markup), some of the items are missing a startDate or name property. We also surface missing properties for nested content types (e.g. a review item inside a product item) — in this case, this is the lowprice property.
  3. Click on URLs in the table to see details about what markup we’ve detected when we crawled the page last and what’s missing. You’ll can also use the “Test live data” button to test your markup in the Structured Data Testing Tool. Often when checking a bunch of URLs, you’re likely to spot a common issue that you can solve with a single change (e.g. by adjusting a setting or template in your content management system).
  4. Fix the issues and test the new implementation in the Structured Data Testing Tool. After the pages are recrawled and reprocessed, the changes will be reflected in the Structured Data dashboard.

We hope this new feature helps you manage the structured data markup on your site better. We will continue to add more error types in the coming months. Meanwhile, we look forward to your comments and questions here or in the dedicated Structured Data section of the Webmaster Help forum.

Posted by Mariya Moeva, Webmaster Trends Analyst

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rel=”author” frequently asked (advanced) questions

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Using authorship helps searchers discover great information by highlighting content from authors who they might find interesting. If you’re an author, signing up for authorship will help users recognize content that you’ve written. Additionally, searchers can click the byline to see more articles you’ve authored or to follow you on Google+. It’s that simple! Well, except for several advanced questions that we’d like to help answer…


Authorship featured in search results from one of my favorite authors, John Mueller


Clicking the author’s byline in search results can reveal more articles and a Google+ profile

Recent authorship questions

1. What kind of pages can be used with authorship?

Good question! You can increase the likelihood that we show authorship for your site by only using authorship markup on pages that meet these criteria:
  • The URL/page contains a single article (or subsequent versions of the article) or single piece of content, by the same author. This means that the page isn’t a list of articles or an updating feed. If the author frequently switches on the page, then the annotation is no longer helpful to searchers and is less likely to be featured.
  • The URL/page consists primarily of content written by the author.
  • Showing a clear byline on the page, stating the author wrote the article and using the same name as used on their Google+ profile.

2. Can I use a company mascot as an author and have authorship annotation in search results? For my pest control business, I’d like to write as the “Pied Piper.”

You’re free to write articles in the manner you prefer — your users may really like the Pied Piper idea. However, for authorship annotation in search results, Google prefers to feature a human who wrote the content. By doing so, authorship annotation better indicates that a search result is the perspective of a person, and this helps add credibility for searchers.

Again, because currently we want to feature people, link authorship markup to an individual’s profile rather than linking to a company’s Google+ Page.

3. If I use authorship on articles available in different languages, such as
example.com/en/article1.html for English and
example.com/fr/article1.html for the French translation,
should I link to two separate author/Google+ profiles written in each language?

In your scenario, both articles:
example.com/en/article1.html
and
example.com/fr/article1.html
should link to the same Google+ profile in the author’s language of choice.

4. Is it possible to add two authors for one article?

In the current search user interface, we only support one author per article, blog post, etc. We’re still experimenting to find the optimal outcome for searchers when more than one author is specified.

5. How can I prevent Google from showing authorship?

The fastest way to prevent authorship annotation is to make the author’s Google+ profile not discoverable in search results. Otherwise, if you still want to keep your profile in search results, then you can remove any profile or contributor links to the website, or remove the markup so that it no longer connects with your profile.

6. What’s the difference between rel=author vs rel=publisher?

rel=publisher helps a business create a shared identity by linking the business’ website (often from the homepage) to the business’ Google+ Page. rel=author helps individuals (authors!) associate their individual articles from a URL or website to their Google+ profile. While rel=author and rel=publisher are both link relationships, they’re actually completely independent of one another.

7. Can I use authorship on my site’s property listings or product pages since one of my employees has customized the description?

Authorship annotation is useful to searchers because it signals that a page conveys a real person’s perspective or analysis on a topic. Since property listings and product pages are less perspective/analysis oriented, we discourage using authorship in these cases. However, an article about products that provides helpful commentary, such as, “Camera X vs. Camera Y: Faceoff in the Arizona Desert” could have authorship.

If you have additional questions, don’t forget to check out (and even post your question if you don’t see it covered :) in the Webmaster Forum.

Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead

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Getting started with structured data

Webmaster level: All

If Google understands your website’s content in a structured way, we can present that content more accurately and more attractively to Google users. For example, our algorithms can enhance your search results with “rich snippets” when we understand that your page is a structured product listing, event, recipe, review, or similar. We can also feature your data in Knowledge Graph panels or in Google Now cards, helping to spread the word about your content.

Today we’re excited to announce two features that make it simpler than ever before to participate in structured data features. The first is an expansion of Data Highlighter to seven new types of structured data. The second is a brand new tool, the Structured Data Markup Helper.

Support for Products, Businesses, Reviews and more in Data Highlighter

Data Highlighter launched in December 2012 as a point-and-click tool for teaching Google the pattern of structured data about events on your website — without even having to edit your site’s HTML. Now, you can also use Data Highlighter to teach us about many other kinds of structured data on your site: products, local businesses, articles, software applications, movies, restaurants, and TV episodes. Update: You can see the full list of schemas supported in Data Highlighter here.

To get started, visit Webmaster Tools, select your site, click the “Optimization” link in the left sidebar, and click “Data Highlighter”. You’ll be prompted to enter the URL of a typically structured page on your site (for example, a product or event’s detail page) and “tag” its key fields with your mouse.

Google Structured Data Highlighter

The tagging process takes about 5 minutes for a single page, or about 15 minutes for a pattern of consistently formatted pages. At the end of the process, you’ll have the chance to verify Google’s understanding of your structured data and, if it’s correct, “publish” it to Google. Then, as your site is recrawled over time, your site will become eligible for enhanced displays of information like prices, reviews, and ratings right in the Google search results.

New Structured Data Markup Helper tool

While Data Highlighter is a great way to quickly teach Google about your site’s structured data without having to edit your HTML, it’s ultimately preferable to embed structured data markup directly into your web pages, so your structured content is available to everyone. To assist web authors with that task, we’re happy to announce a new tool: the Structured Data Markup Helper.

Like in Data Highlighter, you start by submitting a web page (URL or HTML source) and using your mouse to “tag” the key properties of the relevant data type. When you’re done, the Structured Data Markup Helper generates sample HTML code with microdata markup included. This code can be downloaded and used as a guide as you implement structured data on your website.

Structured Data Markup Helper

The Structured Data Markup Helper supports a subset of data types, including all the types supported by Data Highlighter as well as several types used for embedding structured data in Gmail. Consult schema.org for complete schema documentation.

We hope these two tools make it easier for all websites to participate in Google’s growing suite of structured data features! As always, please post in our forums if you have any questions or feedback.

Posted by Justin Boyan, Product Manager

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