Search Console showing errors in your product structured data?

Google’s recent run of enhancement reports in Search Console gives you lots of insights into how your site is performing in search. Sometimes, though, it gives you stuff to think about, like errors or improvements to make. For instance, if you run an online store, you’re bound to have come across this structured data error: “Either ‘offers’, ‘review’ or ‘aggregateRating’ should be specified.” There’s a very easy solution for this if you run WooCommerce and Yoast SEO: our WooCommerce SEO add-on.

The “Either ‘offers’, ‘review’ or ‘aggregateRating’ should be specified” error in Google Search Console 

The “Either ‘offers’, ‘review’ or ‘aggregateRating’ should be specified” happens for a lot of online stores. It means that Google misses several properties in your product schema implementation. By not offering these, your product listings will not reach their full potential in search. This way, Google has a hard time tying all the product-specific properties together to paint a full picture of your product. In some cases, though, they manage, but why let them figure it out? Fixing this becomes imperative if you want a better chance of standing out. 

Who doesn’t want a product listing like the one pictured below?

Valid product schema might lead to eye-popping rich results like this one from Reverb

Oftentimes, however, invalid or incomplete structured data might cripple your perfomance in search. Errors are all too common, like the one in the screenshot from Search Console below.

The “Either ‘offers’, ‘review’ or ‘aggregateRating’ should be specified” error is very common

Help is at hand: Yoast SEO & WooCommerce SEO

WooCommerce is huge in the WordPress world. According to W3Techs, 15% of all WordPress sites run an online shop on the WooCommerce platform. That’s amazing. We have a plugin that helps customers improve their online store: WooCommerce SEO. This addon ties neatly into Yoast SEO, including the big schema graph we build for every site. It also greatly improves the product schema output by WooCommerce. 

If your site runs on WooCommerce and Yoast SEO you need WooCommerce SEO. Besides all the cool behind-the-scenes improvements, it fixes that dreaded “Either ‘offers’, ‘review’ or ‘aggregateRating’ should be specified” error for you: automatically! It gives Google everything it needs to figure out your products are products and thus increases your chances of getting those important rich results.

Why you should fix this error

Google is increasingly betting on schema structured data to help understand the world. If your site offers search engines enough context about what’s on it, the rewards could be great: rich results. And for some types, visibility on other devices like smart speakers or visual assistants.

Getting your product schema right, means you can get these types of results. The one earlier in this article is from Reverb and shows a nicely formed product rich results, with breadcrumbs, product information, ratings and reviews, pricing details and an in-stock message. This is all powered by product schema. 

Reporting on the performance of products 

To help you track how your products are doing, Google recently added a Product enhancement report to Search Console. This report lets you know if your products are correctly structured and, therefore, eligible for rich results. This week, Google also announced that it will allow you to see the performance of your product in the search results. You can now find a new Product line in the Search Appearance section of the Search Performance section. 

Search Console now has a product results view in Search Appearance

This report shows exactly how well your products are doing: how many impressions did they have and how many clicks? This is invaluable data to improve your product listings. 

Fix the error and check your listings

Seeing the product schema error in Search Console? Using Yoast SEO and WooCommerce? Well, you’re in luck. The WooCommerce SEO add-on is the glue that ties the product schema structured data between those two platforms together. It fixes that dreaded error and gives you a better chance at getting your products noticed in Google!

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Get Google’s new video reporting with the Yoast Video SEO plugin

Yesterday, Google announced a new addition to the rapidly expanding lineup of enhancement reports in Search Console. This time, it’s all about video! You can now not only see how your video performs in search, but also if your videos have valid structured data so they are eligible for rich results. Need help getting your videos noticed in Google? We’ve got just the thing!

What’s this Video enhancement report?

Video is incredibly important. Humans are producing an huge amount of video and surfacing the right one at the right moment is a real struggle for a search engine. Google now gives you two new tools to help you improve the performance of your videos in search. The first one is all about helping search engines figure out if there is a video on a site. The second one is about visualizing your video’s performance in search.

By adding structured data to your page, you can identify the most important elements plus its characteristics. By doing this, you make it crystal clear to search engines what is what. As a result, you might be awarded a rich result if the search engine deems your content the best fit for the query. For videos, this might include information on a video’s duration, upload date, and other metadata, as well as previews.

Google is pushing structured data very hard and this latest report shows how important video has become for them and for you. You can now see how your video performs and if there are any technical errors or warnings that keep it from performing better. From here, it’s an easy fix.

But how can I get this for my videos? 

