Google’s annual I/O conference took place last week at its California headquarters, and among the developments announced by the search engine giant was increased support for ‘how-to’ queries in the webmaster support tool Google Search Console, as well as help in making FAQ pages feature in search results.
With search engine users commonly looking for solutions to questions and problems, various lists and infographics can be found on the internet detailing the most frequently Googled questions. Google is acting upon this by allowing webmasters to put together step-by-step instructions to popular queries. These could, in theory, appear on Google’s results pages for the search term.
Search Engine Land provides a screenshot showing what this would look like for the query of ‘how to tie a tie’, which is one of the most commonly asked questions on Google. The answer to the query comes with images and numbered, step-by-step points.
New documentation now appears on the Developers section of Google’s website to assist website owners, and by following these steps, webmasters can clearly let Google know that their site is answering a ‘how-to’ question.
Help is also at hand for those who want their frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages to be picked up by Google. The site has published guidelines on how to feature in its FAQ rich results. This means that potentially, an entire FAQ page could appear in Google’s results, with the user able to click a dropdown menu to see the answer for each one.
This appears to be a development of support announced at the I/O conference last August, where attendees were given a preview of new-look search results for questions and how-to results. It appears that Google is now formally introducing this support.
The new support could be useful for those running sites that answer questions well and take their time to make their ‘how-to’ answers easy for Google to index, but may concern those with fears that Google’s ‘position zero’ results deter users from actually clicking through to the site.
Nonetheless, statistics show that there are a fair number of users who do visit sites featured in Google’s Snippets and Knowledge Panel rather than just viewing them on the results page, so featuring in them remains a goal worth pursuing. Perhaps the best advice for those trying out the ‘how-to’ support is to monitor traffic levels for the relevant pages and keep track of how effectively they are performing.