A deep dive into the fact check structured data: Who is it right for?

If you want to position yourself as an authority in your space, learn how to use Fact Check structured data.

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Do you want the entire internet to know you have your facts right? If so, then you should take a look at the Fact Check structured data. In this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know about it. 

What is Fact Check structured data?

It’s part of Schema.org markup. Specifically, the Fact Check structured data includes three elements:

You’ll need to use all three types if you want Google to display your fact-check in search.

In this article, I’ll go over the Fact Check structured data in detail. I’ll also explain who it’s right for and how to use it.

Diving into Fact Check structured data

So what, specifically, does the Fact Check structured data do? It shows claims and reviews in search.

For example, if somebody types a question based on something overheard into the search bar, Google might show the claim and its review right there in the search engine results pages. That result might look something like this:

  • Claim: The earth is flat
  • Claimed by: The Flat Earth Society
  • Fact Check by NASA: False
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There are few things that you should notice about the fact-check above.

First, take a look at the claim. That’s the statement that’s getting fact-checked. In this case, it’s a statement that the earth is flat.

Next is the “Claimed by” section. That’s the name of the person or organization that’s making the questionable claim. In this case, it’s the Flat Earth Society.

Finally, the last line is the “answer” to the claim. It tells you if the statement is true or false (or somewhere in between).

There’s another part to that last line, though. That’s the name of the person or organization that’s evaluating the claim and rendering a verdict. In this case, it’s NASA.

It’s safe to say that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration might have some valuable info on the shape of the planet we live on, so most folks would probably assume that NASA is qualified to evaluate the claim.

By the way, that claim evaluation in the last line is called the rating. 

Who is Fact Check structured data right for?

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t think too many of the people in my target market believe the earth is flat, so I don’t need this markup.”

Not necessarily. While you may not need to fact-check details about the world, you could use Fact Check structured data for other purposes.

For example, you could use it to position yourself as an authority in your space.

Let’s say you’re running a digital marketing business. You want to convince people that you’re an expert in search engine optimization (SEO).

There’s a current claim running around SEO circles that Google uses the Better Business Bureau rating as a ranking signal. You know that’s false because Danny Sullivan just said so.

So why not create some Fact Check structured data to debunk the claim? It would look something like this:

  • Claim: Google uses BBB rating as a ranking signal.
  • Claimed by: Various SEOs
  • Fact Check by MyDigitalMarketingCompany: False

As you can see, the last line includes some branding. That will help build awareness about your business.

But beyond that, the fact-check itself will appear below a link to your web page that includes details about the claim and why you rated it the way you did. As a result, you may also get traffic to your site because of the markup.

So the answer to the question posed in the section header is: Fact Check structured data is right for you if you want to portray yourself as an authority in your space.

Beyond that, it’s also right for “hard science” websites that want to clear up confusion about any issues.

Fact Check structured data can also be used by political blogs to render verdicts about claims made by people in government.

Important guidelines

Just because you add the Fact Check structured data to your website, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your claims and reviews will show up in search. You’ll still need to follow some guidelines.

For starters, you should have several pages marked with the ClaimReview type. Apparently, Google wants to see that you’re a bona fide fact-checking individual or organization.

If you’re fact-checking a news claim, you’ll need to meet the News Publisher criteria for fact-checks. 

While you can host multiple claims on a single page, it’s probably best for SEO purposes just to go with one claim per page. Otherwise, the URL to the claim review will need to include an anchor tag to the right claim. If you don’t include the right anchor tag, it probably won’t show up in search.

Also, the page hosting the claim and review must include a summary of the fact-check as well as the rating. It can include the full text if that’s what you’d prefer.

Next, you should avoid evaluating the same claim on different pages. That confuses the search engines and could hurt your visibility in the SERPs.

Finally, if you run a website that aggregates fact-checking articles, make sure that all of the articles conform to the guidelines listed above.

Important definitions

Let’s take a look at the different types of markup you need to include on a fact-checking page.

First up is the ClaimReview element. Pay particular attention to the following properties:

  • claimReviewed – This is the text of the claim that you’re fact-checking. For example: “The earth is flat.”
  • reviewRating – The actual rating of the claim. This isn’t just a simple text string like claimReviewed. Instead, it’s a type of the Review element. I’ll cover it in more detail below.
  • url – Link to the page containing the full text of the review. The domain of the URL must be the same domain name as the page hosting the ClaimReview element.
  • author – The publisher of the article checking the claim.
  • datePublished – The publication date of the article checking the claim.
  • itemReviewed – The full details of the claim getting reviewed. For more info, see a breakdown of the Claim element below.

Please note: the first three properties mentioned above are required by Google. The final three are recommended.

Next, let’s take a look at the Rating element. That’s the type that you’ll use for reviewRating in ClaimReview. It includes the following properties:

  • ratingValue – A number from 1 to 5, with 1 being False and 5 being True.
  • alternateName – Some text describing the review. Examples include “True,” “Mostly True,” “Half True,” “Mostly False,” and “False.”

Remember, the Review element is embedded in the ClaimReview element. It doesn’t stand apart by itself.

Next, let’s look at the Claim element. Pay attention to these properties:

  • appearance – A link to the web page where the claim appears.
  • author – A Person or Organization type describing the entity that made the claim.
  • datePublished – The date that the person or organization made the claim.
  • firstAppearance – A link to the web page where the claim first appeared.

Finally, let’s go the important properties of the Rating element:

  • alternateName – Another place to put the human-readable rating. Examples include “True,” “Mostly True,” “Half True,” “Mostly False,” and “False.”
  • bestRating – The best possible rating of the claim. It must be a number greater than worstRating.
  • ratingValue – The numeric rating of the claim on a scale from 1 to 5. It must be a number between worstRating and bestRating.
  • worstRating – The worst possible rating of the claim. It must be a number less than bestRating.

Don’t forget, there is a tool and an explorer 

Now if you don’t want to add the data manually, keep in mind there is a markup tool.

That will allow you to mark up the page without coding it.

There is also an explorer. This allows you to see the fact-checked data in action, even when it is not triggered in search results.

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Wrapping it up

Do you want to convince potential customers that you’re an expert in your field? One of the ways you can do that is by fact-checking industry-specific claims.

Fortunately, you can use Schema.org markup to add fact-checks to your web pages that will appear in search, if Google thinks it should. In doing so, you’ll build brand-name awareness and boost your business.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

John E Lincoln
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility, a digital marketing agency and an Inc. 5000 company. Lincoln is consistently named one of the top marketing experts in the industry. He has been a recipient of the Search Engine Land "Search Marketer of the Year" award, named the #1 SEO consultant in the US by Clutch.co, most admired CEO and 40 under 40. Lincoln has written two books (The Forecaster Method and Digital Influencer) and made two movies (SEO: The Movie and Social Media Marketing: The Movie) on digital marketing.

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