Google Discusses How To Use Paywall Markup Properly
Google’s John Mueller recently advised webmasters and the SEO community on how to properly use the paywall structured data markup. According to Mueller, webmasters and SEO specialists don’t necessarily need to show their paywall structured data markup to users, but they do need to make it visible to search engines and crawlers.
This discussion was brought up during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours live stream on 11 December where an SEO asked about the proper way of testing structured data markup. Mueller delved into the matter and even went beyond the scope of the query, providing the community with more guidelines on how to implement the paywall structured data markup correctly.
Webmasters and businesses usually put their content behind a paywall so that they can earn residual income from their work. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to use it correctly and make sure that it meets the standards of Googlebot. Doing so will prevent them from getting penalised and avoid giving their users a bad experience.
First, Mueller addressed the question. According to him, the webmaster or the site owner needs to use Google’s Rich Results Test to know if their paywall structured data markup is valid. This step is commonly done by most SEO specialists. However, there is no rich result type for paywalled content, and they have not appeared as featured snippets until recently. It arouses curiosity for the SEO community because the said tool validates markup that Google utilises to provide searchers with rich results.
In other words, many people are wondering if the Rich Results Test really is the best tool to use for paywall structured data markup. But since paywalled content can be shown in featured snippets – as long as they are implemented correctly – webmasters and businesses can use this SEO tool to validate their paywall markup.
Validating structured data markup is crucial as this will be the basis of the difference between Google recognising paywalled content and misunderstanding that the content is cloaked. In the case of premium content, these articles cannot be accessed by non-paid users. They are, however, visible to Googlebot, so they fall under the category of cloaking if the website owner does not use paywall markup, which is something that should be avoided.
Mueller added that paywall markup does not necessarily have to be visible to visitors. Usually, Google requires rich result markup to be visible to both Googlebot and users, or else it will be considered as cloaking.
He also said that Google needs to be able to see the full content so that they can have a better context of what the search engine will show its searchers, as well as to represent the website in the best way possible. This is especially true if the SEOs are providing Googlebot with their content but not showing other users in some cases.
Aside from Mueller’s advice, webmasters can also make the most of their URL inspection tools so that they can ensure that Googlebot crawls their paywalled content.
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