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Best Practice for Fact Check Mark Up

Whether you’re providing YMYL (your money or your life) services, looking to establish yourself as a trustworthy source of news or make inroads with your EAT, ClaimReview may be a useful addition to your strategy


With the update to Google’s fact check developer documentation, now seems as good a time as any to cover the use and implementation of fact check markup. I’ll state now that this information needs to be considered in addition to Google’s developer guidelines on structured data in general, so this is supplemental guidance.

What is ClaimReview?

ClaimReview is a Schema property type and sub-property of ‘Thing’, ‘CreativeWork’, and ‘Review’ (meaning it can work in conjunction with these properties). It is designed to allow for the substantiation or refutation of claims made or reported in creative work (which has a broad meaning in this instance) and to do so in a way that will allow for ease of understanding by algorithms.

Google’s Eligibility Guidelines

  • Your site must have several pages marked with ClaimReview structured data.
  • You won’t get far trying to improve the authority of one page – for your ClaimReview to be eligible, your site must feature multiple pages containing the markup. For YMYL sites, this should be no problem, and you can look to verify the claims you make for any product or service.

  • You must follow all the structured data guidelines and webmaster guidelines.
  • As stated earlier, your site will not benefit from this markup in isolation and may actually be harmed if it’s perceived to be manipulative use – which Google’s guidelines state can be punished with a manual action penalty.

  • There must not be any mismatch between the structured data and page content (for example, if the structured data indicated that the claim is true, but the content on the page said the claim was false). Instead, make sure that both the content and structured data match (for example, both indicate that the claim is true).
  • This should really speak for itself, but for clarity – be consistent, and do not try to use this markup to mislead by using the wrong classifications or attempt to claim something without evidence.

  • You must meet the standards for accountability, transparency, readability, and site misrepresentation, as articulated in our Google News General Guidelines.
  • These guidelines are really the base-level expectations for any brand’s website – and if you can’t meet them, you definitely shouldn’t be trying to use this markup.

  • You must have a corrections policy or have a mechanism for users to report errors.
  • This is an interesting one – and I’m not sure whether it would require a specific corrections@ email address, or if a simple contact@ would do, but with the relative ease of adding such an email, it’s not prohibitive to set one up.

  • Websites for political entities (such as campaigns, parties, or elected officials) aren’t eligible for this feature.
  • I’m sure there are legal reasons for this, but I think I can speak for most people when I say I’m just glad it’s excluded.

  • Your readers can easily identify the claims and checks in the body of the article. Your readers are able to understand what was checked and what conclusions were reached.
  • Again, this is simply about clarity – if your aim is to build authority, then this should have been implicit, but you will need to offer users the same assurances of accuracy as you’re offering algorithms – that means making the claim clearly and providing your sources.

  • You must clearly attribute the specific claim that you’re assessing to a distinct second-party origin, whether it’s a website, public statement, social media, or other traceable source.
  • You can’t fact check a claim of your own, for example – but you can offer evidence to support a review from a blogger, for example.

  • Your fact check analysis must be traceable and transparent about sources and methods, with citations and references to primary sources.
  • Again, this is about establishing the integrity of a claim – and anyone who has ever written an essay should know the importance of primary sources.

Technical Requirements

The following points, taken directly from Google’s guidelines, provide specific technical requirements for use of the markup.

  • A single page can host multiple ClaimReview elements, each for a separate claim.
  • If different reviewers on the page check the same fact, you can include a separate ClaimReview element for each reviewer’s analysis. For more information, visit Posting multiple fact checks on a page.
  • The page hosting the ClaimReview element must have at least a brief summary of the fact check and the evaluation, if not the full text.
  • You should host a specific ClaimReview on only one page on your site. Do not repeat the same fact check on multiple pages, unless they are variations of the same page (for example, you can post the same ClaimReview on the mobile and desktop versions of a page).
  • If your website aggregates fact-check articles, ensure that all articles match the above criteria and that you provide an open and publicly available list of all fact-check websites you aggregate.

Implementation

There are a variety of ways to add schema to pages – and countless plugins for WordPress and other CRMs, but for anyone wanting to add the JSON-LD to their site manually (or just check which fields they should be adding to their markup) there is an example of all markup types on the Schema.org site.


ClaimReview markup example screenshot from Schema.org

Here we can see the JSON-LD script type initiated, then Schema.org site named as context before ClaimReview is defined as the designated @type. The majority of the markup is fairly self explanatory – the organisation reviewing the claim is described, the claim is defined and – the one bit that is a bit confusing – the judgement is made.

Effectively, this markup gives the claim a score of 1 out of 6 – or essentially false – despite the use of alternateName: “True” which you can confirm on the site by looking at the file name of the image attached to the review.

Final thoughts

The internet, you may have noticed, is a little bit wonky in terms of truth vs. untruth these days, so it’s fantastic that Schema has this option for us to offer substantiation of our claims. For brands, like all of the actions taken to improve EAT, transparency must be the watchword of your efforts. While I don’t doubt that manipulation could earn short term gains, building trust is not only a great way to influence rankings but also to build brand loyalty – and this is another way you can communicate your trustworthiness to your consumers.


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