That’s easy: the Video SEO for WordPress add-on for Yoast SEO! As you might know, we launched a massive and innovative Schema structured data implementation in Yoast SEO 11.0. This was the first implementation of its kind — the first to completely tie the content of your site together in code so search engines are eager to gobble it up. Not only that, by connecting everything a search engine now knows what goes where and how it all fits into the bigger picture. This is all available for free in Yoast SEO.

Our add-ons extend this structured data implementation. The Video SEO plugin, for instance, adds specific structured data for videos. And the awesome thing is: you don’t have to do anything to get this on your site. It’s all automatic and it all ties neatly into the rest of the structured data we generate for your site. Just install Video SEO.

Here’s how the new report picks up our structured data, without us having to do any additional work. You can even see the source code by clicking on an example URL.

Click on a post to see the structured data highlighted

So, if you need search engines to understand your videos — who doesn’t? — you need Video SEO for WordPress

What else can I do in the Google Search Console Video enhancement report?

The Video enhancement report not only shows you if Google has trouble understanding your video content, but also how your videos perform in search. In the Performance tab, you’ll find a new Search Appearance type for video. This overview gives you an idea of how many times your videos appear in search and many people click on it. Of course, you can filter it to your hearts content.

See how your video performs in the search results

Help search engines understand your videos

The new Video reports in Google Search Console go a long way in helping Google identify videos via valid structured data. Not only that, it gives you the insights you need to help identify issues and improve performance. All in all, this is a great addition to the treasure trove that is Google Search Console!

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Google’s Knowledge Panel: What is it and how to get one?

Google’s Knowledge Panel is the block you’ll find on the right side of your screen in the search results. Nowadays, you’ll see it for a lot of queries. It presents the results of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which can be seen as an engine connecting all kinds of data Google finds on the web. If you have a local, branded or personal panel, you might be able to influence what Google shows in the panel. Here, we’ll explain how.

What is a Knowledge Panel?

Knowledge Panels are a type of rich results in Google’s search results pages. They can show information about all kinds of things: businesses, people, animals, countries or plants, for instance. Such a panel appears on the right side of your screen in the desktop search results. It shows details on the particular entity you’re searching for. What you see in this panel is powered by Google’s Knowledge Graph.

example knowledge graph panel
An example of a knowledge panel

Why should we care about Knowledge Panels?

If you want to be found for search terms like your name, brand or business name, a Knowledge Panel is really useful! If Google decides to show you or your business in this panel, you pretty much dominate the search results on the right side of the screen in desktop search. In mobile, the panel will appear between other results but is pretty dominant as well.

A Knowledge Panel will, therefore, make sure your company or brand will stand out in the search results when people are specifically searching for it. That’ll give you lots and lots of clicks. This does make sense: if people are searching for you or your brand name, they probably want to find your website. So Google’s providing them with the best result.

How do you get a Knowledge Panel for your business?

As with all types of search results, Google will decide whether or not it’ll show a knowledge panel in the search results. If you’re a local business, you can do some things to increase your chances to rank with a knowledge panel. For the branded and personal panels, it is much harder to obtain such a knowledge panel.

Local panels

If you want a chance of Google displaying a local panel for your business, the first step is to open a Google My Business account. You’ll then be able to verify that you are the owner of your business. After that, you can add or edit all relevant information about your business, such as address information, opening hours and photos.

What also helps, is to verify your site with Google Search Console and to add structured data markup for businesses, as our Local SEO plugin does.

In the end, Google will decide whether or not to show a Knowledge Panel. Relevance, distance, and the prominence of the business are all important aspects for Google in determining if it’ll show one Making sure your website is working well and on a high-authority domain could enhance your chances.

Read more: Improve your local SEO with Google My Business »

Branded/personal panels

It’s not possible to apply for a branded or personal panel. Google will decide whether you or your brand is worthy of a Knowledge Panel. If you or your brand have enough authority, a panel will appear. Brands and people who are well-known and have, for instance, Wikipedia pages, often have Knowledge Panels as well.

For Yoast, we do have a Knowledge Panel. Joost de Valk also has a personal panel and since a while, as you can see, I have one too!

My own personal knowledge panel!

There are ways to increase your chances of getting in, as discussed in this webinar with a.o. Jason Barnard, but it will take lots of time and effort and success isn’t guaranteed, unfortunately.

Yoast SEO and the Google Knowledge Panel

As of our 11.0 release, Yoast SEO outputs a complete Structured data graph for the pages on your website. Structured data offers Google information about you, your business and your website in a way that’s understandable for machines and therefore it’s a great help for Google’s Knowledge Graph.

By doing so, Yoast SEO’s structured data graph helps Google’s Knowledge Graph connect the dots. This doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get a panel, but you’ll offer the data for the panel in the best possible way.

In Yoast SEO, you can also add your social profile information. Yoast SEO will use this data to output the correct Schema markup. This means that, if you get a panel, the right social profiles are shown.

