Webmaster Tools Changes Bring Schema Into Focus

Rich SnippetsThe Changes

WMT Menu

Changes to webmaster tools now bring Schema markup features heavily into focus. The menu structure (shown on the right) now contains a new category “Search Appearance” immediately below messages, putting it above other tools in WMT.

The Search Appearance category contains the Structured Data, Data Highlighter, HTML improvements, and Sitelinks management tools. Whilst these are nothing new, this layout puts them front and center in the WMT, bringing them into focus for users who might not be familiar with Schema & snippets. This is supported by the recent update to the Data Highlighter tool, which now allows users to markup data for a wider range of Schema Categories.


Making Rich Snippets Accessible

The changes also draws attention to the “Search Appearance” category with an info icon. This displays information about Rich Snippets and provides guidance on how these are displayed, selected and what tools are available to obtain them.

WMT Help Box

Googles Commitment To Schema Markup

These changes are important for two reasons.

  1. They make Schema markup more accessible for users who aren’t comfortable making changes to code, leveling the playing field for “Mom & Pop” businesses.
  2. They demonstrate that Google is committed to increasing Schema Markup on the web.

And speculatively:

  • Easy forms of markup like the WMT highlighter tool give Google a competitive advantage over other search engines, who don’t have access to the data
  • Increased use of the Data Highlighter tool means Google can use the information as sample data for machine learning, potentially making Schema markup unnecessary in the long term
  • And for the conspiracy theorists among you, promoting Google Plus through the authorship markup

What Should You Do About It

This shows that Schema is important and the new tools make it easier than ever to implement.

Will you be implementing Schema or have you done it already and did it make a difference to your traffic? Let us know in the comments below or on Google Plus.


Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.
ORCID iD: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6886-3211

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7 thoughts on “Webmaster Tools Changes Bring Schema Into Focus”

  1. Sven Osada says:

    Thank you for this information.

  2. Good explanation of the changes in WMT, thanks for posting.

  3. Andrea Moro says:

    I don’t agree with you at all. It’s not a simple reorganization of a submenu on the GWT panel to have moved Google focus on the Schema.org and Rich Snippet.
    Google is encouraging investing time to markup code since a while. They have just took the chance to release a major update yesterday with the COPPA enforcements. That’s it.

  4. Winston says:

    The key value add for most SEO agency clients will be rich snippets of product and category pages in e-commerce stores, however I rarely see implementation of this by Google in SERPs and my own clients. Schema for things like upcoming events and recipes show up virtually 100% of the time.

  5. I agree. They’ve definitely been promoting Schema for a while now, but I think WMT is a good vessel for them to promote it to an potentially less tech savvy audience.

  6. conversiongreen says:

    Agree with both of you in a way. No doubt Google has been really keen for people to use schema.org / structured data for a while but I think it is fair to say that the likes of business owners who aren’t across Google Webmaster guidelines and suggestions could have been forgiven for thinking structured data was a bonus feature in the past and now it is at the heart of GWT.

  7. the design organizes features into groups that match “the stages of search,” as Google puts it. These are: Crawl, Google Index, Search Traffic and Search Appearance