How-to Schema was first announced in 2018 with the intent to make instructional, step-by-step content easier for a search engine like Google to crawl, so it could parse and display that content more efficiently for end users. Because How-to Schema is recognized by Google as an official Schema.org type, that means Google can show “rich snippets” from these optimized web pages directly in the search results.
That said, SERP features like these present a double-edged sword for SEOs and business owners alike. On one hand, taking up more organic real-estate in the SERPs can give your business the competitive edge and reinforce your brand by pushing your competitors further away from users. On the other hand, getting users to click through to your site may be trickier if searchers can get all the information they need directly in the search results.
With that in mind, the SEO team at Dealer Inspire set out to discover if adding How-to Schema to appropriate content pages on car dealer websites was a help or a hindrance. Let’s take a look and see what happened.
EXPERIMENTING WITH HOW-TO SCHEMA
In order to figure out the best way to use How-to Schema to maximize traffic, keyword density, and organic impression share, the Dealer Inspire SEOs developed a controlled experiment so we could examine:
- How Google’s How-to Schema markup can impact your SEO strategy
- How adding How-to Schema impacts organic traffic and keyword rankings
We started out by designing the experiment to identify Organic Sessions, Page 1 Keyword Rankings, and SERP Feature presence as the three metrics to track.
From there we identified pre-existing instructional style automotive SEO content that we had published for our clients which could be updated with How-to Schema, and recorded their current performance metrics prior to implementing the structured data.
After the How-to Schema was placed on those pages we requested Google to re-index them, and then got on with our lives for 30 days before returning to check to see what impact How-to Schema had (or didn’t have) on these pages.
When we came back to check on our experiment after a month of dominating the SERP for our clients, we found that the pages we added How-to Schema to had an average increase in sessions of 8.17%, and an increase in Page 1 search rankings of 9.07%.
It’s worth noting that when accounting for outliers (pages with sessions that went from 1 to 0) the average session increase from implementing How-to Schema for 30 days was a whopping 38.64%.
We also saw an interesting side result where we noted that web pages that appeared toward the bottom of the Page 1 rankings would also show How-to Schema SERP results.
WHY USE HOW-TO SCHEMA
So why should your dealership be implementing How-to Schema on applicable pages on your website? Good question! Not only does it showcase your content more prominently, but when users are searching from a mobile device, you can take up a huge amount of real-estate, especially if you manage to appear for both the featured snippet AND a How-to feature.
Engaging content is still important — especially when users click through to your site — but How-to Schema highlights the fact that your content will succinctly and accurately answer the user’s query.
Also, when it comes to voice searches using Google Assistant on a smartphone or a dedicated device, people can actually hear your result read to them if you have a featured snippet that answers the user’s question — which is more likely to occur if you’ve implemented How-to schema correctly.
WHEN TO USE HOW-TO SCHEMA
In the case of automotive SEO, How-to Schema should be applied deliberately and with purpose. For example, you wouldn’t want to waste your time implementing How-to Schema on a comparison between two vehicles, since that page is less instructional and more informational. However, if you want to tell your customers about how to change the battery in their key fob, How-to Schema may just give you the edge over your competitors.
After adding the required properties and testing your code using Google’s Rich Results testing tool, your page now has the ability to appear in the search results as a unique SERP feature.
#ProTip: To expedite the process, use the Google Search Console URL Inspection tool and request that Google re-index the updated page right away.
HOW DO YOU IMPLEMENT HOW-TO SCHEMA?
Schema markup is a lot easier to implement than in the past. Because of the flexibility of the Dealer Inspire platform, you can place schema in the text field of almost any page.
There are also many free Schema generator tools available to anyone looking to create basic Schema for their site where you can select the specific Schema type you are looking to create and the tool will walk you through the creation process.
That being said, if you’re not well versed in the nuances of generating, adding, and testing the functionality of Schema Markup on your webpages, Dealer Inspire can do this for you as a part of your ongoing SEO Strategy.
IS USING HOW-TO SCHEMA WORTH IT?
While the results varied significantly from page to page, overall, How-to Schema made a significant difference on the pages to which they were added.
In our view, optimizing your web pages to make them more useful for both users and search engines is a no-brainer. Adding How-to Schema markup is an easy and effective way to drive up traffic and keywords while building your brand as visitors are not only more likely to find you in searches but are also more likely to click through and interact on your site.
This reinforces what we already know about the importance of site structure: Google wants to reward websites that put users on the path to their next steps. The biggest takeaway from this experiment is that there is no downside to adding How-to Schema, so why not do it?
DATA DRIVEN SEO STRATEGY DRIVES RESULTS
The SEO experts at Dealer Inspire continuously monitor both the public and behind-the-scenes updates to Google’s algorithm to help you stay ahead of the curve. The best SEO strategy is one that prioritizes data-driven solutions. Have a question for the team? We would love to get you an answer!Let’s Talk Strategy