Schema markup can increase or improve your estate on SERP results allowing you to attract more users and increase the click-through rate. In this article, we will cover the basics of the Howto schema and how to use it to increase the traffic to your site.
What is the HowTo Schema?
The HowTo schema is part of the supported Schema bundle introduced by Google in 2019. The HowTo schema provides step by step instructions to accomplish a specific task. Content can be feature video, images, and or text. This schema is supported in all languages and all countries but is limited to mobile devices. The advantage of this schema is that you are provided with a lot of estate on SERP results. As opposed to other schemas like the FAQ the user is provided with a partial answer as typically up to 3-4 steps that fit in the SERP results. This forces the user to click on view all the steps link at the bottom of the snippet.
HowTo Schema Definition
The HowTo schema is one of the most complex schemas as it has a lot of entries to deal with in the following section we will cover the most important attributes.
- name. The name is the title of the HowTo. It is suggested that you use the SEO title
- description. Provides a description of the Howto. Limit the description to 150 characters so it is not truncated.
- estimatedCost (Optional). The estimated cost of tools and consumables required to perform the task.
- performTime (Optional). The time (in ISO 8601 format) required to perform the task from start to end.
- prepTime(Optional).The preparation time (in ISO 8601 format) to prep to tools and the consumables.
- totalTime(Optional).The total time (in ISO 8601 format)to prep and perform the task
- yield (Optional). The amount of item produced in the howTo. eg. 10 origami flowers.
- steps. A list of steps represented as an image, text or video.
- tool (Optional). A tool that is required to accomplish the task. You can add multiple tool objects to the schema. If we are describing how to change a tire. The jack is the tool.
- supply (Optional). An item that is required to change. If we are describing how to change a tire. The tire is the supply.
Example Howto Schema
Let’s assume that I need to create a Howto schema for a page to show how to change a car tire. The following are the main steps
- Jack the Car
- Loosen bolts and Replace Tire
- Tighten Bolts and Remove Jack
As you can see for each step you can provide an image, textual description as well a link for the step on the page.
If you misuse the schema you will be slapped with a manual action resulting in demotion or delisting of the page/site. The following are the core guidelines.
- You cannot use the How-to schema for advertisement
- Your content cannot contain obscene, profane, sexually explicit, or graphically violent; or promotes of dangerous or illegal activities.
- The content in the How to schema has to match the content on the page.
- If materials and tools are required they have to be included in the schema.
- Each HowToStep has to include the content of the step. If the steps are represented through an image make sure that each step has a unique image. Images cannot be reused in multiple steps. The images used in the schema have to be included in the corresponding page.
- Do not user the HowTo markup for recipes or general content.
The full details of the schema can be found on the Google search Howto documentation pages and the detailed Schema.org Howto documentation pages. If you are not proficient with generated the structured data manually you can use schema generators. There are also generators that can be plugged in into your CMS that will further simplify the process as you don’t need to manually manipulate the HTML to insert the structured data.
Simon Bonello is Co-founder of Gain Changer. His main area of focus is Business Process Automation, Software Technical Architecture and Technical SEO