HowTo Shema.org structured data can increase your chances of having your how-to related content of appearing with a rich result in Google’s search results pages (as well as Bing and Yahoo).

Having your website appear with a large rich result can greatly increase your visibly with searchers and potentially achieve a higher CTR and better Bounce Rate.

The different types of Rich Results that can appear in Google include:

  • Standard, Text: accordion-style rich result
  • Image: carousel style rich result
  • Video: rich result with video clips and mixtures of the above

This post will outline how to implement the Image and Standard, Text version of HowTo structured data.

HowTo Google Rich Result preview breakdown

Preview and Breakdown of a Google Rich Result for Standard HowTo Structured Data

HowTo Structured Data Properties & Guidelines

Google Required Properties
  • Name
  • Step
Google Recommended Properties
  • description
  • estimatedCost
  • image
  • supply
  • tool
  • totalTime
  • video
Other Schema.org Properties Available
Do Not Use HowTo Schema Use For
  • Advertising purposes
  • Recipes (use Recipe structured data)
  • Typical ineligible content (adult, violence, etc.)

HowTo Structured Data Steps & Code Examples

The following step-by-step guide will show you how to implement HowTo schema.

Step 1

Come up with a topic that will allow you to walk users through a set of steps to successfully complete a task.

Person thinking of topic idea

Step 2

Do the prepwork needed to fill the required properties (at least) HowTo Schema preperation

Examples of Schema.org properties to prepare before the step property

Image Property
There are two aspects to the image property when it comes to a HowTo snippet.
  • Main Image: This is the featured image you’d like to represent the how-to guide as a whole and can potentially appear next to the description and title tag in the SERP.
  •  
  • Individual Step Images: You can also list an image to represent each step in your guide (recommended).
Image property Rules and Guidelines
  • Image URLs must be crawlable and indexable.
  • Images must represent the marked up content.
  • Images must be in jpg, png, or gif format.
  • For best results, images should have the following aspect ratios: 1×1, 4×3, and/or 16×9.
JSON-LD Snippet Example:
"image": { 
"@type": "ImageObject", 
"url": "https://example.com/images/post-image.jpg", 
"height": "1200", 
"width": "1200" 
}
Time Related Properties
There are three properties available to specify certain durations of time. They Include:
  • performTime: The length of time it takes to perform instructions or a direction (not including time to prepare the supplies).
  • prepTime: The length of time it takes to prepare the items to be used in instructions or a direction.
  • totalTime: The total time required to perform all instructions or directions (including time to prepare the supplies).
JSON-LD Snippet Example:
"performTime": "PT30M", 
"prepTime": "PT30M", 
"totalTime": "PT1H"
Note: All time properties must be listed in ISO 8601 duration format.

 

Supplies and Cost Properties

The following HowTo properties will list the monetary amount it will take to complete the instructions as well as list the supplies and tools needed.

For costs related to your HowTo instructions, use the estimatedCost property.

It’s defined as:
“The estimated cost of the supply or supplies consumed when performing instructions.”

Inside of estimatedCost, the value property is where you put the monetary amount and the currency property is where you list the type of currency you’re representing.

Note: If something is free, list the value as zero.

JSON-LD Snippet Examples:

"estimatedCost": { 
"@type": "MonetaryAmount", 
"currency": "USD", 
"value": "0" 
} 

The supply property lists the item(s) “consumed when performing instructions or a direction.”

"supply": [ { 
"@type": "HowToSupply", 
"name": "Featured Image" 
}, { 
"@type": "HowToSupply", 
"name": "HowTo Structured Data" 
} ] 

The tool property lists the item(s) used (but not consumed) when performing instructions or a direction.


"tool": [ { 
"@type": "HowToTool", 
"name": "Structured Data Testing Tool"
}, { 
"@type": "HowToTool", 
"name": "Google Rich Snippet Test", 
"url": "https://search.google.com/test/rich-results" 
},{ 
"@type": "HowToTool", 
"name": 
"Website Code Editor" 
},{ 
"@type": "HowToTool", 
"name": "Image Editor" 
} ]

Depending on your needs, you may need to prepare more items, make sure to reference schema.org/HowTo for more properties that may be available.

Step 3

Start writing your Schema (structured data) snippet to include all of your steps.

Writing Schema Structured Data Code

This is where the fun starts.

The step property is the parent property to all of the steps for your how-to document.

There’s also multiple sub-properties, the heirarchy goes as follows:

  1. step: An array of HowToStep elements which comprise the full instructions of the how-to.
  2. HowToSection: A sub-grouping of steps in the instructions for how to achieve a result (e.g. steps for making a pie crust within a pie recipe).
  3. HowToStep: Defines the simple textual step in a how-to, and may include an image.
  4. HowToDirection: A direction indicating a single action to do in the instructions for how to achieve a result.
  5. HowToTip: An explanation in the instructions for how to achieve a result. It provides supplementary information about a technique, supply, author’s preference, etc.

JSON-LD Snippet Example:

"step": [ { 
//Step 1 Markup 
"@type": "HowToStep", 
"name": "Structured Data Development", 
"itemListElement": { 
"@type": "HowToDirection", 
"text": "How to perform step 1." 
} 
}, { 
//Step 2 Markup with Tip 
"@type": "HowToStep", 
"name": "Test Your Markup", 
"itemListElement": [{ 
"@type": "HowToDirection", 
"text": "How to perform step 2." 
}, { 
"@type": "HowToTip", 
"text": "A tip to help perform step 2 more efficiently." 
}] 
}] 
}]

Step 4

Test your code to make sure it’s free of errors.

Rich Results Test for Structured Data

 

Tip

Write and/or test your snippet in Google’s Rich Results Test or Structured Data Testing tool.

Step 5

Implement your Schema snippet onto your website.

Implementing structured data on website

 

Tip

You can implement your markup in the <head> or <html> section of your site.

FAQs

Can you force a standard text-based rich snippet (without images for each step)?

Yes. If you skip the image (most importantly) and url properties for each step it should force the text-only snippet.

  Can you force an image carousel rich snippet?

No. However, if you provide an image and url property for each step an image carousel-type snippet will most likely be the one that shows in the SERP.

 

In Conclusion

While labor intensive, HowTo structured data can provide your website the competitive edge it needs outperform in a crowded content market. Of course, always do your own research and see if the time and costs needed to implement it would be worth it for your website.

Have any thoughts or examples of HowTo schema?

Please leave your comments below.

Sources:

The following two tabs change content below.