How to verify your panel?

If you have a personal Knowledge Panel, make sure to verify it. Verifying is not all that hard. Follow the steps Google has outlined for you in this article. You need to log in to your Google account and sign in to one of your official sites or profiles to get verification for your business. Once verified, you’ll be able to suggest changes in the panel to influence what it looks like.

Conclusion on Google’s Knowledge Panel

Knowledge Panels are a great asset to have in the search results. For local panels, you should make sure you’re doing everything you can to get one. For branded or personal panels, it is much harder to influence your chances of getting one. It all depends on your level of authority, and that’s something that probably won’t be fixed overnight.

Keep reading: What is Google’s Knowledge Graph »

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How to add HowTo Schema to your how-to article

You might know that structured data in the form of Schema.org can do wonders for your search results. It also forms the basis for an ever-increasing amount of new and exciting developments on the search engine front. Google has said many times that structured data is beneficial. Today, we’re going to look at a relatively new and exciting piece of structured data: the HowTo Schema. This is a how-to about a how-to on HowTo: HowToCeption!

Did you know Yoast SEO now comes with structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor? You can automatically add HowTo and FAQ structured data to your content! »

What is structured data?

Structured data is a sort of translator for search engines — it adds context to code. Schema.org is a so-called vocabulary, in other words, a dictionary. By adding Schema.org search engines can instantly figure out what every piece of content means, semantically speaking. This gives search engines the power to do cool stuff with your content, like highlighted snippets in search results, the Knowledge Graph or the carousel. There’s structured data for books, articles, courses, events, jobs, local businesses, music, recipes, products, reviews et cetera. Structured data is getting more important by the day and we’ll see more types emerge in the coming years.

If you want to learn more about structured data and find out how to implement it yourself so you can win those coveted rich results, you can enroll in our Structured data training!

What is HowTo structured data?

According to Schema.org, a HowTo is “an instruction that explains how to achieve a result by performing a sequence of steps.” You can use HowTo structured data to mark up articles that come in a how-to form, but that are not recipes. If there is an element of consumption, it should be a recipe.

HowTo Schema.org was introduced in April 2017 and has now made its way to Google’s search engine. Google is always looking at structured data to do cool stuff with, so it’s easy to see why HowTo is an awesome addition to the roster. How about this, since your Google Home can now read your structured data powered recipes out loud, why shouldn’t it be able to read that how-to on how to fix a leaky faucet or change the busted lights in your kitchen cabinet? Google already has an action that works with smart displays. Google has confirmed that it supports new forms of search results snippets, like FAQs or frequently asked questions, Q&As and How-Tos.

That’s cool and all, but isn’t there a lot of code involved in building a how-to page with valid structured data? Yes, but Yoast SEO has an answer to that. Read on, my friend!

How to add HowTo structured data using the WordPress content block in Yoast SEO

Looking for an easy way to add it HowTo structured data to your WordPress site? Well, you’re in luck as we have one! In Yoast SEO, we’ve introduced the concept of structured data content blocks for WordPress’ new block editor. These blocks, including one for HowTo and FAQ structured data, automatically add the necessary code to the pieces of content that you add to this block. Of course, it validates perfectly in Google’s Structured Data Testing tool. Now adding structured data to your how-to article is as easy as filling in the fields!

Here’s how to add a how-to to your site:

  1. Open a post in the block editor or add a new one

    The HowTo content block only works in the WordPress block editor.

  2. Hit the + button and pick the Yoast SEO HowTo content block

    You can add your how-to anywhere you want.

  3. The HowTo content block appears on your screen

    In the block, you’ll find a way to add a total time it takes to do this how-to (optional), a description field, a first step and a step description. You can also add an image per step, delete it and move it up and down the list.

  4. Add the first step

    Give it a relevant, descriptive title and fill in more details for the step, if necessary. Determine if you can make the how-to step made more understandable by adding a relevant image. Sometimes, it might be better to add an image to every step.

  5. Add a second step, a third step and a fourth step

    Add as many steps as you need to get this how-to task done. Need to switch steps around? Use the little up and down arrows next to the Add image button. To delete one, simply hit the trashcan button.

  6. And the structured data? It’s added automatically!

    Really? Yup! You can test it in the Structured Data Testing Tool.

  7. Ready? Check and publish!

    Once you are done, re-read the how-to and publish when ready. Check it to see if everything is in order and easy to understand for your user. If not, make improvements.

  8. Test the how-to in Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool

    You can use Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your how-to might look in the search results. Here’s an example for our article on How to build an FAQ page.

