Today I’m going to talk about a tool that is part of Google Search Console and that could save a lot of time to all those people that, like me, are terrified to start messing around with the HTML code: The Data Highlighter.
What is Structured Data?
We can define Structured Data as a mark-up in certain elements of a website that help Search Engines to understand what those elements are. This data is then used to display additional information on the SERPs.
It’s important to understand that having Structured Data in your website doesn’t mean that you are going to appear higher in the result pages, because having Structured Data in your site is not a ranking factor (yet). However, there are some instances where using Structured Data can be useful.
First, it helps Search Engines to understand the information on your site, so they can display new elements in SERPs like reviews, business opening hours or telephone number.
Having more information on the SERPs is helpful to users and could improve click through rate as your site will seem more appealing to them.
If that’s not enough to convince you, Google’s John Mueller said last month that Google may add structured data to its ranking algorithm in the future, so the sooner to tackle this the better.
How can Data Highlighter help us with Structured Data?
While you normally need to add the Structured Data mark-up in the HTML code, Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) includes an option to add this mark-up in a very easy and intuitive way: The Data Highlighter.
To find it, you just have to go to Google Search Console, select your property and go to the Search Appearance section, where you can find the Data Highlighter.
Although very helpful, the Data Highlighter does have two disadvantages:
- Only Google can read it
- It only supports the following types of data:
- Local Businesses
- Software applications
- TV Episodes
How can I use the Data Highlighter?
To use Data Highlighter click on Start Highlighting and then select the URL you want to highlight and the type of information. You can choose to tag just one page or a group of similar pages (very useful when you are highlighting articles).
You will see the page you are going to highlight and all the items you can tag on the right side of the screen.
Then the only thing you have to do is highlight the item you want to mark. For example, if we want to mark the SiteVisibility offices in Brighton for the element “Local Businesses”, we just have to highlight the full address and then click on “Address”.
You can edit, delete and highlight different data any time you want. When you are finished, click “Publish” to approve your changes. If you are not sure, you can always click “Unpublish” and your information will be saved, but won’t be live for Google.
Remember that if you have different data for the same category, like different phone numbers or different blog categories, you should highlight each element separately, like the two categories in the example below.
To see all the elements for each type of data visit the Google Search Console Help Section here:
Tagging a set of pages with Data Highlighter
You don’t have to manually highlight all the pages of your site. If you have a set of pages that look the same (product pages, articles…) you can create a page set. To do this, just click on Start Highlighting and select “Tag this page and others like it”.
You’ll first have to mark the data on the first page you included, but then you’ll have the option of creating a page set.
The tool will then ask you to tag some example pages to help it better understand the tag distribution.
After that, you can review some of the pages created by the tool and, if you approve them, it will apply it to all similar pages. Don’t worry if you get lost as the tool will take you through the entire process. Isn’t that useful?
Wrapping things up…
As you can see, using Data Highlighter is very quick and easy, so I invite you to have a play with it, mark some things up and find new ways to take advantage of it.
Although it is hard to measure the results of adding structured data to your site, you can do it by benchmarking the click through rate or by checking to see how the page results look before and after adding Structured Data.
To learn more about Data Highlighter check out the information Google has published here:
And if you want to know more about schema mark-up, just visit: http://schema.org/
Do you use Data Highlighter or do you prefer to install schema mark-up on the HTML code of your site? Let me know in the comments!