Google today announced support for profile page and discussion forum structured data, along with new Search Console reports to enhance the visibility of first-person perspectives from various online communities.
Structured data markups are a way of providing Google Search with information about a website's content in a way that is machine-readable. This information can then be used to display the website in rich results, which are enhanced search results that provide more information about your website, such as reviews, ratings, and product information.
ProfilePage markup is designed for websites where creators, whether individuals or organizations, share their unique perspectives. This markup enables Google Search to gather information about the creator, such as their name, social media handles, profile picture, follower count, and the popularity of their content. Google's Perspectives and Discussions and Forums features make use of ProfilePage markup.
DiscussionForumPosting markup is specifically tailored for forum-style websites where users collectively share their firsthand experiences. It empowers Google Search to better identify forum sites and online discussions across the web. Forums with this markup are eligible to have their content displayed in the Perspective and Discussions and Forums features; however, inclusion is not guaranteed.
Q&A vs. Forum Markup
For websites using Q&A markup for their question-and-answer-themed user forums, Google has updated the Q&A structured data documentation to align with the new discussion forum guidelines.
Users are not required to utilize both types of structured data on the same page. Instead, Google recommends using the markup that best suits the specific use case:
- Q&A forums: If the forum is structured by a question followed by answers, use Q&A markup.
- General forums: If the forum structure is more general and doesn't strictly follow a question-and-answer format, use DiscussionForumPosting.
Monitoring Structured Data with Search Console
To assist with monitoring discussion threads and profile page markup issues, Google has introduced profile page and discussion forum rich result reports in Search Console. These reports display errors, warnings, and valid items related to the marked-up pages. Additionally, Google has integrated support for both features into the Rich Results Test, enabling users to test and validate their markup.
This expanded support for structured data will further enhance Google Search's ability to surface relevant and informative content from various online communities, providing users with a more comprehensive understanding of diverse perspectives and experiences.