Testing in the Structured Data Testing Tool

Here you see the result in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Of course, this screenshot is truncated, as the HowTo part of the structured data is fully integrated in the graph Yoast SEO renders. This makes for a beautifully interconnected piece of code, but also very long:

A truncated screencap of the steps in the how-to

Adding structured data to your site with WordPress or Google Tag Manager

In general, adding structured data requires you to edit the code of your pages. For most people, that requires help of their developers. As you see, there is an easier way. Yoast SEO adds a lot of structured data by itself, but you can also add structured data via the dedicated Yoast SEO structured data content blocks for the block editor.

In addition, or if you don’t use WordPress, you can add structured data via the tags, triggers and variables available in Google Tag manager. What’s more, this way of adding your data gives you an extra amount of flexibility as you can save your variables and reuse them or even dynamically fill them. There are loads of options to explore. Annelieke wrote a post on how to add structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager.

Read our Yoast SEO Schema documentation to see how we work with structured data and how you can extend this.

It’s easy to build a how-to with valid structured data

This was cool, right? Well, you can use this for yourself, but keep in mind that it might take a while for search engines to pick this up. Even then, it’s hard to predict if search engines will do anything at all with your structured data. Using the various testing tools give you a good idea of validity of your structured data, but if it leads rich results is up to search engines!

Read more: Structured data: the ultimate guide »

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How to get a Google answer box

Did you notice Google is offering fewer options for your search results to shine? It seems like Google regularly adds a new box to the search result pages that answers searchers’ questions immediately, without them having to click on anything. For instance, type in [Blade Runner 2049] and you’ll be bombarded by four ads, a full knowledge graph panel, showtimes for the movie, top stories and Twitter feeds until you finally reach the first organic result. Google’s push to rich results not only brings challenges but also opportunities: answer boxes can make you an instant star in the search results. Find out how to get a Google answer box.

Update: Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site! A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? Read all about Yoast SEO 11.0!

What are answer boxes?

A Google answer box (or featured snippet) is a highlighted search box that answers the question you type in the Google search bar. Since this answer box is situated above the regular organic search results, everybody is bound to notice this. So, you can imagine the effect that might have. Having your content as an answer box not only brings in a lot of traffic, but it also proves your authority on the subject – Google picked you, right?

Answer boxes often appear as a paragraph or a bulleted list, accompanied by an image. The image does not necessarily have to come from the article itself. Google seems to pick it, sometimes even from the site of a competitor, although that doesn’t happen that much anymore.

Take the search result [improve mobile site] or [how to improve mobile site]; both yield answer boxes with eight tips to improve your mobile site. I wrote and structured that article with Google’s answer box in mind and it paid off. By structuring the information in an easy to understand way and by giving great suggestions, Google put two and two together and found this post to provide the best answer to the question above. You can do this too.

Featured snippets let you jump to the top of the charts

Now to understand the value of answer boxes, it’s important to see how they live within the search results page. The search results page consists of several parts, among others, the organic search results, ads, and one or more dynamic search blocks. Google is increasingly trying to keep as many clicks as they can to themselves or send them to ad partners. Ads and inline search results like answer boxes, featured snippets, knowledge graph items, et cetera increasingly obfuscate organic search results. For certain searches and industries, that leaves a lot less room to shine with your organic results.

Take that Blade Runner 2049 example I mentioned in the intro. Check the screenshot below (click to enlarge), and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, this is an extreme example, but it does prove my point. Luckily, we can try to get answer boxes to bring us an additional stream of traffic. Not to mention that answering questions is an excellent way to get your content ready for voice search.

Snippet Blade Runner 2049

How to write content for Google answer boxes

There are several ways to try and aim for answer boxes. In the list below, I’ve listed some things you need to keep in mind when writing for Google answer boxes:

  • Do your keyword research
  • Find out what people ask about your keywords/brand/product/service
  • Look at the ‘People also ask’ boxes for ideas
  • Use Answer the Public to find questions to answer
  • Check several current answers to see how it works
  • Find out where you could improve
  • Determine how to structure your content
  • Make your content super helpful and easy to understand
  • Keep your answers short and snappy, at a maximum of 50 words
  • Make the article easy for Google to digest, so use lists, subheadings, etc.
  • Mark up your article with structured data (although you don’t always need it)
  • Watch out that your content doesn’t become/feel unnatural
  • Not every search will yield an answer box (there are even regional variations)

To top it off, find a way to get people to click on the answer box. You don’t want people to read the answer box and move on. In the end, you want them on your site. Don’t give away all the answers immediately, but try to trigger people to come to your site so they can get the full picture.

Answer boxes and structured data

There’s a common misconception that you must always markup your articles with structured data if you want to get answer boxes. That’s not true. The article I mentioned above doesn’t have structured data attached to it, and it still got an answer box. In some cases, however, it is very helpful to add structured data to your content. Case in point: recipes.

