Saturday, June 8, 2013

Be Friendly to Google

Have you ever wondered why or how the search results from sites like CNET or Google Play/iTunes look so different from search results for your own website? That happens because Google 'understands' these sites better than yours. This is not to say that your site doesn't meet the 'quality criteria', so to speak. Rather, it merely means that Google can identify and understand the structure of such sites, and can provide a precise yet comprehensive and accurate overview for them. You can do that too by structuring the data/content on your website, so that search engines know exactly what your site is about. Based on your structured data, Google can show appropriate information on Google Now or Knowledge Graph. Imagine a review website where users write product reviews. You wouldn't them all to be treated the same way in search results now, would you? Structured Data will help Google provide searchers with accurate and interactive information they can easily relate to. This will not only help your website's CTR by a large degree, it will also build up your 'SEO-optimization points', meaning that search engines will be more hospitable for your website.

To help you participate in structured data features, Google has just recently released two news tools, the Data Highlighter, and the Structured Data Markup Helper tool.

Data Highlighter

The Data Highlighter basically helps identify what sort of content you have on your site, and teaches Google the pattern of structured data about events on your website. Using the Data Highlighter, you won't have to modify the HTML of your existing page. Start by logging into Google Webmaster Tools, and then from the left sidebar, go to Optimization >> Data Highlighter. Then click on the button on the right that says Start Highlighting.

The Data Highlighter basically helps identify what sort of content you have on your site, You can now tell Google whether your site is among the following types listed.
  • Articles
  • Events
  • Local Bussiness
  • Movies
  • Products
  • Restaurants
  • Software Applications
  • TV Programs
Then be asked to enter a URL, and then choose its type from among the eight ( 8 ) listed above. You can also choose to tag just that page, or other pages with the same consistent formatting too. The latter would be a good option for a blog, for example.

After this, you will see an overview of that page, and you will have to tag each part of the page with your mouse. You can, for example, specify the author, the publishing date, and the average rating for an article. Tagging options vary depending upon what option you chose (i.e. Article, Product etc).

The process will take a few minutes, at the end of which the content will be 'highlighted' automatically. 

Structured Data Markup Helper

As an alternative to the Data Highlighter where you let Google do the work for you, you can use the Structured Data Markup Helper tool to edit your HTML, and optimize your site using the markup generated by Google (for advanced users). 

It works in much the same way as Data Highlighter. You first have to tag various page elements with your mouse. Then, this tool will generate sample HTML code for you with microdata markup included. You can use this code as a reference for implementing structured data directly into your site's source code. Using these tools, you can really stand out from the competition. You can tell Google exactly what your website is about, and we think these tools are a huge step forwards. 

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