Google updated the structured data guidance to better emphasize that all three structured data formats are acceptable to Google and also explain why JSON-LD is is recommended.
The updated Search Central page that was updated is the Supported Formats section of the Introduction to structured data markup in Google Search webpage.
The most important changes were to add a new section title (Supported Formats), and to expand that section with an explanation of supported structured data formats.
Three Structured Data Formats
Google supports three structured data formats.
But only one of the above formats, JSON-LD, is recommended.
According to the documentation, the other two formats (Microdata and RDFa) are still fine to use. The update to the documentation explains why JSON-LD is recommended.
Google also made a minor change to a title of a preceding section to reflect that the section addresses structured data vocabulary
The original section title, Structured data format, is now Structured data vocabulary and format.
Google added a section title the section that offers guidance on Google’s preferred structured data format.
This is also the section with the most additional text added to it.
New Supported Formats Section Title
The updated content explains why Google prefers the JSON-LD structured data format, while confirming that the other two formats are acceptable.
Previously this section contained just two sentences:
“Google Search supports structured data in the following formats, unless documented otherwise:
Google recommends using JSON-LD for structured data whenever possible.”
The updated section now has the following content:
“Google Search supports structured data in the following formats, unless documented otherwise.
In general, we recommend using a format that’s easiest for you to implement and maintain (in most cases, that’s JSON-LD); all 3 formats are equally fine for Google, as long as the markup is valid and properly implemented per the feature’s documentation.
In general, Google recommends using JSON-LD for structured data if your site’s setup allows it, as it’s the easiest solution for website owners to implement and maintain at scale (in other words, less prone to user errors).”
Structured Data Formats
JSON-LD is arguably the easiest structured data format to implement, the easiest to scale, and the most straightforward to edit.
Most, if not all, WordPress SEO and structured data plugins output JSON-LD structured data.
Nevertheless, it’s a useful update to Google’s structured data guidance in order to make it clear that all three formats are still supported.
Google’s documentation on the change can be read here.
Featured image by Shutterstock/Olena Zaskochenko