Google’s Update: Implications for FAQ and How-To

Search engine optimization (SEO) greatly depends on structured data and semantic markup. By employing specific HTML tags and schema.org options, websites can convey information to search engines more effectively. These tools help Google and its counterparts to showcase rich results, offering users immediate answers and added context without requiring a link click.

Google recently unveiled changes concerning two favourite rich result categories: FAQPage and HowTo. Let’s dive deeper into these alterations and their potential effects on website proprietors.

Understanding Structured Data, Semantic Markup, and Schema.org 

FAQ Schema Structured data is a uniform format that assists machines, such as search engine bots, comprehend a webpage’s content. Semantic markup, a branch of structured data, involves labelling elements with specific terms comprehensible to humans and machines. With guidance from schema.org, this enables the exhibition of rich search results.

Although Google and other engines accept structured data, they have distinct methods to decode and verify content authenticity. However, they typically depend on Schema.org markup, prompting site owners to employ all necessary schemas to boost their ranking.

How Google is treating FAQ and HowTo content

Google recently communicated that it intends to decrease the visibility of FAQPage and restrict the HowTo rich results on desktop.

FAQ‘s

Frequently employed by websites to attain rich results on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), FAQs have been a popular tool for many. Platforms like WordPress have designed modules to produce the FAQ schema type automatically.

However, Google has halted displaying rich results from the FAQ schema. Their official statement clarified:

“In the future, FAQ (from FAQPage structured data) rich results will only be shown for well-known, authoritative government and health websites. This rich result will no longer be shown regularly for all other sites. Sites may automatically be considered for this treatment depending on their eligibility.”

Despite these changes, retaining the FAQ schema on your site is recommended. Yet, unless your portal is a renowned governmental or health entity, your FAQs won’t be prominently in Google’s results. 

Remember, while Google has made this decision, other search engines like Bing or Yandex might continue to utilize this schema.

HowTo‘s

Though less prevalent than FAQ, the HowTo schema must still be widely adopted. Google has now clarified that HowTo rich results won’t appear on mobiles. However, if the HowTo schema is absent on your mobile site, Google won’t identify it, causing it to be missing on desktops.

What Might Have Prompted This Decision? 

The emergence of ChatGPT and other advanced language models has simplified the creation of FAQs and HowTos. A simple prompt to ChatGPT can yield results. However, failing to authenticate ChatGPT’s content can be problematic, sometimes producing inaccurate content.

Google may have observed an upsurge in FAQs and HowTos, some potentially flawed due to ChatGPT’s influence. But it’s essential to note that the reasons behind Google’s decisions often remain speculative.

Guidance for Site Owners

  • FAQ Schema: If you’ve employed the FAQ Schema, there’s no cause for alarm. Other search engines might still display your FAQs. Recognized governmental or health websites should consider using FAQPage Schema to spotlight their content in Google’s search results.
  • HowTo Schema: When using the HowTo schema, even if Google showcases it on desktops, it should be part of your mobile site to ensure Google identifies and displays it on desktops.

Using structured data has multiple benefits beyond Google’s acknowledgment. It also supports other systems, including assistive software. Hence, always consider integrating schema.org.

Need help fixing your site?

If you need assistance implementing schema.org structured data, our team is eager to assist! We’ve aided numerous clients in enhancing their rankings and featuring in search engine snippets and rich results through WordPress. Reach out to us for guidance or support!

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