Google officially announced that it is downgrading the visibility of two forms of rich results, the HowTo and the FAQ.
The FAQ rich results will essentially be phased out for most (but not all) websites while the HowTo will be completely removed from search results in mobile devices.
According to Google:
“…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.”
While this is an official announcement, Google had already reduced the visibility of FAQ rich results in April 2023, announced in a search console notification.
Google Rich Results
Google Rich Results are a search feature that prominently features webpage content, enhanced listings, which often providing extra traffic.
Rich results can be in the form of a carousels, with larger images such as in recipe cards, listed in a sidebar or with stars.
These two forms of rich results depend on structured data to trigger them, requiring extra work on the part of publishers to become eligible for these kinds of rich results.
HowTo rich results are a specific kind of structured data that shows images and the steps for accomplishing a task.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) rich results require publishers to create question and answer content specific for an FAQ, plus the structured data for it.
FAQ is For Government & Health Websites
The reason Google is downgrading these two rich results types is to provide users “a cleaner and more consistent search experience.”
Google announced that it will only show them for high authority websites in the health space and for government websites.
“Going forward, FAQ (from FAQPage structured data) 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.”
This news will no doubt be perceived as a blow and a setback for publishers who took the time to add FAQ content and the concomitant structured data.
Should You Remove FAQ & HowTo Structured Data?
Google ignores structured data for the purposes of rich results. It’s possible that other search engines may use it.
So it’s not necessary to remove the structured data if it’s a hassle.
Removing it should be easy for those who use a plugin or other functionality that scales the application and removal of the structured data.
“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.”
Reduced Visibility for HowTo Rich Results
It’s still useful to keep HowTo structured data because it’s not going away entirely. It’s only going away for search results in mobile devices.
Google will still display HowTo rich results for uses on desktop devices.
The announcement explains:
“How-To (from HowTo structured data) rich results will only be shown for desktop users, and not for users on mobile devices.
Note that with mobile indexing, 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.”
Rolling Out Globally
These changes are rolling out globally within a week. A small number of rich results will still be shown as an experiment.
Read Google’s announcement:
Changes to HowTo and FAQ rich results
Featured image by Shutterstock/Luis Molinero