How to Use Data Highlighter to Include Events Data in Rich Snippets

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Rich snippets in Google search results have tremendously helped both visitors and webmasters to get and present added information about a website in an effective way. The inclusion of author profiles has further enriched it making the snippet more credible and trustworthy. But apart from rich snippets, site links and similar information pieces, sometimes we also want to let the visitors know about important business events, promotions, webinars and similar other happenings mentioned on our website. How to get them within rich snippets data? Well, you can do so very easily through data highlighter in Google webmaster tools. It's extremely easy-to-use and increases the engagement rate immediately once the event data starts appearing in the search results. Let's see how to use this powerful data highlighter tool.

Log in to your Google webmaster tools and head over to 'Optimization' drop down menu. Here you can access the data highlighter tool. Make sure the website for which you want to supply the event information must be verified in your Google webmaster tools account. First of all, you must know how this event data looks in the search results. Broadly, it can be categorized into three different formats.

Single event data - The image shown below illustrates how a single event data will be shown right below the page description. You can see several parts associated with the event data record.

Single event rich snippet in Google search results

Date, hyperlinked event information page and location are some of the prominent event data pieces included in the search result. This immensely helps in getting more visitors for the event from organic sources which was not possible earlier.

Multiple events data - The second type of event data that may be included with your rich snippet is the inclusion of data associated with multiple upcoming events mentioned on your website. These multiple events can be of similar type or can differ from each other completely.

Multiple events rich snippet in Google search results

As you can see in the image above, multiple events data is shown on separate links with a hyperlinked information page. Each record may contain additional information like speakers of the event and venue. The record structure is dependent on how well you've supplied the event data through data highlighter while configuring the entire setup.

Knowledge graph - And last but not the least is the big Google knowledge graph that is displayed on the right side of the search results. It's like a large information packed section that provides several types of event related information in an interactive content box.

Google knowledge graph in search results

Knowledge graph contains more detailed information about the event like location on map, weather, scrollable events list, photographs of the venue and much more. It is used when rich data set about multiple events in available on a single page and it is correctly supplied to the data highlighter tool by the webmaster. Now let's see how to use this powerful tool.

Select the Page or Set of Pages

Before you start to use this tool, you must shortlist the page or pages that contain the information about the event, promotion or campaign you want to supply to the data highlighter tool.

If there are multiple pages in a single set containing similar types of events on different dates, you have to use wild card characters while supplying these pages information to the tool. For example,

www.yourwebsite.com/events/play/*

The wild character '*' ensures that all the pages under the directory 'play' are included in the set for collecting events data. If the events data is located in different sub directories in different web pages under the parent folder, you may use the following URL structure.

www.yourwebsite.com/events/play/*/*

The first asterisk covers all the sub directories or web pages (if any) under the parent 'play' directory, while the second asterisk includes all the web pages within the sub directories. For smaller websites, generally we never need to create sets of multiple pages as we have limited number of pages containing such type of event related information.

Tag Pages and Supply Event Properties

As I mentioned before, you never need to change existing HTML code of your website to use this feature. It's a simple point and click tool that helps you supply the important event related data through a guided wizard. So, let's see an example, how we can tag pages to provide event data to Google for richer snippets in search results.

URL in dialogue box

In the image shown above, I've provided the URL of a single web page that I'm going to tag for demonstration purpose. Make sure you provide the complete URL including the 'http' part. The data highlighter loads the page in a special frame where you can easily tag different properties related to your event or promotion.

GWT event data tagging activity

Simply select the relevant text, image, dates, URL and associate each one of them with the appropriate event property. Some of these properties are mandatory, while others are optional. It may happen sometimes that you cannot fill all the mandatory properties through pointing and clicking on the web page.

In such cases, you can provide these values manually by clicking the gear icon on the top right side. This will present you with the following dialogue box, where you can fill out all the left mandatory event properties.

Missing event property filling dialogue box

Once you've completed filling and tagging all the event properties, press the 'Publish' button to complete the process. It may take several weeks before your event related data will start appearing in the rich snippets. For best results, make sure you not only provide the most accurate event property information but also update it (if required) on a regular basis.

In case, you wish to stop event data associated with a particular event from appearing in the search results, simply go to your Google webmaster tools account and unpublish the page or set of pages from the data highlighter menu. I'm sure websites coming up with regular webinars and promotional events will find this new tool extremely useful and powerful for pulling qualified traffic from search pages.

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