What’s Going on With FAQ Rich Results from Google

One of Google’s Webmaster Trends Analysts was presented with a question about the status of the FAQ structured data in relation to if it still produces rich results. His answer was, “yes” and he dove into the process of fine-tuning not only the rich results but also the search results themselves.

FAQ Structured Data

Like HTML, Structured data is markup that delivers coordinated information on a web page that can then be utilized to demonstrate featured results known as Rich Results. These types of results are coveted because they are big and featured at the top of the search results.

FAQ rich results effectively dominate search results and eliminate one or two competitors from page one of the top ten, resulting in possibly only seven search results showing instead of ten. This is very valuable to companies to be able to push competitors to page two of the search results.

John Mueller, one of Google’s Webmaster Trends Analysts, was questioned if FAQ structured data still generates rich results. He explained the method for search results.

Does FAQ Structured Data Still Work?

The question presented was easy:

“Does the FAQ still work?”

Mueller responded:

“I assume this means the FAQ structured data. …From what I know that continues to exist and continues to work.” Mueller also stated that by saying that Google makes adjustments to rich results, presumably to achieve specific benchmarks of user satisfaction with the search results.

John explained:

“What usually tends to happen with some of these structured data types or rich results types is that over time we try to fine-tune how often we show them just to make sure we’re not overloading the search results with all of these… bling and extra functionality that just confuses people in the end. So what often happens is when we start a new type of rich results people will kind of reluctantly try it out and if it works well then everyone tries it out. And then suddenly the search results page is totally overloaded with this type of structured data.”

Optimization for user experience metrics is key

Is optimizing for user experience on your must-do list? Improving site speed, content permanence and interactivity can increase organic rankings, brand awareness and sales. John’s answers to this part of the interview is really noteworthy because he refers to Google’s systems trying to refine the search results along with the engineers.

Mueller’s follow-up:

“…Then our systems and our engineers work to kind of fine-tune that a little bit so that we continue to use that structured data. We just don’t show it for all sites all the time. Which kind of makes sense, similar to how we tune the snippets that we show for websites and tune the rankings and tune the search results overall. So that’s something where from at least as far as I know I don’t think we’ve turned off any of the FAQ rich results types.”

Fine-tuning the Search Results

During this office hours hangout, many expressed to John that they had made website updates that resulted in a negative ranking outcome. His response to that was Google is constantly fine-tuning search results and he downplayed a cause and effect said changes.

When comprehending some (not all) updates that Google makes to the search engine results pages (SERPs), it might be useful to fully understand what is Google fine-tuning it for? It is most likely geared towards a mix of things like user experience and Google’s desire to show as many answers as possible on a web page to satisfy those  users.