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Google’s New Data Highlighter Lets You Add Structured Data To Your Sites Without Touching Any Code

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Google wants website owners to add as much structured data to their sites as possible in order to improve its search results and Knowledge Graph boxes with rich snippets like event listings, reviews and other information. Adding this kind of metadata to a site, however, isn’t always trivial, and many small businesses don’t really have the expertise to add microdata or RDFa markup to their sites.

Starting today, however, you won’t have to fiddle with your code to report this data to Google. The company’s new Data Highlighter now offers a point-and-click tool for tagging your site to its specifications without having to touch any code.

For the time being, this tool is only available in English and only for structured data about events like concerts, sporting events, and exhibitions. Google promises to expand this project to other data types and languages in “the months ahead.”

iroquois-dance-event-data-highlighter

To get started, you just have to go to Google’s Webmaster Tools and start tagging their site. Here is a short video with step-by-step instructions for how to get started:

What’s especially cool about this approach is that if your site lists multiple events in a consistent format, the Data Highlighter will automatically recognize these going forward. Typically, Google says, “5 or 10 manually tagged pages are enough for our sophisticated machine-learning algorithms to understand the other, similar pages on your site.” After you are done, you simply hit publish and from then on, Google will regularly crawl your site for new event listings and add them to its enhanced search results.

It’s worth noting that adding this data doesn’t guarantee that it will always appear in search results. As Google notes, “each product applies its own rules when deciding whether and how to display the data. For example, Google search results will display as rich snippets only for events that are in the future and that appear to be legitimate events.” Google also warns webmasters not to use Data Highlighter to try to promote non-event products or services.