It’s that time of the year again! Google has pulled it’s thick, red marker from its drawer and has started striking through the hopes and dreams of SEOs. Now that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but they did just all but remove FAQ & HowTo structured data from the SERPs, rendering thousands upon thousands of SEOs painstaking work of creating custom FAQs for all of their pages completely redundant. Let’s dive a bit deeper into what exactly happened, and what you should do now!
The lead up & the inevitable climax
Over the past few months, SEOs from all over the world have been taking notice of their rich snippets disappearing. Mainly FAQs were showing less and less in SERPs in pretty much every single niche. Up until now, Google has categorically denied any malicious intent, or huge changes under the hood regarding the rich snippets, though there were some hints at what was to come… with John Mueller stating that “sites love adding FAQ markup,” because “it gives them more room in search”, but that “at some point, it makes the results less useful”.
Let’s be honest, at that point we all knew what was coming next. And indeed, the inevitable happened: on August 8th, Google published an update on changes regarding HowTo and FAQ rich search results. The axe has hit the chopping block, gone are the days of FAQ snippets and HowTo galore in the SERPs.
Why they changed it up
Google’s reasoning behind these (not so sudden) changes, is that they’re trying to give users a more ‘clean and consistent’ search experience. There is something to say for them trying to clean up the SERPs though. Especially with SGE knocking on our doors, the organic search results are going to get pushed down even further in the SERPs. Only to say, removing some clutter might actually be beneficial in the long run.
The exact changes are as follows:
- FAQ snippets will now only show for well-known, authoritative government and health websites, eliminating any and all other rich snippets of the kind, that don’t fit the bill.
- HowTo snippets aren’t disappearing entirely (yet), but will from now on only show up on desktop search results, and not on mobile devices.
What SEOs should do now, and a small win
Now I can hear you thinking about the ramifications of all of this… the good news? There are none! Apart from, obviously, your rich snippets evaporating over the coming days. Google is not going to penalise websites for still containing loads of structured data… it just won’t use any of it anymore.
Now I mentioned it before already, but let’s look at a small win for SEO: we’re getting more space at the top of the page back for actual organic search results! So really, what should you do now? Focus on creating high-value, sexy content for your website! (and yes, you should’ve been doing that already…)
Niels Krikke is the Corporate Marketing Manager for Seeders Group, managing all marketing and communication efforts for all Seeders offices across the globe. Niels’s specializations include branding, copywriting & SEO.