Good news for bloggers and content creators who like sharing process guides (like me!) – Google has announced the official launch of the HowTo and FAQ schema markups. Now, content that share step-by-step processes and frequently asked questions can be declared using structured data so Google and other search engines can easily identify them.
Announced last year by Google, these markup types took a while to officially roll out but it looks like they’ll make a significant impact to both SEOs and regular searchers alike. For one, rich snippets and instant answers will feature an image and detailed steps when how-to queries are entered on Google:
For your content to qualify for the enhanced rich snippets for how-to queries, it has to follow these guidelines:
- Don’t use the how-to guide as a form of advertisement
- Don’t hope for a rich snippet if the guide is a how-to on something sexually explicit, obscene, scandalous, violent, offensive, dangerous, etc.
- All the information on completing the how-to process need to be on the webpage. Misleading doorway pages will likely not prosper.
- An image depicting the finished product or ending of the how-to will strongly increase your chances of landing a featured snippet.
- Mentions of materials and tools also need to be marked up.
- Steps have to be clearly stated and marked up accordingly. If it’s appropriate to post an image for each step, Google encourages doing so and marking that up as well.
Google has a guide here that you can reference for implementation. You may need to know a little HTML to get this done. If not, just have your developer do it for you.
Keep in mind that Google has always stated that Schema markups are not among its ranking factors. However, webmasters have often reported that they’ve seen some improvements in rankings after introducing structured data. Bottom line: test this out and see what happens. Even if you don’t land the featured snippet slot, you may still get some rich data on your search listings that can enhance your click-through rates.