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The Past, Present and Future Of Structured Data With Google Search

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The Past, Present and Future Of Structured Data With Google Search

Lizzi Sassman and Martin Splitt brought on a special Google guest on their Google search off the record podcast to discuss structured data. The guest is named Ryan Levering who has been with Google for over 11 years working on structured data.

Structured Data Past At Google

In short, Ryan Levering explained that when he first started working on the structured data project, he worked on that legacy data highlighter tool in Search Console. But early on, Google seemed to try to move away from requiring us to highlight or markup our content and wanted to use machine learning to figure it all out, which Google’s Gary Illyes said back in 2017 but kind of retracted in 2018. So Google poured a lot of effort into machine learning to figure it out.

Structured Data Present At Google

But over time, Ryan said, it was “much easier �to just ask people to give us their data rather than to pull it off of the web pages.” “It’s surprisingly more accurate,” he added. So they then moved more resources into building out structured data and support documents for site owners to use and hand over the data.

But machine learning is now thrown out the window. Ryan said they still use it a lot for (1) sites that do not use structured data where Google wants to still show rich results for those, (2) for mistakes or abuse, so Google can verify what really the page is saying compared to the structured data. So Ryan said it is a “multiple pronged approach” to using structured data and machine learning for understanding it all.

So that is how Google uses it all today but what about the future.

Structured Data Future At Google

The “medium term future,” Ryan said they plan on using structured data “not just visual treatments but actually help with more understanding on the page.” Google has mentioned this before, that structured data can help Google understand the page but it is not a ranking factor. I guess Google will be working more on that. Plus, medium term future” Ryan said Google wants figure out “how to use structured data more universally in a lot of our features rather than just like here and there, scattered around.”

Long term, Google said how Google can use structured data with how Google “interprets it in general into our internal graph.” Ryan said he “would like to move to where we are adjusting more and more data through structured data-specific channels rather than necessarily conveying all of our information on the web page itself.” Basically figuring out a “cleaner way to do data transfer between data providers and Google.” How does Google do this, he said maybe by working with the large CMS platforms so they can build it into their platforms directly.

Here is the podcast embed:

Here are parts of the transcript:

Ryan Levering : So, my introduction, when I started at Google, we were working on extraction from web pages. So like doing it via ML. So we came in, and the first thing I worked on was the data highlighter product, which is externally. We were looking at web pages and pulling structured data from unstructured text, and my whole team was very into the actual ML aspects of it. So how do we extract data, which in academic circles is often called “wrapper induction”? So when you take the– you build a wrapper that can pull the data out of a template. So reverse engineer the database. But after several years of working on it, there was another project that was side by side that was extracting structured data, which became the core of what we use now.

And I became convinced, after talking to people for a long period of time that, it was much easier �to just ask people to give us their data rather than to pull it off of the web pages. It’s surprisingly more accurate. There’s other problems that can happen because of that, but it’s generally an easier thing to do. And it’s a lot less work for us, and it’s a lot better for the provider. So I came to it from ML and seeing structured data as the enemy at first. And then I was won over as a good mechanism.

So machine learning is– I see as like multiple prongs in our approach for how we get stuff. We want to use machine learning for cases where either we don’t have more information where it’s not provided for us. But it’s always going to be easier to just have the data shown to us, I think. So we will try– I think it’s like a multi-tiered approach, where you have machine learning for cases where we don’t have that data specifically. But then providers always have the option of giving us data, which usually improves accuracy, which usually gives better benefit for the actual provider. So I always see them as working side by side in an ideal world.

Most of our features over time migrate to that approach where we ingest it. Maybe we start with one approach where we’re just using ML. And then we eventually add markups so people have control. Or it’s the opposite way around. And we start– we bootstrap with markup in an eco-system approach where people are giving us data. And then we enhance coverage of the feature by adding ML long run. So, I see them as very compatible. But it’s always good to empower people who are giving you data, to have control over that. So I think it’s really important that structured data in general is part of the overall strategy so the people can actually have some control over the content that we show.

The primary challenge is that we then have to figure out a way to verify that the structured data is accurate. And sometimes this is from actual abuse. And sometimes this is just because there’s a problem with synchronicity. Sometimes people generate structured data for their websites and it becomes out of sync with the actual stuff that’s being shown visually. We see a lot of both. So there needs to be other mechanisms to figure out some balancing act where those things are enforced. So that’s the cost of structured data, I guess, is that extra checking.

