Google Updates Article Structured Data Guidelines

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Google updated its article structured data guidelines to reflect that they removed the AMP requirement and changed the image guidelines for Top Stories eligibility.

Three guideline changes make it clear that eligibility for the stop stories section that can dominate the top of search results just became more accessible to more publishers.

Structured data is no longer required for core stories

Top stories are a way for Google to feature fresh news content in search results.

Searches on topics that are trending in the news will generate the top news section, which appears at the top of search results in sizes that can dominate the screen in desktop and mobile searches.

Screenshot of top stories on Google Search

Top stories can also be displayed further down the middle of the page.

Consequently, appearing in top stories is crucial for sites that publish breaking news.

Articles Structured data is not required for main stories

Interestingly, Google added text to the first paragraph of the article’s structured data guidelines to note that structured data isn’t required to appear in top stories.

This is the new paragraph:

Adding article structured data to your news, blog, and sports article The pages can help Google better understand the web page and better display the article’s title text, images, and date information in Google Search search results and other properties (for example, Google News and the Google Assistant). While there’s no markup requirement to be eligible for Google News features like top stories, you can add an article to more explicitly tell Google what your content is about (for example, that it’s a news article). news, who is the author or what the title of the article is).”

Whether it’s always been the case that structured data wasn’t required to be eligible, or whether this is something new, it’s notable because it shows that Google’s documented requirements are less restrictive and more inclusive.

That means news sources that don’t aggregate structured article data may still be eligible to appear in top news.

This is the case with other enhanced listings as well. So it’s only natural that Google’s documentation for Top Stories also follows the trend of not requiring more structured data to qualify.

However, it is still a best practice to include structured data, including Article Schema.org structured data, because it allows publishers to make it easier for Google to understand web pages.

Google removes references to AMP

AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a framework for developing HTML pages that load extremely fast on mobile devices.

AMP usage was, at one point, required to qualify for inclusion in the top stories.

That’s no longer the case, and Google has removed AMP-related information from the article’s structured data guidelines to reflect that change.

Google didn’t just change the guidelines to include AMP and non-AMP information. Google has completely removed all references to AMP from the structured data guidelines.

Publishers using AMP no longer have a reference to the Article Structured Data Guidelines.

Google published advance notice of this change in 2020 in a blog post:

“AMP will no longer be required for stories to appear in Top Stories on mobile devices; it will be open on any page.”

Switch to main story image guidelines

Another change, which could be considered the most important, makes inclusion in the main stories easier to achieve.

The change is to the size of the image. Google lowered the image size requirement, which could be helpful for publishers as they can now use smaller images and achieve faster page speed scores.

Google’s structured data guidelines for images previously required high-resolution photos with a minimum of 800,000 pixels when width and height were multiplied.

The following is what the guidelines specify before and after the change.

Before:

“For best results, provide multiple high-resolution images (minimum 800,000 pixels when width times height) with the following aspect ratios: 16×9, 4×3, and 1×1.”

After:

“For best results, provide multiple high-resolution images (minimum 50,000 pixels when width times height) with the following aspect ratios: 16×9, 4×3, and 1×1.”

Main Story Guidelines

These changes may, on the surface, seem trivial. But they are significant.

The complete removal of any guidance for publishers using AMP is a bit curious. It’s almost as if Google is moving away from AMP.

Google’s update to image guidelines for top stories is a welcome change because it encourages the use of smaller image sizes, which is good for users and publishers.


Quotes

Archive of Google’s Structured Data Guidelines above article

Google Current Articles Structured Data Guidelines

Featured image from Shutterstock/The Faces


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