Google’s John Mueller answered a question about FAQ structured data that significantly expanded the kinds of content that FAQ structured data can be applied to, which now includes content that isn’t even in the FAQ format.
FAQ Structured Data
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is a type of content format that consists of answers with questions. It’s meant to be a resource for site visitors who have questions.
FAQ content can be in the format of an entire page of questions and answers or a short section of a page that consists of a question and answer format.
Publishers typically add an FAQ section to a web page.
A benefit of using the FAQ format is that it can result in doubling or even tripling the amount of space that is occupied by your search result listing.
That not only makes a search presence more visible but it also knocks a competitor or two off the first page of the search results.
Lastly, the FAQ structured data can be used in web forum content, which can result in receiving an enhanced listing in Google.
John Mueller Explaining How to Use of FAQ Structured Data
Up until Mueller answered this question, those two content scenarios were the only kind where FAQ structured data was known to be applicable:
- FAQ Content Format
- Web Forums
The question asked want to know if it’s okay to use the FAQ structured data outside of the traditional FAQ content format, where a section of a page is labeled FAQ and a series of questions and answers are listed.
It’s a good question because the use of this kind of structured data outside of FAQ and forum settings is not addressed at all in Google’s FAQ structured data guidelines.
Google’s guidelines specifically recommends this structured data for FAQ Pages:
“A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page contains a list of questions and answers pertaining to a particular topic. Properly marked up FAQ pages may be eligible to have a rich result on Search”
Is it Okay to Use FAQ Structured Data Outside of FAQ Content Format?
This is the question that was asked:
“Is it okay to use the FAQ schema to mark up questions and answers that appear in different sections of a blog post that aren’t formatted as a traditional FAQ list?
For example, a post maybe has ten headings for different sections. A few of those are questions with answers.”
Google’s John Mueller answered:
“So I double-checked the official documentation, that’s where I recommend you go for these kinds of questions as well, and it looks like it’s fine.
The important part when it comes to FAQ snippets and structured data in general is that the content should be visible on the page.
So it should really be the case that both the question and the answer is visible when someone visits that page, not that it’s kind of hidden away in a section of a page.
But if the questions and the answers are visible on the page, even if they’re in different places on the page, that’s perfectly fine.”
Structured Data Does Not Guarantee Enhanced Listings
At this point John Mueller could have dropped the mic and moved on to the next question because his answer dramatically expands the contexts of where the FAQ structured data can be applied.
However he continued his answer to provide more information about structured data in general.
“The other thing to keep in mind is that like all structured data, FAQ snippets are not guaranteed to be shown in the search results.
Essentially you make your pages eligible to have these FAQ snippets shown.
But it doesn’t guarantee that they will be shown.
So, you can use the testing tool to make sure that everything is implemented properly.
And if the testing tool says that’s okay, then probably you’re on the right track.
But you will probably still have to kind of wait and see how Google actually interprets your pages and processes them to see what is actually shown in the search results.
And for structured data, I think it’s the case for FAQ, but at least for some of the other types, there are specific reports in Search Console as well that give you information on the structured data that was found and the structured data that was actually shown in the search results so that you can kind of roughly gauge, is it working the way that you want it to or is it not working the way that you want it to.
And for things like this, I would recommend trying them out and making a test page on your website, kind of seeing how things end up in the search results, double checking if it’s really what you want to do, and then going off to actually implement it across the rest of your website.”
Structured Data Quality Guidelines
Something Mueller didn’t mention but bares mentioning is that there are quality guidelines for structured data.
There are many rules to know in order to avoid receiving a manual action penalty.
One in particular is the rule against using content that is not on the web page.
Publishers who abuse structured data by inserting content that is not visible to users can be subject to a manual action.
So whatever is put in the FAQ structured data should exactly match what is on the web page itself.
Google’s Structured Data quality guidelines cautions:
“Violating a quality guideline can …possibly cause it to be marked as spam.
Don’t mark up content that is not visible to readers of the page. For example, if the JSON-LD markup describes a performer, the HTML body must describe that same performer.”
Read Google’s FAQ Structured Data Documentation
Mark up your FAQs with structured data
Read Google’s Structured Data Guidelines
General structured data guidelines
Watch the Google Office-hours Hangout
Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 05:18 minute mark: