Google’s Data Highlighter for Easy Structured Markup

By Nelson Hudspeth | Mar 12, 2013
More Articles by Nelson


Snippets – the few lines of text that appear under every search result – are designed to give users a sense of what’s on the page and why it’s relevant to their query. These “snippets” of information can become much more detailed and relevant with the use of rich snippets, which can show things such as: reviews, event dates, price ranges, telephone numbers, etc. Rich snippets help users quickly recognize when your site is relevant to their search query, and provide them with useful information at a glance.

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Google’s new Data Highlighter is a webmaster tool for teaching Google about the pattern of event-related data on your website. Prior to the release of this new tool, website owners wanting to add these rich snippets to their website had some sort of knowledge of microformats, microdata or RDFa markups. Most small business owners did not have the time or expertise necessary to implement this complex HTML coding.

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This new Data Highlighter tool offers website owners a point-and-click tool for marking up their sites without having to touch any code. No changes to HTML code are required. You simply use the Data Highlighter to tag data on your site with a mouse. This update will make it incredibly easy for the site owners to mark up their pages with structured data.

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Once you’ve tagged what you’d like marked up, you can hit publish to submit your structured data to Google. Google can then begin to present your data more attractively in search results and in other products such as Google’s Knowledge Graph. When tagging a page with multiple events, Google recommends starting at the top of the page and working your way down. Once you have enough data tagged on the page, the Data Highlighter tool’s complex algorithm will guess and automatically begin tagging the remained of the page, saving you valuable time.

Typically, Google says, “5 or 10 manually tagged pages are enough for our sophisticated machine-learning algorithm to understand the other, similar pages on your site.” Once this algorithm understands the complexity of your site, Google will regularly crawl your site and recognize any future event listings or data similar to what’s been highlighted in the past, making it eligible for these enhanced search results.

Have you had a chance to use Google’s new Data Highlighter tool yet? Below is video from Google on how it all works. For more details, you can check out their help article here.

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