If you have content like recipes, or any type of the content types listed by Google, adding the correct structured data will improve your chances of getting an answer box. It’s like telling Google what your page is about by shouting it in a megaphone. Now, Google instantly understands content that has been enhanced with structured data and will use it to show it in all kinds of cool search features. If you want to learn how to apply structured data to your site so you can be rewarded the highly valued rich snippets, you should try our Structured data training.

The old ‘Google determines everything’ adagio

As always, Google and only Google will pick the answers it shows in its search results if it shows them at all. In the end, there’s no magic formula for answer boxes. Google says the science behind it is very much in flux. Even the way Google finds and presents answer boxes is continually changing. For instance, Google is almost certainly looking at engagement and CTR when determining which answer to award an answer box. But there are also instances where Google picks an answer from a site on the second page of the results, or even further down the list. In the end, it always boils down to the simple question: “Does my answer deliver?”

Yes, you can do it too!

Aiming for Google answer boxes can be good fun. It’s hard to predict whether it will work, but once you get one, it’s a blast. You can easily incorporate this when you are writing new content for answer boxes, but updating old posts is worth a shot too. If you have particular pieces of content, like recipes, for instance, structuring your content for answer boxes is almost a must. And while you’re at it, please add structured data for this type of content as it is very important as well. Now, get to it!

Read more: Rich results everywhere »

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Schema.org is hard; we’re making it easy

Getting a Schema.org implementation right on a website was – until today – enormously painful. There was not enough documentation and no good tools to help you to make it truly simple. The best implementations so far really are, sadly, still just a fragmented mess. Today, we’ve fixed that.

The best Schema.org implementations we see ‘in the wild’ often look something like this, when seen by Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool:

Fragmented Schema.org markup, showing disparate, unconnected entities

There are seven Schema pieces on that page, but they’re just that: seven pieces without context. It is not clear what their relation to each other is. To a search engine, this page is still a puzzle which needs solving.

In our implementation, which we’re releasing today, all of the pieces “stitch together”: we form them into a nested structure. Without this nesting, a search engine doesn’t know how all these pieces relate to each other, and what the most important piece on a page is. Our implementation also clearly and explicitly defines the “main thing” on that page. This removes all of the guesswork and adds a lot of context for search engines.

Let’s look at an example: a post here on Yoast.com. This post is an Article. The article is the main “thing” of a WebPage, which is part of a Website. This Article is published by an Organization and written by an Author. Both the Author and the Organization have social profiles attached to them. These separate blocks are now all woven together: it’s simply a nested structure.

The @id is the glue

The secret of our delicious graph is one simple “thing”: using @id to connect graph pieces to each other. We output separate pieces but by using those @id references, we connect them to each other.

Because we can nest them like that, it doesn’t have to stop at that simple structure: the WebPage has a position within the site, outlined by its BreadcrumbsList. The Author, the Organization and the Article have images. Etc. etc. etc. All of that data is combined.

Why did we develop this?

We didn’t just start implementing this for the fun of it. We are solving a real-world problem: as more and more people implement Schema.org markup, the situation shown in the screenshot at the top of this article is no longer unique. Lots of pages, with lots of separate Schema blocks, are a problem. In a call with Pinterest recently one of their engineers complained: all the Schema that WooCommerce put out was nice, but when there are related products on a page, they often can’t find the main product. Our implementation solves that and many other problems.

On every page, we output the entire graph for that page, and we clearly mark the mainEntity, so Google, Pinterest, and others are no longer left guessing. Every relationship is made explicit.

What do these changes mean for you?

This change has short-term implications: you have a higher chance of getting:

  • Correct info in Google Knowledge Panels and full support for Rich Article Pins on Pinterest, due to better Schema output from Yoast SEO.
  • Showing up in a News listing or carousel if you use our News SEO plugin, due to the new NewsArticle support.
  • Higher chance of product snippets in Google Search results if you use our WooCommerce SEO plugin and full support for Rich Product pins on Pinterest, due to better Product support in it.
  • Higher chance of good local listing snippets, due to better LocalBusiness schema in our Local SEO plugin.

Long term implications for the web

These changes also have long term implications: we weave a web of data. This type of machine-readable data makes it possible for platforms to build much cooler things. And we wouldn’t be Yoast if we didn’t do this all out in the open. We have a full set of developer documentation on how to do this, and how to interact with our Schema API. Everyone can integrate with this, everyone can build upon it; in fact, we encourage you to do that!

We’ve also documented all our output, so you can learn from it, copy it, play with it. The specification document explains it all more in-depth and explains all the fantastic research that Jono has been doing in this.

