On Tuesday 8th of August, Google announced some changes to two rich results, being rolled out globally this week.
Rich results are a type of enhanced result with additional visual and interactive features. These are to display extra information about a specific search query, from events and local businesses to recipes and reviews and ratings. The two that are being impacted by this week’s changes are the How-to and FAQs.
How-to displays images and step-by-step instructions when relevant to a search query.
This particular rich result will now only be available for desktop devices, no longer appearing in the SERPs on mobile devices.
Changes to FAQs
The FAQs rich result displays a specific question and answer that is relevant to the search query, with other related questions below.
Once the new changes have rolled out, the majority of websites will no longer be able to provide FAQ content. Google is aiming to “provide a cleaner and more consistent search experience”, and will only be accepting FAQ content from “well-known, authoritative government and health websites” as a result.
Other sites may still have a small opportunity to show in the FAQs, but Google has said that they “will no longer be shown regularly”. There is a possibility that other sites are automatically considered for the FAQs rich result, but this will depend on their eligibility, which currently sits very slim.
What to do now?
Although these changes may be frustrating for some who have spent lots of time crafting and uploading valuable FAQs, having unused structured data on your site does not cause any problems for Search, so you don’t need to worry about removing them. There is also the possibility that alternative search engines use this structured data, so it could be worth keeping.
As for HowTo structured data, this type of rich result will still display on desktop devices, so it’s worth keeping this in place.
This update is not considered a ranking change and won’t be listed in the Search status dashboard. Be aware that some users may not see these changes right away due to a small holdback experiment.