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Article Archive by Matt Crowley


January 28 2013

How to Use Google’s Data Highlighter | The Basics

by Matt Crowley

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?

January 15 2013

Introduction to Google’s Data Highlighter Tool

by Matt Crowley

In the past we have covered the value of utilizing rich snippets which present search engine users with more detailed information about what is contained on the page before they click through to it. If you are unfamiliar with what rich snippets are, or the possible benefits from using them, take a look at two of our blog posts that cover the subject:

Now that you are familiar with rich snippets, it’s important to keep up to date with resources and tools that can make you or your web team more efficient. It is in this interest that Google has released the Data Highlighter Tool. This tool allows you to tag the data fields on your website using a mouse and does not require any coding. Currently, only event data is able to be marked up using the Data Highlighter, but Google says that more data types will be supported soon!

Event data that can be marked up includes:

  • Name — The event name.
  • Date — The date, date and time, or date range of the event.
  • Location — The venue name and address of the event.
  • Image — An image describing the event.
  • Official URL — The URL to the official website of the event.
  • Category — The category of the event.
  • Performer — A performer in the event.
  • Ticket offer — A description of the price information and the price of admission.

Additionally, it is important to note that the data highlighter can only be used on pages that have been recently crawled by their spider Googlebot. One easy way to see if the page has been crawled is to check to see if Google has a recent cached version of the page. This can be accomplished by:

  • Copying the specific URL of the page you want to check
  • Typing cache: and then pasting the URL after the colon

For example –     cache:www.example.com/page-1

If Google has a recently crawled and cached version of the page, the page will load with a box near the top that looks similar to the following screen grab:

This tool will be expanded by Google in the near future to support more types of structured data, but if you are more eager to learn about it now, visit the Google’s Data Highlighter page here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2692911&topic=2692946&ctx=topic  

Do you see this as being an easier or more efficient way to mark up the structured data of your website? A more detailed post on how to use Google’s Data Highlighter will follow this one, so check back with our SEO blog to learn more.

January 11 2013

How to Find out who is Linking to Your Website

by Matt Crowley

It is a well known fact by most of those who own or operate a website that having links to your website on other companies or people’s websites is beneficial for a few reasons:

  • They can provide relevant traffic to your website, if for example a news article is written about your company.
  • They can provide great PR; the more visibility that your company can achieve the better.
  • They can benefit you in regard to Search Engine Optimization, as long as they are high quality.

But many people wonder, “How do I find out who is linking to my website?” Google provides a tool to see when your website has been linked to, what websites are linking to yours, and what pages on your website people linking to.

All of this data and more can be found in your Google Webmaster Tools account. If you are unsure if you have an account, check with your webmaster or IT team in order to verify that you have access. If you do not, it is very simple to set up. Have your webmaster or IT professional visit this link to the help article from Google about how to verify your website with Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Now let’s go over how to find out who is linking to your website. Once you have verified your website with Webmaster Tools, visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ to log in to your account dashboard. If you are managing multiple sites, they will all be listed in your home dashboard once you log in.

Next, select the website that you wish to collect your data from and you will see a more detailed dashboard than the previous one. This dashboard is specific to the website that you have just selected.

The next step is to click the option that reads “Traffic” on the top left side navigation of the page. This option will be the third possible choice below “Messages.” A drop down menu will appear that gives you the following 3 options:

  1. Search Queries
  2. Links to Your Site
  3. Internal Links

*Note: They will not be numbered in your webmaster tools account.

Select “Links to Your site” and you will see 4 separate sections of data.

  1. The first is “Total Links” which will be located near the top of the page. This includes the current total number of links that Google has found on other websites that point to yours. Not all links to your site may be listed; however this is the most accurate source available.
  2. The second is “Who Links the Most.” This data includes the list of domains that contain links to your website. It is also sorted in order from domains that contain the most links to your website, to domains that contain the least number of links to your website.
  3. The third is “Your Most Linked Content.” This section displays the specific pages on your website that have the most inbound links pointed toward them.
  4. Finally, the last section is “How Your Data is linked.” This section displays the anchor text found within the inbound links to your website. Put plainly, anchor text is the visible text that a person can see when clicking on a link. For example the proverbial “click here” text.

Lastly, the data for numbers 2, 3, and 4 above can be downloaded to a .CSV or Google Docs file. This is done by clicking the “More »” link beneath any of the sections then selecting “Download this Table” near the top of the page.

You also have the option to:

  • “Download More Sample Links” which will download the data from Google about specific pages on other websites that contain links to your website, and will not sort them in any specific order.

Or

  • “Download Latest Links” which will download the data from Google about what links have been recently found that point to your website along with the date that Google discovered the link.

Now, take this data and make use of it. What pages on your website have been more popular than others? Is everyone only linking to your homepage, and not specific internal pages? Are there websites linking to yours that would make a good partnership?

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