Google has announced an update to the Rich Results Test tool that now allows you to validate structured data markup for paywalled content.
This new capability aims to help publishers properly mark subscription-based content on their sites.
The change comes as Google continues to refine how it handles indexing and displaying paywalled content in search results.
While Google wants to point users to relevant paywalled articles, it must also deter practices like “cloaking,” where sites show users different content than Google.
Structured data markup is one method publishers can use to clarify what content requires a paid subscription. This involves adding schema.org markup to indicate which sections of a page sit behind a paywall.
Adding Paywall Structured Data Markup
Per Google’s help documentation, publishers should add JSON-LD or microdata to tag each paywalled block with markup like:
<div class="paywall">This content requires a subscription.< /div>
The markup then specifies that div as being non-free access:
With the update, the Google Rich Results Test tool can validate whether you’ve correctly implemented these paywall markup schemes.
Paywall Structured Data Specifics
The new validation support applies specifically to the “isAccessibleForFree” and “cssSelector” properties Google recommends using.
The markup can be used for articles, blog posts, courses, reviews, messages, and other CreativeWork content types.
For pages with multiple paywalled sections, publishers can specify multiple cssSelector values in an array.
Google’s documentation provides examples for both single and multi-paywall implementations.
The news comes after growing publisher concerns around Google products like Search and the AI chatbot Bard surfacing paywalled content without compensation.
Adding proper markup is one step publishers can take to clarify what is locked behind a paywall.
Google cautions that just adding structured data doesn’t guarantee that paywalled content will appear in search results or AI-generated overviews. Other factors like site crawlability and indexation can affect whether Google displays pages.
Marking up paywalls won’t solve every issue around Google using paid content. However, improving structured data does provide more clarity, which benefits publishers and Google alike.
Google offers troubleshooting tips for publishers struggling to implement the markup in its official help document.
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