We’ve seen a few messages in Search Console this morning, all about errors in structured data. All the messages seem to be the same generic one but the issues are quite varied. Here’s what the message looks like:
Generally these seem to be picking up on any parsing errors with schema.org markup, not necessarily “spammy” implementations. For example we’ve seen one incorrectly nested itemprop causing a parsing error which still gets the “manual spam action” despite the fact it is just an everyday and entirely innocent error caused by a slight template change.
Google’s wording seems quite aggressive to me – although the only “penalty” being applied is a removal of rich snippets the words “manual spam penalty” are generally enough to send most people into a panic. The only penalty actually being applied is “rich snippets won’t show for your site.” Now if the only reason you’re implementing semantic markup and structured data is in the hope of some rich snippets showing up in the SERPs then you’re already barking up the wrong tree – semantic markup offers a lot of inherent search benefits aside from some stars or images showing up in results. Even if Google continues to claim that they aren’t a direct “ranking signal!”
What To Do With Your Structured Data
If you have a message like this on your Search Console account the first thing to do is check all your site templates through the structured data testing tool to find out where any parsing errors are.
If everything checks out as green then you’ll need to look and think deeper – is all the markup you have actually the right sort? One of the cheekiest genuine spam cases I’ve seen in the past was a site putting review markup across pretty much every single page (including About Us and Contact) in an effort to get lots of stars in the SERPs in the hope of raising their organic CTR. Make sure that what you mark up is actually relevant and present on your site – stop just slinging itemprops in everywhere in the hope of getting something out of it.
If you’ve got a warning and aren’t sure how to proceed, or are stuck on figuring out why you got it in the first place, give 4Ps a shout because I’m always game for debugging some semantics and helping people understand the purpose behind them that goes beyond “I’d like some stars in the SERPs please!”
4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how technical SEO and search algorithms are evolving together in order to keep pace with new developments in user demands and behaviour, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and technology across all inbound channels.