Google’s new Data Highlighter for Local Businesses is definitely worth checking out for anyone trying to goose their local rankings. I have found it to be a bit buggy and it’s a new tool, so proceed with caution. Here are some basics on how to use it along with some tricks I have figured out thus far.
- Start Highlighting
Go to the Optimization section of GWT and click on “Data Highlighter”.
Don’t watch the video, just proceed to the blue “Start Highlighting” button.
- Add Your URL & the Select “Local Business” Information Type
- Select “Tag Just This Page” or “Tag This Page and Others Like It”
If you have similar data types (e.g. Name, Address & Phone Number) across multiple pages, you may want to try the “Tag this page and others like it” option. This will allow you to tag URLs in batches selected by Google.
- Tag The First Page
The tool will show a framed “Bot-view” version of the page you have selected as your first page. The top shows where you are at in each step of the process and the right side bar shows you the data you have tagged. When you highlight the data on the page, you get a drop down that allows you to select what type of data it is, Current Local Business data types include name, address, phone number, opening hours, category, department, image, URL, average rating and review:
- How To Add Missing Tags
If you can’t find the right words on the page to highlight such as a particular category keyword, then click on the Gear icon in the top right of the UI and you’ll see an option for adding a missing tag (as well as for clearing all tags you have set) (hat tip to Darren Shaw for spotting this one – I found the category tagging to be quite buggy btw)
- Create a Page Set
If you have only selected one page, you can hit publish and you are good to go. But if you are tagging multiple pages, you are then offered the option to create a “Page Set” or to choose the set of pages that the tool chooses for you as the set. As you can see from the screenshot, the tool uses wild cards to select entire directories to apply the tags to:
If you select “Create your own page set” you can add custom URLs to tag. Once you have selected the URLs, the tool then gives you the chance to verify the tags for a sample of URLs before you publish. As you’ll see in a sec, it is important that you check these tags thoroughly.Once you’ve checked them, hit publish and wait for the local SEO magic to begin. Now for a few insights:
- Use The Bot View of Tool for a Quick Keyword Targeting Review
The example above is from a BMW dealer site I just started working on. When I looked for words on the page to tag, I quickly realized there were few, if any keywords that they should want to rank for such as “new cars”, “used cars”, etc. If you can’t find the right text to tag, there’s a good chance you need to improve the keyword targeting of the page’s content.
- The Tag Verification Process May Show You Where Google Is Having Problems With Your Site
With the BMW dealer, I let the tool select multiple URLs for tagging the dealer’s NAP. During verification, several of the tags were flagged as possible errors. For example, on one URL the zip code showed up tagged as the phone number. When I looked at the NAP text in the code, I noticed that the text was missing a lot of spaces. It had a format like <Biz NameStreet AddressCity, STZipPhone>. This is likely making it hard for Googlebot to get the NAP right, which is one of the reasons why Google created this tool and even better, one of the reasons why this site may have problems with local rankings. So tagging the NAP correctly could be a quick win, as would just fixing the text so it’s properly spaced.If this tool really is giving a bot view of the site, in some ways, this is a more powerful tool than the Fetch as Googlebot feature. Now, not only can we see how the page looks to Googlebot, we are also told what some of the problems are.
- Danger – This Is a New Tool – Proceed With Caution
For now I am only testing the tool on sites that have nowhere to go but up. Google has a habit of rolling out new features, particularly with Local, that sound great but have unintended consequences for the early adopters. For example, I have no idea what will happen if your category tags are different from those that are in the Google+ Local Places profile for a site.I’ll update this as I figure more stuff out. If you have any insights, please add in the comments or tweet me.