How to Use Google’s Data Highlighter | The Basics

January
28
2013

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Last week, we brought you an introduction to Google’s Data Highlighter Tool. This week, we will be covering some basic steps on how to use it. First, we’ll go over a quick recap on what needs to be done. Before using the data highlighter, you must have:

  • Google’s Webmaster Tools verified for your domain.
  • Structured event data, such as an event with a date and time.
  • Checked to ensure the pages have recently been crawled by Googlebot.

The next step is to ensure that the pages you will use the tool on are pages that consistently display structured event data. These pages must also use URLs that follow a simple and consistent pattern. This is called a page set. Currently, the data highlighter can only be used on pages that are in a page set. It allows Google to make sense of the structured data on your site by following this common pattern. Google gives the following URLs as an example page set:

  • www.example.com/events/music/pop/pop-music.html
  • www.example.com/events/music/classical/classical-music

These two URLs are a great example of a page set, because they provide a simple structure and easy to follow pattern. It is clear that they both contain information on music events along with specific genre of music.

After these requirements have been met, it’s time to use the data highlighter. In order to use the tool:

1.   Log in to your webmaster tools account.
2.   Click the “Optimization” menu on the left side navigation.
3.   Select “Data Highlighter.”

Now you will see a video about the tool as well as some more information about tagging pages. You will also notice a blue button that reads “Start Highlighting.” The final steps are:

4.   Click the button that reads “Start Highlighting.”
5.   A box will pop up allowing you to tag either:

  • a. Tag this page and others like it
  • b. Tag just this page

If you will be marking up one page, select “Tag just this page.” If you will be marking up a page set, select “Tag this page and others like it.”

6.   Enter the URL of the first page in the page set, or the single page’s URL.
7.   Select “OK.”

Now the page of the URL that you input will appear on the screen.

8.   Highlight one type of structured data at a time (name, date, location, etc.) using your mouse, just as if you were highlighting something in Microsoft Word.
9.   Right click the highlighted information and select the type of data that is highlighted (name, date, location, etc.).
10.   Highlight all of the pertinent data on the page and watch it appear in the right hand column.
11. Once done, click the red “Next” button on the top right of the screen.
12.   View your final information and if correct, click the red “Publish” button on the top right of the screen.

This is all it takes to show Google the structured data that is contained on pages of your website. According to Google, it takes between 5 and 10 manually tagged pages with the data highlighter for their algorithms to understand the patterns on your website. It also may take some time for these results to appear in Google’s search engine results pages. If you have used the tool properly, and considerable time has passed with no results, your website may be facing other SEO issues that need to be addressed first. Will the data highlighter make structured data markup easier for you?

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