Google's latest update on its 'How-to' structured data markup is worth taking note of if you produce lots of 'How-to' content.
Learn how to leverage Google's latest guidelines to it's 'How-to' structured data markup to avoid some common mistakes and make your page eligible to appear as a rich result in Google search.
You may be puzzled and ask what is this 'how-to' structured data? Well it is one of the many types of Google Snippets which marks-up your content and tells Google that this piece of content is a 'How-to' article.
The reason you'd want to have rich snippets set up properly is because Google has rich results on the search engine results pages (SERPs) which shows more content in unique layouts to suit each type of rich result.
In this article we are specifically looking at the 'How-to' structured data as such we will only show how the rich results for it will look like.
Below is an example of how your content may appear in a 'How-to' rich result. This is a basic text based layout and a more visual variant may be displayed if your how-to content contains an image for each step.
This next example is a how-to page with images for each step. Users are able to see a preview of the how-to with a carousel of images for each step.
You will need to follow Google's latest guideline to make your page eligible to appear in the SERPs as a rich result.
We have made a summary of what has been added to the new Google guidelines for the 'How-to' structured data below:
Marking Up the 'How-to' Structured Data Steps
Include information related to that specific step inside the markup
Make sure you use unique images which are related to each specific step
Make sure images you mark up are visible and related to the content on the page
As per the updated guidelines, only use one instance of the 'How-to' markup on a page
Things to avoid when Marking Up Steps
Do not mark up content which is not part of the how-to steps (e.g. summary or introduction section) as a step
Do not use the same image in multiple steps in the same how-to content
Do not use images which are not related to the how-to content
Do not have more than one set of 'How-to' markup per page
Below are some content guidelines from the updated Google guidelines for quick reference:
Advertising: Don't use 'How-to' structured data for advertising purposes.
Ineligible Content: How-to rich results may not be displayed if the content is obscene, profane, sexually explicit, or graphically violent; or if it promotes dangerous or illegal activities or has hateful or harassing language.
Source: All 'How-to' content must be visible to the user on the source page. The how-to should be the main focus of the source page. Don't include more than one 'How-to' for a certain page.
Materials and Tools: Add structured data to all materials and tools necessary to complete the task.
Steps: Each 'How-to' Step must include the entire contents of the source step. Don't mark up non-step data such as a summary or introduction section as a step.
Step images: If the steps are best represented visually, ensure the images in these steps are marked up for each 'How-to' Step. Only mark up the instructional step images that are specific for each step and don't use the same image in multiple steps for the same how-to. Use the same images that correspond to the content on your page. Don't use images that don't reflect the how-to content, or use different images to optimize the rich-result.
Final image: If the end result can be accurately described by an image, ensure this image is present on the page, and your 'How-to' markup includes it using the image property. This image may be the same as the one marked up for the last step.
Content: Don't use 'How-to' markup for recipes. Recipes should use the Recipe structured data instead. Articles and general advice content that is not a specific set of instructions are not appropriate for 'How-to' markup.
If you are using WordPress, you can easily setup Google Snippets with the RankMath plugin.
Currently RankMath supports multiple types of Rich Snippet Markup which includes the following:
Article - the most basic type of snippet, suitable for blog posts or articles.
Book - perfect for authors or book reviews.
Course - if you provide courses, this is perfect for marking up your course information.
Event - a very comprehensive mark-up for events, you can input and display ticket prices, event status, start and end dates and many more information.
Job Posting - perfect if you're posting job vacancies, you can include salary, employment type and you can even schedule the position to be unpublished after a set expiry date.
Music - if you're a musician and wants to promote your masterpieces, use this.
Product - use this snippet if you're selling products, you can display the price, stock availability and even a price availability.
Recipe - perhaps one of the most commonly seen rich results we see on Google, share your recipes with information on ingredients, preparation time, calories and many more types of information.
Restaurant - if you own a restaurant then use this rich snippet. With it you can display your opening and closing time, price range and even geo coordinates!
Video - perfect for video content, you can even share an embed URL with this snippet.
Person - great for sharing personal information such as contact information, job title, gender etc.
Review - If you're reviewing something, use this and you can share the rating of your review right on the SERPs.
Service - providing a service? Use the Service rich snippet and share your price, service type and rating.
Software Application - you can use this snippet if you're selling software. Display the price, operating system, software category and rating.
It is unfortunate though that RankMath does not currently support the 'How-to' rich snippet, but after communicating with them, they have confirmed that they will be adding the 'How-to' snippet in the future to RankMath.
So until that happens you will have to do it the 'hard way' if you really need to make use of this snippet.
You can download the RankMath plugin directly from their website or install it right from your WordPress Dashboard. Just go to Plugins > Add New and type in RankMath in the search bar and search for the plugin.
That's all for this simple guide on using the Google 'How-to' structured data, we hope you've found it useful. Do follow us on social media to get more information and sharing on digital marketing, seo, and web design.
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