Monday 11 August, 2014
Google Data Highlighter is an SEO tool that allows you to apply structured data to your page. Through this tool, you can tell Google which parts of your site you’d like to be marked up as structured data. In essence, this gives you more control over what Google indexes for your site, such as what to include in the rich snippets in the search results.
Are you totally confused yet? Let me break it down so that it makes more sense in layman’s terms.
What Is Structured Data?
Structured data, also known as microdata, includes small tidbits of information that describe the details of your site. Think of it as a recipe. It tells Google the name of your recipe, the ingredients, how it’s cooked, how well it went over with your guests, and so on.
When you do a web search, under each listing you’ll see rich snippets. These are something like excerpts from your site, like the back cover of a book. They give web searchers a quick peek at your website.
In effect, Google Data Highlighter allows you to control better what these snippets tell web surfers about your website by highlighting certain parts of your site. You can decide which parts are most important – such as events, reviews, products, etc. – and use Google Data Highlighter to show them to prospective visitors.
A Better Method
If it’s hard to see how life-saving and simple Google Data Highlighter is, consider that in the past, you had to go into your site’s HTML and change it. This meant hiring a web design specialist if you weren’t one yourself.
It should be mentioned that in some cases, you still need to change the HTML. Google Data Highlighter can’t do everything. But it can do quite a bit.
How to Use Google Data Highlighter
Log in to Webmaster Tools and go under Optimization. Here you’ll see Data Highlighter. It will ask you whether you’d like to tag a single page or all pages, and it will show you the tags that you can change if you want to. You can change them by simply clicking which ones you want highlighted, hit publish and it saves the changes.
The Pros and Cons of Data Highlighter
The greatest advantage of using Google Data Highlighter over going into code is that Google likes for you to use its products. Whenever you use its Webmaster Tools, you make it easier for Google, which is the king of the heap when it comes to search engines, to better direct targeted traffic to you.
The downside is that you can’t do everything with GDH. Plus, the changes you make there don’t affect searches from other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.
Basically, Google Data Highlighter is a quick and easy way to take more control over what Google shows about your site in the search results.