Google on What’s Going on With FAQ Rich Results

Google on What's Going on With FAQ Rich Results

Google’s John Mueller was asked about the status of the FAQ structured data and if it still worked for producing rich results. Mueller answered yes and explained the process of fine tuning not just the rich results but also the search results themselves.

FAQ Structured Data

Structured data is markup, like HTML that provides the information on the web page in an organized manner that can then be used to show featured results known as Rich Results.

Rich results tend to be coveted because they are big and featured at the top of the search results.

FAQ rich results have the effect of dominating the search results and knocking out one or two competitors from page one of the top ten, resulting in perhaps only seven search results
showing instead of ten.

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That’s advantageous to companies to be able to push competitors to page two of the search results.

Screenshot of Google’s Mueller Discussing FAQ Rich Results

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller discussing FAQ structured data and rich results

Does FAQ Structured Data Still Work?

The question was simply worded:

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“Does the FAQ still work?”

Mueller answered:

“I assume this means the FAQ structured data. …From what I know that continues to exist and continues to work.”

Mueller followed up by saying that Google makes adjustments to rich results, presumably to achieve specific benchmarks of user satisfaction with the search results.

Here’s how John explained it:

“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.”

This next part is really interesting 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.”

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Fine Tuning the Search Results

An interesting thing that happened in this office hours hangout is that multiple people told John that they had made website changes that resulted in a negative ranking outcome.
Mueller’s response to those questions was to note that Google is constantly making changes (fine tuning?) to the search results and downplayed a cause and effect from the changes the
people were asking about.

Google isn’t showing as many FAQ rich results as it had when they were first introduced.

What’s interesting about John Mueller’s explanation for the scarcity of FAQ rich results is that the answer was in the context of Google “fine tuning” the rich results.

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When trying to understand some (not all) changes that Google makes to the search engine results pages (SERPs), it might be useful to frame the inquiry within the context of whether the change might be undergoing a fine tuning and if so, what is it that Google is fine tuning it for? The answer is probably 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.

Citations

Does FAQ Structured Data Still Produce Rich Results?
Watch John Mueller answer question at the 32:31 minute mark

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