Guide on Applying How-To Schema on your Blog Posts

In the age that we are living in, most of the daily problems we encounter are not solved by asking an expert or contacting a friend. What do we do? We Google it.

Your computer showed an unknown error? Need to change your WiFi password? Want to know the best way to take care of your new succulents?

You go to Google, you start with ‘How to’ and you fill in the blanks. That’s right. If you have a problem, you ask Google How-To.

What Are How-To Articles?

How-To articles are step-by-step guides that help readers solve a problem or a task. How-To articles are applicable whether it’s for everyday problems or for technical problems in a specific topic or niche.

How-To articles are one of the best forms of evergreen content. Once you find the right topics to write about, it is sure to bring you consistent traffic long-term. And the thing about How-To articles is that you can basically write about anything and you can be sure that there are at least a handful of people searching for it.

But the work doesn’t end there. Once you are able to get on the first page of Google, you could further improve your article by making it eligible for Google’s Rich Results using the How-To Schema.

Google’s Guidelines on How-To Schema

Rich Results are special types of search results that look far different and more interactive from the traditional blue links. If your content appears in Rich Results, you can expect a higher click-through rate

To be eligible for Google’s Rich Results, you need to have the right structured data on your page and in this case, we need the How-To schema. Adding How-To schema to your articles simply tells Google that your article is a How-To article. However, before you start deploying How-To schema on all of your articles, make sure that you are following Google’s guidelines on How-To Schema first.

  • Advertising: Don’t use HowTo 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 HowTo 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 HowTo for a certain page.
  • Materials and Tools: Add structured data to all materials and tools necessary to complete the task.
  • Steps: Each HowToStep 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 HowToStep. 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 HowTo 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 HowTo 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 HowTo markup.

Applying How-To Schema

Understanding the How-To Schema Objects/Elements

Required:

  • Name – title of your article
  • HowToStep or HowToSection – full instructions of each step in the How-To article

Recommended:

  • description – further description of the How-To step
  • estimatedCost – the estimated cost of completing the guide
  • image – a photo of the step for better details
  • supply – an item needed that is consumed to complete a step
  • tool – an item needed but is not consumed to complete a step
  • totalTime – the total time needed to finish the guide
  • video – the full video of the guide
  • video.hasPart – a clip of the full video that indicates a single step
  • video.hasPart.endOffset – the end time of the clip from the beginning of the video
  • video.hasPart.name – the full name of the clip
  • hasPart.startOffset – the start time of the clip from the beginning of the video
  • video.hasPart.url – a link to the specific time of the clip in the full video 

Prepare the Code and Fill in the Details

To save you time, you could simply copy and paste this code that I did for the Comprehensive SEO Audit Guide I wrote. There are also a bunch of schema generator websites available or you could also copy the code in Google’s How-To schema guidelines.

Take note that this sample code only has 2 steps in it which is the minimum required. You’ll need to copy and paste the “step” lines of code for each step in your How-To article.

<script type=”application/ld+json”>
{
“@context”: “http://schema.org”,
“@type”: “HowTo”,
“name”: “SEO Audit 2019: A Comprehensive Guide”,
“description”: “An audit is a part of any SEOs regular duties. Here’s how to do it in 2019.”,
“image”: {“@type”: “ImageObject”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Cover-Photo-SEO-Audit-2019-A-Comprehensive-Guide.jpg?x45231”,
“height”: “406”,
“width”: “305”},
“tool”: [{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “Google Analytics”
},
{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “Google Search Console”
},
{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “Screaming Frog”
},
{ “@type”: “HowToTool”,
“name”: “SEMRush”
}
],
“step”: [
{
“@type”: “HowToStep”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/seo-audit-comprehensive-guide/#check-website-traffic”,
“name”: “Check your Website Traffic”,
“itemListElement”: [{
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Do a regular check of your traffic in Google Analytics. Check for sudden drops and investigate what is the cause of the drop.”
}, {
“@type”: “HowToTip”,
“text”: “It is recommended to do it twice a week.”
}],
“image”: {
“@type”: “ImageObject”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/screenshot-analytics.google.com-2019.05.16-14-01-30-1024×300.png?x45231”,
“height”: “406”,
“width”: “305”
}
}, {
“@type”: “HowToStep”,
“name”: “Check your Google Search Console Coverage Report”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/seo-audit-comprehensive-guide/#check-coverage-report”,
“itemListElement”: [{
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Check your Submitted Sitemaps”
}, {
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Check Submitted and Indexed Report”
}, {
“@type”: “HowToDirection”,
“text”: “Check Indexed, Not Submitted in Sitemap Report”
}],
“image”: {
“@type”: “ImageObject”,
“url”: “https://seo-hacker.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/GSC-Coverage-Report-1-1024×486.jpg?x45231”,
“height”: “406”,
“width”: “305”
}
} ],
“totalTime”: “P1D”
}
</script>

Test your Code and Deploy

Once you are done filling in all the details, you now need to check your code for errors. There are two tools I recommend; Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool and Google’s Rich Results Test.

I personally prefer using the Structured Data Testing Tool because I find it more efficient in finding errors in structured data code. However, Google will be deprecating the tool soon and will move all of its features to the Rich Results Test.

In the tool, there is an option for you to check a specific webpage or raw code. In this case, we’ll go for the code snippet.

It will then show you if your code is valid and if there are any errors or recommendations.

Similar to the Structured Data Testing Tool, the Rich Results test can also verify structured data either via a URL or code snippet. The main difference between the two tools is that the Rich Results Test can give you a preview of how your website will look like in the search results.

Once everything is perfect, you can now deploy your code! Since How-To schema is placed in a specific page, I would recommend putting it at the start of the <body> of the HTML code.

Resubmit in Google Search Console

This step is not really required because Google will eventually crawl updates on your page within a few days but just to make sure it gets indexed, you can use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console and request for reindexing of the page/s you updated.

How it Would Look in the SERPS

In the Rich Results Tests, you could click Preview and it will show you how your content will appear in the search results for a How-To Rich Result.

Monitor How-To Schemas in Google Search Console

Once Google is able to crawl the How-To structured data on your blog posts, you will notice a new section under “Enhancements” in your Google Search Console account labeled “How-To”. This is where you can see all the valid How-To pages in your website and should they have any errors or warnings.

Key Takeaway

How-To articles are key in having a good quality website that helps you build authority and is going to help give you traffic even after a long time those articles were published. The How-To schema is a great way of differentiating your website from your competitors and can draw more clicks.

Always remember that Rich Results are not guaranteed. Do not get frustrated if you are not seeing How-To rich results for your website since it depends on Google’s algorithm if it is going to show Rich Results for a specific search result.

SEO, , ,

About Sean

is a Filipino motivational speaker and a Leadership Speaker in the Philippines. He is the head honcho and editor-in-chief of SEO Hacker. He does SEO Services for companies in the Philippines and Abroad. Connect with him at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Check out his new project, Aquascape Philippines.