Although previously denying that structured data might be incorporated into its ranking algorithms, it now looks like Google might change its mind.
The tech giant has repeatedly said in the past that structured markup and rich snippets are not part of the ranking algorithm and do not help a page achieve higher rankings. Now Google’s John Mueller has possibly let the cat out of the bag regarding future changes.
Rich snippets, structured data, and structured markup allow Google and other search engines to get a better idea of your web content and can have the effect of you getting better click-through rates from organic results.
However, Google has always maintained that adding structured markup to your pages does not directly affect the eventually rankings in the company’s searches.
John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at the company, dropped some clues as to possible upcoming changes in a Google Hangout exchange.
Hangouts is Google’s communication platform for instant messaging and video chat that also has SMS and VOIP features. Mueller was heard saying that, “over time, I think [structured markup] is something that might go into the rankings as well.”
Online publishers can make use of structured data methods to highlight content like product review scores or addresses. It essentially works by letting a search engine know what certain words actually relate to.
Mueller spoke about the way structured data might be used in the future when he said: “If we can recognise someone is looking for a car, we can say oh well, we have these pages that are marked up with structured data for a car, so probably they are pretty useful in that regard. We don’t have to guess if this page is about a car.”
“So I think in the long run, it definitely makes sense to use structured data where you see that as being reasonable on the Web site. But I wouldn’t assume that using structured data markup with make your site jump up in rankings automatically. So we try to distinguish between a site that is done technically well and a site that actually has good content,” he added.
As with any changes that Google may go on to eventually introduce, making structured markup and rich snippets an integral part of a webpage would need careful consideration by web publishers in order to take full advantage of the possibilities.
“Just because it is done technically well, it doesn’t mean it is as relevant to the users as content that is not done as technically well”, Mueller explained.