Lizzi Sassman: Yeah, speaking of the work that has been done, what about the work that’s to come, the next couple of years for structured data? If you were to give us a peek into the future, what is next for structured data?

Ryan Levering: In the medium-term, I think we’re… I mean we continue to flesh out the structured data usage in terms of adding more features and looking into more ways we can use it in cooler things that are not just visual treatments but actually help with more understanding on the page, I think. And figuring out how to use structured data more universally in a lot of our features rather than just like here and there, scattered around. I think that’s what we’re looking at in a medium-term.

Long-term, I think that it’s going to play a really interesting role at interacting with the way that we interpret it in general into our internal graph. So I would like to see more machine learning, figuring out– I would like to move to where we are adjusting more and more data through structured data-specific channels rather than necessarily conveying all of our information on the web page itself. So I think that’s a much cleaner approach, particularly for some of our structured data ingestion paths. So figuring out a way to get around the actual visual representation and figuring out ways to link the structured data with the web page but not necessarily embed it on the web page. So I think there’s a cleaner way to do data transfer between data providers and Google.

I think that it will make it easier for plug-ins and CMSs to create that information particularly. Because I feel like a lot of the eco-system has moved in that direction where people aren’t implementing the structured data themselves but rather are using content creation tools. I think it’s becoming more important that we have mechanisms to work directly with those content creation tools to ingest the data in a programmatic way in order to make it fresher and easier.

Forum discussion at Twitter.



Source: www.seroundtable.com

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Google Search Ranking Volatility Over The Memorial Day Weekend

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Google Logo Explode

While I highly doubt Google pushed an algorithmic change over Memorial Day, there was a significant spike in chatter in the SEO community and the third-party Google Search tracking tools are showing volatility. Yes, traffic can be weird and lower on Memorial Day – I get that – but there seems to be more movement than normal.

So, was there a Google Search ranking update over Memorial Day weekend? Let me share what I am seeing but before I do.

Just a reminder that we saw Google ranking volatility around May 22nd, May 16th, May 9th, May 3rd and April 25th. Before that the March 2024 core update started on March 5th and ended on April 19th, 45 days later. It has been a busy month.

SEO Chatter

I began seeing chatter at WebmasterWorld on Sunday, May 26th and the chatter continued on through yesterday. Here is some of what was said in the forums:

Wow, I am seeing a 70% drop in traffic to my site’s homepage this weekend. Now a drop is normal on holiday weekends, but certainly not 70%….what’s up with that?

Very poor weekend for my global site at 60% yesterday and so far today after 20 hours at 40%. I expect tomorrow to be equally low.

UK hotel site ended up yesterday after a very slow start and has been extremely busy today as hoped for with food and live music.

What a strange weekend. Saturday traffic from Google collapsed, Sunday a strong increase, today so far 1 hour a lot of traffic, one hour as good as nothing, this has been going on since 6 am. I give up trying to understand that.

For me too, a little bit down again at the weekend. It goes down, down and down. Nobody knows why or why. I’m slowly but surely coming to terms with the fact that this topic no longer has a future. 🙁

Oh wow, there is life after Google. My traffic overnight is +140%. Bringing me back to, almost, where I was. I think a few new articles went viral but Google, was -20%. So none of this increased traffic was sent from them. Nice! After months and weeks of solid decline I now see an increase. Now to try and maintain it.

Traffic back to normal for me today which surprised me a little.

It is a holiday weekend in the UK therefore I went out for a few beers last night and it really did shock me. Several pubs were already closed and the normally really busy pubs were all absolutely dead … Were all the supposed 20 million car journeys happening last night?

I also saw some chatter on this site:

I thought Google would leave it alone on memorial day but seems there is now shuffling in my niche anyway. It was actually awfully quiet for a few days with pretty much no changes in the rankings. But it’s starting again. It’s just sick. I don’t get why the rankings shuffle so much day to day. I have read the theories here and they seem correct. Could be A/B testing. Who even knows.

Someone is feeling a difference during this weekend?

Glenn Gabe also spotted changes, he wrote, “Well, add 5/26 to the list. I’m seeing some confirmed surges in rankings across sites I have access to. And these are sites also impacted by the March core update.”

