With schema markup becoming a strong factor for improved keyword rankings in 2020, many websites are implementing structured data to get the edge on their competitors in the SERPs. However, one limitation for many website owners is the ability to code, or access dev resources to add structured data on their site.
This is where the Google Data Highlighter Tool comes in. Read our guide to learn what Google Data Highlighter is, how to use it, and what it can do to improve your site’s organic keyword rankings.
Google Data Highlighter is a tool that allows you to automatically markup your website pages with schema, without having to code, or access the backend of your website.
This tool is offered in Google Webmaster Tools and allows you to markup batches of website pages, or single URLs, with different types of structured data.
The Data Highlighter Tool allows you to mark up the following types of data fields on your website:
When marking up your web pages, Google will ask you to highlight specific elements on the page that are required for the schema markup. Using these fields, the Data Highlighter Tool will create schema markup for you, which is then stored by Google and may even generate rich results for your website.
Tying back to the previous section, schema helps Google better understand the content on your site in the following ways:
Schema markup is used to help provide Google better context for your site. With greater context, Google can more accurately understand what your website is all about, which directly correlates with improved keyword rankings in the search results.
Schema markup also generates rich results, or search result page enhancements that often entice more users to click through to websites. You may have seen them before, but rich results include FAQ dropdown sections, review stars, video carousels, and more.
Below are the five steps you’ll need to take when using Google’s Data Highlighter Tool:
First, you’ll want to go to the “Data Highlighter” section in Webmaster Tools and insert your desired URL into the tool. You can either choose to markup a single page, or a batch of pages.
When highlighting a batch of pages, Google will ask you to highlight 5-10 URLs to understand common elements between your site pages. Using this sample, it will then highlight all similar pages for your desired data set, like a blog section of your website.
Next, you’ll select the type of information you would like to highlight from the following options:
After selecting your data type, you’ll then start highlighting the required page elements presented by Google. As an example, if you selected the “Article” datatype, you’ll want to highlight sections on your sample page, such as the Author, Publish Date, Title, Header Image, etc...
This step is only necessary if you selected the “tag this page and others like it” option. After you’ve highlighted your desired elements, you’ll want to go back through and make sure that the page sets don’t have errors, or they aren’t picking up undesired pages from the rest of your site.
After completing steps 1-4, all you have to do is publish your settings and voila! Your desired pages are now marked up with structured data.
Google Data Highlighter is great if you don’t have coding skills or the time investment to mark up individual pages with multiple schema types on your site. While manually adding schema markup is better in the long run, Data Highlighter is a great alternative to get some rich results on Google quickly.
Like I mentioned before, Data Highlighter doesn’t require coding skill to use. It also allows you to markup large swaths of your website in as little as 10 minutes.
Despite there being some pros for using Google Data Highlighter vs schema markup, it’s often better to add your own schema to the header of your site.
Data Highlighter only offers a limited amount of data sets to use, which limits your site’s potential, with hundreds of schema types recognized and available by Google.
Speaking of which, Google Webmaster Tools is deprecated, and Google Data Highlighter may become a tool that is no longer supported by Google. To future proof your website for SEO, it’s better to manually add your own structured data code, rather than rely on Data Highlighter as a quick solution for rich results.
Having said that, having some schema is better than having no schema, and Data Highlighter is a good way to get you started with little skill or time commitment.
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