SEO

Google Search now supports discussion forum and profile page structured data

Google Search supports discussion forum and profile page structured data. This functionality allows Google to show “first-person perspectives from social media platforms, forums, and other communities” within the search results.

In addition, Google added new Search Console reports to support those who added structured data to their pages, the company announced.

Profile page structured data. The new profile page structured data and markup is for any site where creators, either people or organizations, share first-hand perspectives. This markup will help Google highlight the creator’s name or social handle, profile photo, follower count, or the popularity of their content in the Google search results.

This information is also available in the Perspectives and Discussions and Forums search result features.

Here is what it may look like:

Perspectives 384x600

Discussion forum structured data. The new discussion forum structured data and markup is for any forum-style site where people collectively share first-hand perspectives. “When forum sites add this markup, Google Search can better identify online discussions across the web and make use of this markup in features such as Discussions and Forums and Perspectives,” Google explained.

Here is what it looks like:

Discussions And Forums Rich Result 565x600

Changes to Q&A markup. Google also updated its Q&A markup to say if you are already using Q&A markup for your question and answer user forums. The company is updating the Q&A structured data documentation to be more in line with the richness of the new discussion forum guidelines. You don’t need to use both types of structured data on the same page. You should instead use the one that’s best suited to your use case:

  • Q&A forums: If your forum is structured by a question that’s followed by answers, use Q&A markup.
  • For general forums: If your forum structure is more general and isn’t strictly question and answer content, use DiscussionForumPosting.

Search Console reports. Google added new Search Console reports, which maybe why the tool went down earlier today, to help site owners monitor discussion threads and profile page markup issues. These reports show you valid items related to your marked-up pages. The company also updated the Rich Results Test to help you test and validate your markup.

Here are screenshots of those reports:

Profile Page Report
Discussion Forum Report

Why we care. With the rise of the new personalized search features, including how Google is promoting creators more in search through perspectives and other areas, it may make sense to implement these new structured data types. Google probably won’t support these elements forever but you may get a higher click-through rate if you add these to your pages.

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About the author

Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.

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