Google has just announced a welcome new addition to the information available in Webmaster Tools: the Structured Data Report.
While Google has long been consuming structured data markup, until now there's been no mechanism to verify that Google had actually consumed the structured markup that webmasters had been providing. With the Structured Data Report, Google is now reports on key pieces of information about structured data present on a website:
- The type and corresponding schema of structured data Google has discovered on a website.
- The total number of occurrences of that structured data type Google has discovered.
- The total number of pages containing each type listed.
- The specific pages on which each structured data type is present.
- Information about the properties present on each page for each structured data type.
Structured Data Type, Schema, Items and Pages
The main report gives an overview of structured data for a given domain, and shows the presence of different items and pages over time (all Google Webmaster Tools reports are live data from seocooking.com).
One of the interesting things about this overview report is that webmasters will be able to see the lag time (if any) between page indexing and the appearance of structured data on a page as reported by Webmaster Tools. I haven't yet created new content containing structured data, but I look forward to finding out whether the indexing of structured data occurs at the same time as page indexing, or if structured data is separately indexed.
While this is likely simultaneous, one will nonetheless be able to see how long it takes Google to index structured data once it has been added to a page, and whether or not the addition or removal of structured data without visible content changes is picked up by Google.
While downloads are always nice, the main utility I see for the data export is to calculate the data type distribution – really only useful for sites with a large number of types and pages.
Note that where there are a greater number of items reported than the total number of pages for that structured data type, this is because one or more pages contain multiple instances of that type.
Information about Specific Structured Data Types
Clicking on a type from the overview report will display a report showing the pages that contain that structured data type. As noted above, pages containing more than one item contain multiple instances of that item. The report displayed below is the result of clicking on the linked "VideoObject" type in the overview report displayed above.
Like the overview report, the type report shows the instances of that type recorded over time. It also displays the specific pages on which that structured data appears and the number of occurrences over time.
Here the data download is potentially more useful, as a webmaster can compare the pages on which he or she thinks that typeshould be present against pages Google actually acknowledges containing that type.
It also alerts webmasters to the presence of structured data they may not have been aware that they were publishing. Many WordPress site owners, for example, will be surprised to see that the platform and certain plugins are producing structured data of their own accord.
Clicking on a specific page will then provide details of the properties present for that structured data type, as well as a link to the Rich Snippets Testing tool (that provides that same information in a different format, as well as warnings about malformed syntax or invalid or missing properties).
Interestingly, Open Graph properties for this page are appearing under the VideoObject itemtype for this page, even if those these properties are not a part of this schema, and are fully separated in the markup of the page (the do not appeared so grouped in the results of the Rich Snippets Testing Tool.
This doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I'll dig deeper to see whether this is a syntax problem on the publishing side or a bug on Google's reporting side.
In any case, I just wanted to provide a quick, first-blush overview of a new Webmaster Tool report that's obviously useful to webmasters and marketers, like me, that have been actively adding structured data markup to websites. I welcome any thoughts or observations from others active in the semantic web as it pertains to search engines.