Google Updates Article Structured Data Guidelines

Google has updated its Article Structured Data Guidelines to indicate that they have dropped the AMP requirement and changed the image guidelines for Top Stories eligibility.

Three changes to the guidelines make it clear that eligibility for the news stories section that can dominate the top of search results has become more accessible to more publishers.

Structured data is no longer needed for Top Stories

Top stories are a way for Google to showcase new, topical content in search results.

Searches for hot topics in the news will generate the Top Stories section, which appears at the top of search results in sizes that can dominate the screen when searching on mobile and desktop.

Screenshot of top stories

The most popular items may also appear further down the middle of the page.

Therefore, getting featured in top articles is crucial for sites that publish breaking news.

Something interesting is that Google added language to the first paragraph of the article’s structured data guidelines to note that structured data is not required to appear in top articles.

Here is the new paragraph:

Adding article-structured data to your news, blog, and sports article may help Google better understand 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 Google Assistant). Although there are no markup requirements to be eligible for Google News features such as featured articles, you can add an article to more explicitly tell Google what your content is about (for example, that it is a news article, who is the author or the title of the article is).

Whether it has always been true that structured data was not required to qualify, or whether this is something new, is noteworthy as it shows that Google’s documented requirements are less restrictive and more inclusive.

This means that news sources that do not add structured data per article may still be eligible to appear in the most popular articles.

This is also the case with other enhanced lists. So it’s only natural that Google’s documentation for Top Stories also follows the trend of no longer requiring structured data to be eligible.

However, it is always recommended to include structured data, including Article Schema.org structured data, as this helps publishers 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.

Using AMP was, at one point, required to be eligible for inclusion in Top Stories.

This is no longer the case, and Google has removed the AMP-related information from the article’s Structured Data Guidelines to reflect this 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 in the article’s structured data guidelines.

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

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

Switch to Top Stories Image Guidelines

Another change, which might be considered the most significant, is making inclusion in top stories easier to achieve.

The change concerns the size of the image. Google reduced the image size requirement,

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

Here’s what the guidelines specified before and after the change.

Before:

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

Featured Article Guidelines

These changes may, at first glance, seem insignificant. But they are significant.

The complete removal of any guide for editors who use AMP is a bit curious. It’s almost as if Google is pulling out of AMP.

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


Quotes

Archive of Structured Data Guidelines from Google’s previous article

Current Google Article Structured Data Guidelines

Featured Image by Shutterstock/The Faces


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