Google Limits Visibility of FAQ and How-To Schemas and What Should We Do?

In a recent announcement, Google said that it will reduce the visibility of FAQ rich results, and limit How-To rich results to desktop devices. It's bad news for SEO since FAQ and How-To schemas are widely used schemas to display rich results in SERPs. They usually encourage people to click to read more and increase the click-through rate (CTR).

What's changed with FAQ and How-To rich results?

From the Google announcement for the FAQ rich results

The FAQ rich results will only be shown for well-known, authoritative government and health websites. For all other sites, this rich result will no longer be shown regularly. Sites may automatically be considered for this treatment depending on their eligibility.

Google Search Central blog post
Google doesn't display FAQ rich results for most websites
Google doesn't display FAQ rich results for most websites

And for the How-To rich results:

How-To (from HowTo structured data) rich results will only be shown for desktop users, and not for users on mobile devices.

Google Search Central blog post

You can view the full announcement on the Google Search Central blog.

When will the changes take effect?

This change will take effect globally from August 15th, 2023.

How will my website be affected in terms of SEO?

The most important thing is that your website might not display FAQ and How-To rich results on SERPs. As the FAQ is the basis of the People Also Ask (PAA), that PAA box might not be visible to users as well.

Reducing or limiting the visibility of these schemas make your websites display as normal search results, thus making them no different from other websites. There will be no visual content that attracts them anymore.

Thus, it discourages people from clicking on your website. They have to read through all search results to read all the meta title & meta description to find what they need.

As a result, you might see a decrease in your organic traffic to your website.

Should I remove FAQ and How-To schemas from my website?

If you already added FAQ to your website and it's a well-known, authoritative government or health website, you should definitely keep the FAQ schema. Google still shows FAQ rich results for those websites. They're not affected by these changes.

But if it's not such a website, you don't need to remove FAQ and How-To schemas from your website. They don't cause any problems for Google or have negative effects on your search results. A FAQ to a page is still useful for users, though.

For the How-To schema, it will only be shown for desktop users, so keeping them is still needed.

Note that Google requires you to keep the How-To schema markup on the mobile version in order to show the rich results for the desktop version. That's because Google uses the mobile version of a website as the basis for indexing. So, if your mobile version doesn't have How-To schema markup, Google will think that your website doesn't have that markup at all and won't show rich results to users.

What can I do to increase organic traffic to my website?

Although your website might not have FAQ and How-To rich results on SERPs, you still can boost your organic traffic to your website.

There are many ways to increase organic traffic, but the best way is:

  • Providing helpful content to users. Content is still the most important thing that users are interested in. And a website should provide content that matches user search intent.
  • Writing an attractive SEO title & meta description to encourage them to click to view more details.
  • Use other schemas to describe your page. FAQ and How-To are not everything. There are many schemas that you can use, such as product, review, book, event, blog post, etc. Using them properly can show rich results to users and encourage them to visit your website.

For more details, read our blog post: Top 5 Most Effective Ways to Increase Organic Traffic to Your Website.

This change from Google is not the end for SEO. Instead, it's a chance for us to improve the content quality, and focus more on users and user experience on our websites. Traffic will come naturally if we do this well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *