Announcing Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper Tool

Just when we marketers and online businesses alike think that Google just hates us and has forgotten all about our hard-working existence, they go and release something like they did yesterday – the Structured Data Markup Helper Tool.

You’ve probably seen search results that look a little something like this:

Complete with a yummy-looking image of some ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies and a 5-star recipe rating, along with the first several ingredients needed to make these little delights. Or you might have seen something like this:

How convenient – a list of events happening in the city of Philadelphia this weekend, all from the same website, appearing naturally in my Google search results.

These kind of search results are considered rich snippets, meaning these websites are returning query results that contain additional information rather than just the title and meta description of the page that ranks for the query. The results with all of this additional information tend to stand out from the rest of the “normal” organic search results, meaning they can help a website increase click through rates and keyword rankings in the long run.

So, how do you get all of this additional information that appears on your website to actually start appearing in organic search results? Well, thanks to Google’s new tool, it’s actually pretty easy. These kind of search results are accomplished using Schema.org structured data markup – which is basically just a fancy term for feeding the search engines (namely Google) additional information about any given page that you want them to see.

For example, if you are working with a product page, you have the ability to tell Google additional information about the product using structured data markup, and the new Google tool helps automate all of that markup for you, so even if you’re not familiar with HTML5 or Schema.org, you can still begin sending this additional information to Google.

Say you want to tell the search engines how many of the particular product you have in stock, or what the brand name is, or what the price is or even what customers are saying about your product. It’s all possible, and now, it’s all pretty simple to automate.

So here’s how Google’s new Structured Data Markup Helper Tool actually works:

This is where you start. Choose what type of page you’re working on marking up, and enter the page’s URL. For example purposes, I’m going to use a wonderful seafood restaurant I visited recently with my family while visiting Houston, Texas, the Goode Company.

Once I’ve entered the URL for the webpage I’m looking to markup (in this case, I’ll be using the page on this company’s site that focuses specifically on their seafood branches), I can start assigning “tags” by highlighting information that’s actually found on the page itself. In this example below, I’m telling the Google tool what I want the name of the page to be in my structured data markup:

On the right side, I can see the tags that I’ve assigned to the page so far just by highlighting the information that I want to enter. Here’s what the right sidebar should look like once I’ve entered all of the information that applies. If there is any information missing at the end, you can either enter it manually, or skip over it, but know that skipped information will result in a less thorough rich snippet in the search results. In this case, I’ll be skipping over the “Review” information, as there are no customer reviews listed on the page itself:

You can see the information that I’ve highlighted on the page, and if you notice, the right sidebar is, for the most part, filled. When you’ve finished entering your page’s information, click the red “Create HTML” button. You’ll then see something like this:

The tool shows you an example of the HTML for the page in its entirety with the addition of the automatically generated structured data markup. If you scroll down through all of the HTML, you’ll see that the additional markup that’s been added is highlighted in yellow. You’ll find this markup in two sections – the first is before the closing </head> tag. All you have to do is replace the HTML that’s already there on your page with the HTML that this tool generates for you:

If you continue to scroll down, you’ll see more highlighted HTML that is embedded within the page content itself:

Again, you can copy and paste all of this HTML into the page content to fully markup the page that you are working with. Remember that anything in the content field that you mark up will be visible to viewers, while the markup that goes in the <head> of the page is just that – markup, not content.

Then just make sure your page is included in your website’s sitemap that is sent to Google, and keep an eye on your search results. With the video rich snippets that we’ve seen here at Mountain Media, we have found that results can take anywhere between 1 and about 6 weeks to begin to show in organic search results.

So with the help of the new Google tool and some patience, you, too, can have rich snippet results for your website that can help increase your click through rates and keyword rankings, resulting in more overall search engine traffic to your website!

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