How to use Google Data Highlighter for blog articles in Webmaster Tools
The Data Highlighter is one of many tools you can find in Google Webmaster Tools helping you and Google to understand your site more. This article will show you how to use the Data Highlighter for your blog articles and provide you a long-term solution.
Select sample for the data highlighter
Once you are in the Google Webmaster Tools you can reach the Data Highlighter on left menu under Search Appearance → Data Highlighter.
Click on Start Highlighting to get going.
As a next step Google would like to know the URL of a sample page you would like to highlight.
In my sample I want to use the Data Highlighter for my blog posts. So I have opened a sample post page and copy the URL.
Categorize and mark your data
Paste the URL of your sample page into the field. Then select a category. If your blog is not specifically about movies, reviews etc. and more a general blog with various topics like mine, you can select the category Articles.
Now you can choose if you want to highlight only one page or a set of pages. If your blog has a consistent layout and structure for article you can make use of Tag this page and others like it.
In my case I just select Tag just this page because I want to try it out first.
Your page will be loaded with the Data Highlighter interface as sidebar. From here you have to mark your data on your page to guide Google where to find what.
For the category Articles you can set the following data items:
- Publishing data
- Average rating
On the right you can find a list of data items you can highlight for an article. Now you need to mark the data and select the data type of it in the appearing context menu.
In my sample I have marked the main headline of my article to set it as title.
In the sidebar on the right you can check the data you have set.
Continue highlighting all data items for your sample blog article.
Publish and repeat data highlighting
Once you have completed highlighting you data items you can publish it to Google.
In my case I have marked title, author, publishing date and category.
After publishing your first site it will appear in the Google Webmaster Tools helping Google to understand the structure of your article. If you have selected ..others like it there will be a higher number for articles.
You can now mark more articles or mark other categories on your blog, say if you have a review category or movie rating category e.g.
Summary and long-term solution
The data highlighter in Google Webmaster Tools is a simple tool helping Google to understand your data structure on your pages. I believe the is a positive even though small effect on ranking or at least crawling activity, if you use it since it is a tools provided by Google.
Nevertheless if you have multiple categories or simply too many article to mark them manually — there is a much better solution anyway.
Make use of schema.org as a long-term solution. Highlighting your data in Google Webmaster Tools is great in the beginning and for Google only but if you really want crawling engines to understand your site, you should be start using schema.org markup on your blog which offer only markup for articles but also various other data types.