Google's Data Highlighter: What If It Conflicts With HTML Markup?

Dec 13, 2012 • 8:58 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Webmaster ToolsGoogle announced the launch of a new tool to help novice webmasters create rich snippet markup (structured data) for their web pages. The tool is a point-and-click tool that lets a webmaster click on words or phrases and add elements of structure data to it without having to go into the code and add it to the HTML.

Here is how Google describes it:

Data Highlighter is a point-and-click tool that can be used by anyone authorized for your site in Google Webmaster Tools. No changes to HTML code are required. Instead, you just use your mouse to highlight and "tag" each key piece of data on a typical event page of your website.

Google's Data Highlighter

It looks easy, I have not tried it because of a couple reasons:

(1) I have HTML based structured data markup on most of my sites that need it.

(2) It is only available right now for event based data.

That being said, someone asked, what if you have both HTML markup and then also use this tool to add markup. What does Google decide to use?

John Mueller answered this on Google+ saying:

To a large extent, I think SEO is about giving a clear & consistent signal to search engines. As soon as you give inconsistent signals, - or worse: conflicting signals - then you can't rely on them doing what you'd really want them to do. Sometimes that's obvious (specify a URL in a Sitemap file that redirects elsewhere), other times it's subtle (specify one element of a page as the name of an event, and use the Data Highlighter to tag a different element as the name). Essentially, it's up to you to provide clear & consistent signals if there's something specific that you want search engines to do.

The best case, someone should try to test it and see what Google decides to use. Let us know.

Forum discussion at Google+ and Google Webmaster Help.

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Cory Howell

12/13/2012 03:35 pm

The tag highlighter appears to have been created for those sites that cannot add the markup code in the first place. If you already have the markup code, the tool isn't intended for you & thus you shouldn't have any conflict(s)... just don't use it.


12/13/2012 04:11 pm

"SEO is about giving a clear & consistent signal to search engines" I think this is the most important part, giving clear reply of what SEO by Google is to all kind of marketers and link builders ... Regarding the topic by itself ... Could you ( googlers ) provide me precise numbers of traffic I'll get from you, if I'll use the markup ? No ? So, why should I use it ? Think about it. You're asking me to structure MY data on MY website, the way YOU can read it easier and show on YOUR website to YOUR visitors. It worked before Panda. Google was predictable partner. Since Panda Google is totally unpredictable ( means unreliable ) partner. Do I need to explain you how to work with unpredictable partners ? Let's make an agreement. I'll help your spiders to read my data and you'll bring me certain amount of monthly traffic. Otherwise I don't see any reason, why should I waste my time on unpredictable experiments. I believe most of the old school guys, your former loyal partners, are feeling same way. You can involve youngsters in these games. Probably some of them will structure for you 200kB of data they own ... until they start asking same question : What is the point in all these for me (team), my website, my visitors, ... The hope, that Google will bring more visitors ? Sorry, this is not enough after Panda.

John Does Moooo

12/13/2012 09:20 pm

Dear Morons, John Mueller is a POS and a liar. He's next in line after Matt Cutts' stock options vest so he's trying to match his idol. This tool is for Google to STEAL your data and send you jack in traffic. Do not fall for it. F John Mueller and the Googler thieves.


12/14/2012 11:57 am

What Google did here is not supported by any of the other search engines. We already have a standardizing body, the W3C, which is the proper channel for Google to introduce such features through.


02/26/2013 08:06 am

Does not make sense to me. If I do a Google Search of "James Patterson" I immediately see his bio and all his books. No events.

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