And more:

Google Tracking Tools

As you can see, most of these tools have been super heated and showing a lot of Google ranking volatility over the past week.

Semrush:

Semrush

SimilarWeb:

Similarweb

Advanced Web Rankings:

Advancedwebranking

Mozcast:

Mozcast

SERPmetrics:

Serpmetrics

Accuranker:

Accuranker

Mangools:

Mangools

Wincher:

Wincher

SERPstat:

Serpstat

Cognitive SEO:

Cognitiveseo

Algoroo:

Algoroo

What did you all see this weekend?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.



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Google’s Site Reputation Abuse Policy Is Not Algorithmic Yet

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Google Robot Police

Google has once again said that its enforcement of the site reputation abuse policy is still only being done through manual actions and not algorithmically. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liasion, said this on X yesterday, “We have not gone live with algorithmic actions on site reputation abuse.”

Sullivan added that “when we do, we’ll be very clear about that.” Meaning, when Google starts to enforce the site reputation abuse policy through algorithmic means, Google will announce it somewhere. Likely on the its search status page.

As a reminder, Sullivan said this on May 6th on X, as we covered back then. He wrote then, “we’re only doing manual actions right now. The algorithmic component will indeed come, as we’ve said, but that’s not live yet.” So the algorithmic component 18 days later is still not live.

Sullivan added:

Publishers seeing changes and thinking it’s this — it’s not — results change all the time for all types of reasons. The actions currently only also impact the content being actions, not the entire site, as the action notices I believe make clear.

This was in response to some SEOs saying that the site reputation abuse policy is algorithmic now. Google is saying no, it is not.

Here is that post:

Google did say the site reputation abuse policy would be enforced both algorithmically and through manual actions but when it first went live, it was only enforced using manual actions.

As a reminder, site reputation abuse “is when third-party pages are published with little or no first-party oversight or involvement, where the purpose is to manipulate Search rankings by taking advantage of the first-party site’s ranking signals,” Chris Nelson from the Google Search Quality team wrote. This includes sponsored, advertising, partner, or other third-party pages that are typically independent of a host site’s main purpose or produced without close oversight or involvement of the host site, and provide little to no value to users, he explained.

Here is more commentary on this topic from yesterday:

I should add, there is a lot of confusion around a lof of the ranking volatility over the past few weeks. There was a lot of unconfirmed Google updates in the past few weeks that really shuffled things around in the Google search results.

Forum discussion at X.



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Google Ranking Volatility, Ads In Google AI Overviews, Sundar Pichai Interview, Heartfelt Helpful Content & More Ad News

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Google Ranking Volatility, Ads In Google AI Overviews, Sundar Pichai Interview, Heartfelt Helpful Content & More Ad News

We had more Google search ranking volatility in the middle of the week after some calming for a few days. Google Ads will soon show within the Google AI Overview, plus we covered a lot more ad news. Sundar Pichai was interviewed, and we broke it down. Bing lets you turn off its AI Copilot answers in the search results, but Google still does not. There are many poor-quality AI Overviews, and now there is a way to find a lot of them. Google said it is working on surfacing more heartfelt, helpful content in Search. Google is testing a special snippet treatment for Reddit. Google Search Console is showing a weird surge in the search performance reports for product snippets. Google and Bing recommend you upgrade to WordPress 6.5 because it supports lastmod dates in sitemaps. Google’s site reputation abuse policy enforcement is still not algorithmic. Google Lens now shows richer and links to sites. Google added more visual knowledge panel source information. Google can now index epub formats. Bing went down this week, taking down ChatGPT search, DuckDuckGo, Copilot, and more services. Bing is testing tags filters in its search results. Apple Maps can permanently close a business if the hours and address are missing or don’t match. GA4 real-time reports now show users in the last 5 minutes. That was the search news this week at the Search Engine Roundtable.

SPONSOR: This week’s video recap is sponsored by Duda, the Professional Website Builder You Can Call Your Own.

Make sure to subscribe to our video feed or subscribe directly on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favorite podcast player to be notified of these updates and download the video in the background. Here is the YouTube version of the feed For the original iTunes version, click here.

Search Topics of Discussion:

Please do subscribe on YouTube or subscribe via iTunes or on your favorite RSS reader. Don’t forget to comment below with the right answer and good luck!

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