Changes to FAQ and How-to rich results on Google

FAQ rich results have historically performed well for many of our customers. It brought more website content to the SERP and allowed the inclusion of HTML to improve the readability of the answers and embed hyperlinks. We will continue to monitor FAQ rich results to see who Google awards this rich result to and look for opportunities for our customers to qualify for it.

This announcement garnered strong reactions from the SEO community, as many mourned the loss of some of their best-performing (and content-heavy) rich results. In response to some of the tweets, John Mueller referenced “the tragedy of the commons”, and other SEOs remarked on the overuse of FAQs, in particular, as “spammy”.

Here are our key takeaways from this change:

  1. Focus on targeting a diverse range of rich results.
  2. Continue adding connected schema markup to support machine understanding.
  3. Create quality content that prioritizes a human audience.

Google’s goal is to provide searchers with the best quality results, and we’ve seen them make countless changes to the algorithm or the SERP to inch closer to that goal.

Even though this change will not have an impact on search rankings, websites that leverage FAQ and How-to rich results will likely see a decline in traffic and impressions from these rich results on the Google Search Console performance report.

As Google and Bing accelerate their AI search capabilities, they will need to overcome the challenge of AI hallucinations to achieve a reasonable level of efficacy. By adding Schema Markup to your site, you can provide search engines with reliable, structured content that they can use to train and hone the accuracy of their Large Language Models.

How-to rich results, on the other hand, will exclusively appear on desktop and no longer be visible to mobile users. That said, with Google’s mobile-first indexing, websites should still include HowTo markup on both their mobile and desktop site to achieve the How-to rich result on desktop.

Whenever Google makes a change like this, we’ve been able to detect the drop in performance and test solutions to help our customers overcome them. For example, FAQs not being granted unless questions matched keywords exactly or videos needing to be the main content of the page to achieve a Video rich result. Our approach to this announcement is no different.

At this time, we are seeing varied results after August 8th. We have seen drops in FAQ performance in some of our clients.  However, we are also seeing increases in FAQ impressions and clicks within the Healthcare Industry.

Schema App Perspective on this Change

If you have more questions, please reach out to your assigned customer success manager or [email protected].

We will be sharing more insights on the situation as Google rolls out the changes to FAQ and How-To rich results in the next week. Our team is also actively testing various alternative solutions to ensure our customers continue to see great results from implementing Schema Markup.

But Mueller also recommended SEOs “really focus on structured data to make your pages eligible for a specific treatment in search. Additional structured data can be useful to understand the content better, but [he] wouldn’t assume there’s a visible effect / ranking change.”

FAQ rich results will only be available for “well-known, authoritative government and health websites”. Other sites won’t receive FAQ rich results “regularly” (which is not the same as saying “ever”). We have yet to see what Google considers an authoritative site or health site, but this is one of the many questions we endeavour to answer in the coming weeks.

Martha is the CEO and co-founder of Schema App. Schema App is an end-to-end Schema Markup solution that helps enterprise SEO teams create, deploy and manage Schema Markup to stand out in search. She is an active member of the search engine optimization community, and the work that she does through Schema App is helping brands from all over the world improve their organic search performance.


What Schema Performance Analytics is Showing

Independent of abuse / over-use, things can change on the web / with users / with focus shifts, and it’s important to clean up from time to time. (And it’s a good reminder to read up about the tragedy of the commons :-)).

At Schema App, we’ve seen lots of fluctuations from various rich results over time. As such, we always recommend diversifying the rich results in your portfolio.

These three recommendations are already considered best practices here at Schema App and what we already work on with our customers.

Focus on targeting a diverse range of rich results