Does Google crawl URLs in structured data?

John Mueller from Google answered if Google would use links in structured data for crawling. Getting links discovered, crawled, and then indexed is vital for SEO, so any perk available to get more pages crawled would help.

What does Google use links in structured data for?

The questioner wants to know if Google uses links discovered in structured data for crawling.

They also want to know if Google does not use the links to crawl if they are simply stored.

Here is the question:

“Does Google crawl URLs in structured data markup or does Google just store the data?”

Google tries to crawl many types of URLs

Mueller’s answer may seem a bit surprising because, among other things, he mentions that Google might be trying to crawl a link that’s in a text file.

Another point of interest is that he says Google will crawl anything that “looks“as a link, followed by examples of what”looks like a link” means.

Muller’s response:

“So most of the time when we’re looking at HTML pages, if we see something that looks like a link, we might go away and try that URL as well.

It’s something where if we find a URL in JavaScript, we can try to retrieve it and try to use it.

If we find a link in the form of a text file on a site, we can try to crawl and use it. »

Mueller’s answer is a pretty good look at what Google could do with alternate links, links that aren’t traditional HTML hyperlinks with anchor text.

What follows is Mueller’s reminder that all of these alternate forms of links should not be considered substitutes for actual HTML hyperlinks, what Mueller calls a “normal link”.

Mueller strongly recommends using a standard HTML hyperlink if you want something that works like a link.

He continues his response:

“But it’s not really a normal bond.

So that’s something I would recommend if you want Google to crawl that URL, make sure there’s a natural HTML link to that URL, also with clear anchor text, that you’re giving information about the page destination.

If you don’t want Google to crawl that specific URL, maybe block it with robots.txt or use a rel=canonical on that page pointing to your preferred version, something like that.

So those are kind of the directions I would go there.

I wouldn’t blindly assume that just because it’s in structured data doesn’t mean it won’t be found.

I also wouldn’t blindly assume that just because it’s structured data, it will be found.

He could be found.

It may not be found.

I’d rather focus on what you want to happen there.

If you want it to be seen as a link, make it a link.

If you don’t want it crawled or indexed, block crawling or indexing.

It’s all entirely up to you.

Alternative links

SEOs have created many alternative forms of linking, some of which (such as “link mentions”) have no basis in reality and are pure conjecture and opinion.

Many years ago, SEOs started practicing something called Google Stacking, which included adding links to Google Sheets and then pointing links to that Google Sheet in the belief that the practice would help rankings.

The idea was similar to Web 2.0 link building, where some SEOs had the mistaken notion that the so-called “authority” of a Google-affiliated site would carry over to links on Google Sheets and Google Sites.

Adding this to Mueller’s answer on links in structured data, Mueller confirmed that Google could crawl links in structured data, JavaScript, and text files. But he also said that when it comes to structured data, Google might not crawl those links.

Mueller says it’s best to use real links if you want to harness the power of links.


Quote

Watch John Mueller answer the question at minute 23:20.

Featured image: YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, June 2022.

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