I’m deeply excited about this change and think it’s the start of something really big. Now, go upgrade to Yoast SEO 11.0 and check it out!

Read more: Yoast SEO 11.0: Structured data awesomeness »

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Adding JSON-LD structured data with Google Tag Manager

You’ve probably heard us talk a lot about structured data, Schema.org and JSON-LD. Schema structured data on your site can result in highlighted search results. In this article, we’ll show you how to implement structured data using the JSON-LD Schema.org markup on the pages of your site. Here, we’ll take a closer look at how to implement structured data with Google Tag Manager.

We’ve just launched a brand new training on structured data and SEO. This training has an introductory price of $119. On July 2, this will jump to the regular price of $149.

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

Structured data training$ 119 - Buy now » Info

Structured data with Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is a tool that can take your marketing to the next level without the need of a developer. It’s a tool that can easily add scripts or pieces of code to a page. There are several advantages to using Tag Manager to implement structured data.

For one, you can generate tags, triggers, and variables, which means that you can apply the same code again and again on different pages. For instance, if you have loads of recipes, you can create a tag with the variable “preparation time”, so the preparation time of every recipe will be taken from a recipe page. This means you won’t have to add the preparation time manually to the code of every single page. In the end, this will save you a lot of work.

In addition, Tag Manager features a preview mode, which allows you to check whether you successfully implemented your data immediately. Read the post Google Tag Manager: An Introduction to get started.

How Google Tag Manager works

First, you need to know about three important elements: Variables, Triggers and Tags. You can find these elements on the left-hand side of your workspace. A workspace is a place where you work on creating and adding pieces of code to your pages.

google tag manager structured data workspace

Tags

A tag is a piece of code that can be fired on a page of your website. You can put many things in a tag. For instance, you can add the Google Analytics tracking code in a tag. This tag will enable Google Analytics to track your website. Similarly, you can put your structured data code in a tag. In other words: a tag contains information as to what you want to add to a page.

Triggers

Tags only work when there’s a trigger attached. You need a way of telling Google Tag Manager under which condition a tag must be used, or fired, as we call it. If you have a structured data tag, the trigger tells Tag Manager on which pages to fire that tag. This is because it’s possible that not all your pages need a recipe structured data markup, for instance. Simply put, a trigger tells Tag Manager: “Please fire this tag on these pages, but not on these pages”.

Variables

Variables serve two functions. Firstly, triggers need variables to know whether or not to fire. Suppose Tag Manager runs on your page. If the value of the variable meets the conditions you set, the trigger will fire. This, in turn, allows the tag to work. Secondly, the variable provides Google Tag Manager with variable information. This means that the information can be different in different contexts. A Date Published, for example, will be different for every eBook you publish. If the trigger fires, Google Tag Manager will then fetch the specific value from the specific page it visits.

An example of a variable is the URL of a page, but you can use any element of a page as a variable. It could be an ‘Add to cart’ button, or the H1 of a page, for example. The most commonly used variables are predefined in Google Tag Manager. But things like buttons or the H1 are variables you have to define yourself. With variables, you can edit your code in such a way that it will take elements from the current page to use in a tag.

Adding JSON-LD to your site step by step

We’re going to guide you through implementing structured data on your pages. We’ll take the Schema.org type Course as an example. As stated, we’ll use JSON-LD markup. There are five steps to take:

  1. Make structured data
  2. Create tags and triggers
  3. Create variables
  4. Trigger your code
  5. Validate and publish

Step 1: Creating the structured data code

Produce structured data JSON-LD code, either by hand or by using Google’s Markup Helper. In this example, we’re using Course markup, which looks like this:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org",
  "@type": "Course",
  "name": "Site structure training",
  "description": "Learn how to create site structure for your site that makes Google understand your site and makes visitors go where they need to be",
  "provider": {
    "@type": "Organization",
    "name": "Yoast",
    "sameAs": "https://yoast.com/"
  },
      "offers": {
        "@type": "Offer",
        "price": "99",
        "priceCurrency": "USD"
  }
}
</script>

After you’ve created your markup, you have to get it ready for Google Tag Manager with Yoast’s JSON-LD Script Helper tool. Paste your code and hit Submit. The tool will create a piece of code you can use in Google Tag Manager. Copy it. You’ll need it for your new tag.

Step 2: Creating tags in Tag Manager

You’re ready to make your tags and triggers. Follow the steps below:

  • Make a new tag and give it a name (Site structure training, for instance)
  • Click Tag Configuration and choose tag type: Custom HTML
  • Paste code from the script helper tool
  • Check Support document.write
  • Hit Save

google tag manager structured data tag configuration

Step 3: Creating triggers

You need to add a trigger, so it knows when to fire the tag. You can do this on the same screen you see in the screenshot above, or directly from the Triggers screen in the Workspace. Click on the Triggering space in your new tag and choose the correct Page View. Hit Save. Your snippet is now implemented as is (see below for working with variables).

