Google Updates Structured Data Guidelines For Articles

As a result of three updates to the Article structured data documentation, Top Storie is now more readily eligible. Top Storie’s eligibility was upgraded as a result of Google’s removal of the AMP requirement and revisions to the image standards in the Article’s structured data rules.

As a result of three adjustments to the standards, more publishers are now able to participate in the top stories section, which can dominate the first page of search results.

Why Are Top Stories Important?

Google uses “top stories” to highlight recently published news articles in its search results. When users conduct a search for a topic that is currently trending in the news, the top stories section will appear at the very top of the search results, sometimes taking up the majority of the screen real estate on both mobile and desktop devices. Screenshot of a Google Search Top Stories:

News About Data, Google
News About Data, Google

The most important stories may also appear in the page’s central section, farther below. Because of this, it is vital for breaking news sites to have their content featured prominently.

Articles Don’t Need Structured Data for Top Stories

It’s worth noting that Google updated the Article structured data standards to include a disclaimer that structured data isn’t required to be included in featured stories.

This new paragraph reads as follows:

Adding Article structured data to your news, blog, and sports article pages can help Google understand more about the web page and show better title text, images, and date information for the article in search results on Google Search 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, who the author is, or what the title of the article is).”

Whether or not the absence of structured data as a condition for eligibility has always been the case, the fact remains that Google’s official standards are less stringent and more welcoming of a wider range of websites than previously thought. Therefore, news outlets that don’t provide article-structured data can nevertheless compete for featured placement.

This is also true for comparable improved listings on other sites. It’s not surprising, then, that Google’s Top Stories documentation no longer requires structured data to qualify for an improved listing in the search results.

Nonetheless, it is still recommended that publishers employ structured data, such as the Article Schema.org structured data, to help Google better comprehend the content of their websites. If a publisher uses the Article structured data, they may easily tell search engines to prioritize three photos with varying aspect ratios.

Google Removes All Mention Of AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a framework for creating mobile-optimized HTML pages with lightning-fast page loads. At one time, only stories written with AMP would be considered for the featured stories section. Google has updated its structured data standards for the Article to remove references to AMP now that this is no longer the case.

For the inclusion of both AMP and non-AMP content, Google didn’t merely alter the guidelines. Google eliminated all AMP-related recommendations and recommendations from structured data guidelines. The Article’s structured data requirements are no longer a useful resource for AMP publishers. In 2020, Google announced the upcoming shift in a blog post:

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

Top Stories Image Guidelines Have Changed

It has also been simpler to have one’s work featured in prominent news stories, which may be the most significant adjustment. The size of the images has been adjusted. Google has reduced the minimum image size, which may be helpful for publishers who wish to utilize smaller images in pursuit of higher page speed ratings.

Formerly, high-resolution photographs with a combined width and height of at least 800,000 pixels were necessary to meet Google’s structured data criteria for images. Here are the pre- and post-modification guidelines, respectively.

Before:

Optimal results can be achieved by submitting multiple high-resolution photos (minimum 800,000 pixels when multiplying width and height) in the following aspect ratios: 16:9, 4:3, and 1:1.

After:

Optimal results can be achieved by submitting many high-resolution photos (at least 50K when multiplying width and height) in 16:9, 4:3, and 1:1 aspect ratios.

Guidelines for Top Stories

Upon first glance, these alterations could appear to be unimportant. They are, however, important. It’s odd that there is no longer any sort of manual for AMP-using publishers. Seemingly, Google is pulling back on AMP. This new version of Google’s image rules for top stories is a positive development for both consumers and publishers, as it encourages the use of reduced picture sizes.