SEN Forum Pick: Yikes! Somebody changed the itemtype Article markup rules
 by Ian Cook

SEN Forum Top Pick: Yikes! Somebody changed the itemtype Article markup rules


It is unsettling to say the least when you run one of your pages through a validator—a page you know very well was problem-free and tested fine just yesterday—but today it lights up the screen with 33 Warnings and Error messages!

That happened to me this morning, while validating markup on one of my pages with the Google Structured Data Testing tool1. When that happened for one page, I immediately started testing other pages that also have the item type Article (itemtype=""). Every page with that item type had tested clean yesterday (10 December) and every one today (11 December) has a long error list. Other pages from the site, marked up with Book item type, and other item types still test clean. But it looks like someone changed the rules last night for Article item type pages.

Does this matter at all? Well, thank you SEN for the alert that Google Panda is probably going to go real time this month, and that Google "Rank Brain" artificial intelligence is gaining engagement. From what we've heard about these developments, markup data are ever-more important for letting Google know how to identify quality articles, especially those that address user specific search queries. Given this, I want to be very sure that Google knows how to make this judgement about my pages. And that means marking up to the hilt. That is the reason for my panic when it suddenly looked like my existing markup data had turned into garbage.

The purposes of this post, then, are (1) to ask if anyone else sees the same problem, and (2) Suggest that anyone who has used item type Article in their pages test them again now.

I wanted to contact Google Help Center immediately with an urgent question about what's going on, asking if this is for real—but did not do so because Google doesn't seem to have a readily accessible Help Center. I pushed on with a little more testing and probing, and my conclusion now is that the apparently new "rules" for Article markup do seem to be rational, but more demanding. The apparently new requirements simply give Google even more specific information about the Article.

Article Markup under has in the past required a datePublished itemprop and a headline ite...