Google makes changes to HowTo and FAQ Rich Results
In August, Google officially announced that it is decreasing the visibility of the HowTo and FAQ Rich Results.
Google states “To provide a cleaner and more consistent search experience, we’re changing how some rich result types are shown in Google’s search results. In particular, we’re reducing the visibility of FAQ rich results, and limiting How-To rich results to desktop devices. This change should finish rolling out globally within the next week.”
Despite this being the official announcement of the changes, Google sent notifications about the decrease in visibility of FAQ Rich Results in April 2023 via Google Search Console.
What are rich results
Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) have changed significantly over the past two decades. A key change made in recent years was the introduction of Rich Results. Rich Results are different, much more advanced methods of delivering results to users compared to the standard blue link.
There are different types of Rich Results, ranging from featured snippets (a short passage from a source that answers the users query) to recipes. As information is being presented in the SERPs, there is potential for users to find the information on the SERP and not click through to the source. Those websites that achieve a Rich Result trigger earn more real estate at the top of the SERP, leading to more visibility. Due to this, many websites owners have made a specific effort in their SEO strategies to earn Rich Result triggers to earn more visibility compared to their competitors.
There are 32 different Rich Results types that can appear in SERPs. There are no guaranteed ways to trigger Rich Result. The use of schema markup language can help search engines understand the content on a webpage better, which in turn can encourage Rich Results to be triggered.
HowTo Rich Results can be triggered for user search queries around how to complete a task. This can include images and steps on how to complete the specific task. Websites can earn a FAQ Rich Result by creating a question and answer content on their website that users are searching for.
How FAQ Rich Results have changed
FAQ Rich Results could be triggered by any website that answers the user query the best. Many websites have a FAQ section on different pages to target questions users may have about their services/products. By answering these questions, there is a high chance that they will be pulled into SERPs.
Google is now changing the FAQ Rich Result to only be triggered for “well-known, authoritative government and health websites”. This is in order to deliver a “cleaner and more consistent search experience” as only websites that are seen as authoritative are able to earn this feature.
How HowTo Rich Results have changed
HowTo Rich Results has not been affected in the same way. Google has changed this so that this Rich Result will only be shown for desktop users, and not for mobile users. Mobile first indexing has been in place for a few years, and Google highlights “Google indexes the mobile version of a website as the basis for indexing: to have How-To rich results shown on desktop, the mobile version of your website must include the appropriate markup.”
Should you remove Schema Markup Language?
Schema being implemented does not guarantee a Rich Result, however it can indirectly lead to one as it is used to better understand the webpage. By doing everything you can to ensure search engines better understand the content on your page, by using headings, tags, Schema and other tools; the better chance for your content to rank for relevant terms. Due to this, there is no need to remove Schema that is implemented due to these changes.
Google states “While you can drop this structured data from your site, there’s no need to proactively remove it. Structured data that’s not being used does not cause problems for Search, but also has no visible effects in Google Search.”.
How does this affect SEO?
The changes to FAQ Rich Results can be seen as a negative for those SEO experts who have dedicated time to add FAQ content and implemented Schema. However, the main focus of any content being created from an SEO point of view should always be to be as helpful as possible for users. This means to answer the queries by users the best you can.
In turn, the time taken to create FAQ content should not be seen as a loss. As long as they are relevant questions for users and are answered well, it is valuable content from a user perspective. This is key to earning high rankings and increased visibility.
- FAQ Rich Results are being decreased, mainly used for government and health websites.
- HowTo Rich Results are only displayed for desktop SERPs.
- There is no immediate need to remove any schema already implemented.
- The FAQ change will impact SEO efforts to earn Rich Results, but FAQ content is still valuable.
If you need help or just have queries around the FAQ and HowTo Rich Result changes, or SEO in general – please reach out to the Digital Carrera team!