If there are no triggers yet, you can add them on the same screen. If you want a trigger to a specific page, you can copy the relevant piece of the URL and add it to a new trigger. So if you only want to trigger a tag on this page: https://yoast.com/academy/course/site-structure-training/, you need to copy the part /academy/course/site-structure-training/.

Hit the New or + button to add a new trigger. Give it a name and click on Trigger Configuration. Choose Page View from the list of trigger types and click on Some Page Views. You can now choose when the tag should trigger and which conditions should be met before it’s possible. In our case, we want to trigger the tag on https://yoast.com/academy/course/site-structure-training/. That’s why we’ll choose Page Path and Equals from the dropdown, and paste the URL into the empty box.

google tag manager structured data trigger configuration

Step 4: Creating variables

Variables make it much easier to implement the same structured data on many different sites. The variables can be found on the left-hand side of the workspace as well. You’ll see all predefined variables. There’s also an option for user-defined variables. To create a variable, click on New. After that, take the following steps:

  • Name the variable
  • Click on Variable Configuration
  • Choose Variable type
  • In this example: DOM Element

The fourth step depends on the type of tag or trigger you want to create. In this example, we’ll use a DOM Element. A DOM Element is a piece of your page, like a DIV, HTML and BODY. In this example, the DOM Element is the H1, which is the most important heading of the page.

Once you’ve clicked on the DOM Element, you need to choose which method you want to use to select a page element with. In this case, we’ll use a CSS Selector. By simply entering h1 into the Element Selector, you’ve created a variable that takes the H1 of a page.

If you want to use the meta description of a page, enter meta[name=”description”] and that variable will add the meta description of your pages.

google tag manager structured data variable configuration

Once you’ve created these variables, you can use them in your tags.

google tag manager structured data meta description

As you can see, you can use the H1 variable for the “name” and Meta description variable for the “description”. Now, the Course Schema.org markup sends the right name and description to Google.

Variables make this method of implementing structured data flexible and scalable. This way, you produce code that can be used in many places, without having to add it manually or change it for every instance. You only have to set up the tags once.

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

Structured data training$ 119 - Buy now » Info

Step 5: Test, saving and publishing

You’re ready to test your code. Tag Manager has a Preview mode that lets you test code before you publish it on a live site. Go to your Workspace to activate that mode.

In your browser, go to the page you’re implementing structured data on and refresh. You’ll see the Preview tab appear and this should show you the tags that fired. If you want to know more, you can go to the Window Loaded screen to see if your variables were executed properly. If all is well, your H1 variable should now show the same value that’s visible on the site (the title). Always test your code before publishing!

google tag manager structured data preview

If all the information displayed on this screen is correct, you can publish your tag. If there are still some flaws, go through the steps again.

To publish your tag, hit the Submit button you see at the top right. Give your version a descriptive name and press Publish. Once you’ve published your structured data tag, go to the Structured Data Testing Tool and enter the URL of the page that should now contain structured data. With this tool you can check if the structured data is implemented correctly:

google tag manager structured data end result

See no errors and warnings? Well done! If you do see errors, dive in more deeply and read what Google has to say about it.

Want to learn more about structured data? Try our brand new Structured data course!

Read more: ‘Structured data with Schema.org and JSON-LD: the ultimate guide’ »

New online SEO training: Structured data

If you want your search results to stand out from your competition’s, you’ll need rich snippets. You’ll want to pimp your results with 5 star reviews, stock information or location, for example. To get a rich snippet, you have to learn to implement structured data. Our latest SEO course will teach you exactly how to do just that! If you buy the online structured data course now, you’ll receive a major discount. You’ll only pay $119 instead of $149.

Want rich snippets for your site? Try our Structured data training »

Structured data training$ 119 - Buy now » Info

Practical course

The structured data course is a very practical course. We’ll first teach you some theory about SEO and why structured data is important, but then we’ll quickly dive into the practical implementation. If you buy our course, you’ll receive lots of screencasts and step-by-step examples on how to implement structured data on your own site. We’ll teach you the fancy (but hard way) to do it, but also the less elegant, quick-and-easy way. Everyone – you don’t have to be a developer! – will be able to get going with structured data after they’ve completed this course.

Watch the first video of the structured data training if you really want to know what this course has to offer:

What does the Structured data training contain?

