Google’s Data Highlighter Tool Still Works But It Isn’t Easier Than Markup Anymore

Google Robot Notebook Highlighter

Google launched its data highlighter tool in 2012, and it still works today despite not being migrated to the new Search Console interface, and almost no one I know uses it anymore. Google’s John Mueller said on Mastodon that it just isn’t easier to use the data highlighter these days with all the plugins you can add to your site to handle it automatically.

John Mueller wrote in response to a question on if it makes sense to use the Google data highlighter tool, “No,” it does not make sense to use anymore. He added “it’s only if you can’t implement it” and he said “with all the plugins, implementing is easier than ever.”

I did ask John “is it still true that the data highlighter markup is just as valid and used by Google Search still today?” He said, “Yes.”

Ryan Levering from Google added some caveats to John’s response saying that not all of what the data highlighter does is consumed by Google Search for rich results. Ryan wrote, “The schema types in data highlighter are not all actively consumed in visual features and some have not been updated to support fields that are required by more recent features. But the data will still flow like markup and I’ve seen it pop up in some of our features still (it’s a small amount).”

So it seems using markup will get you a better result. But Ryan said he hopes the tool is upgraded to support more of what is supported with markup. He wrote, “Maybe this will finally be the year I achieve better feature type parity. It’s tougher to do with some features that need data that isn’t always easily found on the page. The search console team also owes me better reporting (it’s filtered out) but it’s hard to complain about until I clean up the supported types.”

John also said a while back that you have more control with markup but both methods are equivalent.

Do any of you use the data highlighter tool? I ran a poll asking and most do not and very few people took the poll, which makes me believe most people doesn’t even know what the data highlighter is:

I wonder why Google has kept it around – you can access it over here.

Forum discussion at Mastodon.

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