Google updates rules for structured article data

Google updates rules for structured article data

Google has updated its guidelines for structured data in articles to reflect that it has dropped the AMP requirement and changed image guidelines for eligibility for feature stories.

The three guideline changes make it clear that eligibility for the stop stories section, which can dominate the top of search results, has become more accessible to more publishers.

Structured data is no longer required for master reports

Top News is a way for Google to feature current news content in search results.

Searches for topics that are trending in the news will generate a top news section that will appear at the top of search results in sizes that can dominate the search screen on mobile and desktop.

A screenshot of Google Search highlights

The main news can also appear lower in the middle of the page.

As a result, appearing in top stories is essential for sites that publish breaking news.

Articles Structured data is not necessary for main reports

Interestingly, Google added wording to the first paragraph of the article’s structured data guidelines to note that structured data may not appear in headlines.

This is a new paragraph:

Add structured article data to your news, blog and sports articles pages can help Google better understand a web page and display better headline text, images and article date information in search results on Google Search and other services (such as Google News and Google Assistant). While tagging isn’t required for Google News features like Highlights, you can add an article to tell Google more explicitly what your content is about (for example, that it’s a news article, who wrote it, or what the title of the article is ).

Whether it’s always been the case that structured data wasn’t required to be eligible, or whether it’s something new, this is notable because it shows that Google’s documented requirements are becoming less restrictive and more inclusive.

This means that news sources that do not add structured article data may still be eligible to appear in top stories.

This is also the case for other enhanced listings. So it’s only natural that Google’s documentation for Top Stories should also follow the trend of no longer requiring structured data to qualify.

However, it is still best practice to include structured data, including Article structured data, as this allows publishers to make it easier for Google to understand the website.

Google will delete AMP links

AMP, which stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a framework for developing HTML pages that load extremely fast on mobile devices.

At one time, the use of AMP was necessary to qualify for mainstream news coverage.

This is no longer the case, and Google has removed AMP-related information from the article’s structured data guidelines to reflect this change.

Google didn’t just change the guidelines to include AMP and non-AMP information. Google has completely removed all references to AMP from the Structured Data Guidelines.

Publishers using AMP no longer have a link from the structured data guidelines in the article.

Google posted a preview of this change in 2020 in a blog post:

“AMP will no longer be required for stories to appear in Top Stories on mobile; will be opened on any page.”

Change to Main Stories Image Guidelines

Another change, which can be considered the most important, makes it easier to achieve inclusion in the main news.

The change concerns the size of the image. Google has reduced the image size requirement, which could be helpful for publishers as they can now use smaller images and achieve faster page speed scores.

Google’s structured data guidelines for images previously required high-resolution photos with a minimum of 800,000 pixels when the width and height were multiplied.

Below are the instructions given before and after the change.


“For best results, provide multiple high-resolution images (minimum 800,000 pixels multiplied by width and height) with the following aspect ratios: 16×9, 4×3, and 1×1.”


“For best results, provide multiple high-resolution images (minimum 50,000 pixels multiplied by width and height) with the following aspect ratios: 16×9, 4×3, and 1×1.”

Guidelines for the best stories

These changes may seem trivial at first glance. But they are significant.

The complete removal of any guide for publishers who use AMP is a bit odd. It’s almost as if Google is backing away from AMP.

Google’s update to its image guidelines for featured stories is a welcome change as it encourages the use of smaller image sizes, which is good for both users and publishers.


Google Structured Data Guidelines previous article archive

Current Google Guidelines for Structured Data

Featured image by Shutterstock/The Faces

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