The Structured data training consists of three modules. In the first module, we explain what structured data is and why it’s important. The second module is by far the largest and most important module. In this module, we explain exactly how to implement structured data on your site. The third module teaches you how to evaluate structured data and provides you with some useful tips.

The online course contains 6 training videos, lots of reading material and challenging questions after every lesson. The questions will test whether you really understood the material. We estimate that you’ll spend 8 hours (on average) on our course. You’ll really need to dive into the subject to fully understand this SEO topic. At the end of the course, you’ll receive a certificate and a badge to put on your site!

SEO basics: What are rich snippets?

Maybe you’ve heard about the concept of rich snippets. SEO experts seem to think everyone knows exactly what rich snippets are. But, for SEO newbies, a rich snippet is a really vague term. What are rich snippets exactly? Time to explain what rich snippets are, why they’re important for SEO and how you can get them for your site.

What are rich snippets?

A snippet is a result Google shows to the user in the search results. An example: I was searching for a good recipe for homemade ice cream and googled it. Google showed me a results list with normal snippets and rich snippets. A normal snippet usually looks like this:

Google shows the title in blue, the URL in green and a description of what the page is about. This is what we call the snippet, the thing Yoast SEO helps you to optimize with our snippet preview.

A rich snippet shows extra information between the URL and the description. A rich snippet looks like this:

In this snippet, a picture of the ice cream is added, you can see the rating of the recipe, the time it takes to prepare this type of ice cream and the number of calories it contains. A rich snippet contains much more information than the normal snippet does. That’s why we call it a rich snippet.

Why are rich snippets important for SEO?

Rich snippets stand out from the other snippets. They look much nicer and you’ll instantly know more, just by looking at them. You’ll know whether other people liked the homemade ice cream and how long it’ll take you to make it. Rich snippets are snippets that have a higher click-through rate. People like to click on rich snippets.

If the click-through rate of a snippet increases, you’ll get more traffic from that search result. Not because your position in the search engine changed, but just because more people click on your result. In the long run, rich snippets will have an effect on your ranking as well. As more people click on your result, Google will notice that people prefer your page above other ones. That’ll definitely improve your rankings in the long run!

How do you get rich snippets?

Google can show rich snippets if you add structured data to your site. Structured data is a piece of code in a specific format, written in such a way that search engines understand it. Search engines read the code and use it to create rich snippets.

Read more: ‘What is structured data’ »

Adding structured data to your website can be quite daunting. But we’re here to help! As of tomorrow, Yoast offers an online training to teach you how to implement structured data so Google can show rich snippets. We’ll show you different strategies (from beginner to more advanced levels), so that everyone will be able to get started with structured data and get those rich snippets!

Keep reading: ‘Structured data with Schema.org: the ultimate guide’ »

Coming soon: Structured data training!

Do you want to increase chances people click on your page in the search results? Want to learn how to get those awesome rich snippets? Next week, we’ll launch our Structured data training. In this new training, you’ll learn how structured data can influence the appearance of your pages in the search results. After completing this course, you’ll be able to add structured data yourself, so Google can show a rich snippet.

Why take our structured data training?

A normal snippet of a recipe looks like this:

You see a title, a URL and a description of a page. If you add structured data to your page, Google (or another search engine) can transform your snippet into this:

So the structured data you add can show up in the snippet. For recipes you can add ratings and reviews, cooking time, calories and an awesome picture. Not only for recipes, but also for books, movies, articles, products etc. structured data exists.

Rich snippets let your page stand out from the other search results in Google. And if your page stands out in the search results, chances are much higher people will click on it.

Is adding structured data hard?

Adding structured data is not very hard, but you do need to know what you’re doing. After some training, everyone should be able to add structured data and get rewarded with those desired rich snippets!

We’ve created a very practical online training in which we take you through all the steps of adding structured data to a site. We’ll first explain the theory and then we’ll show you screencasts that will guide you through the steps you need to take. We’ll discuss multiple strategies you can use to add structured data to a website. Some strategies are more advanced (and more daunting) than others. At the end of the course, you’ll be able to add structured data in multiple ways. Just choose which strategy fits you best and start working on those awesome rich snippets yourself!

Want to buy our course?

The structured data training will be available as of June 29. You can purchase the course for the introductory price of $119 until July 2. You’ll get access to over 75 minutes of training videos, lots and lots of reading material and challenging quiz questions. If you finish our course, you’ll receive a certificate and a badge to put on your site. If you buy one of our courses, you’ll also get access to the Yoast Updates. These updates keep you in the loop about new trends in SEO and WordPress every 3 months.

Want to know more?

Check out the Structured data training and make sure you won’t miss the launch by subscribing to our newsletter!

Not the right training for you? We offer lots of other SEO courses. See which one fits your needs best!