How to Use HowTo Structured Data

HowTo structured data is a type of structured data (also referred to as HowTo schema markup) that directly informs search engines that the content on a specific webpage is about how to accomplish something by performing a sequence of steps, in order.

Beyond giving search engines more information about the content of the page, valid HowTo schema pages are potentially eligible to appear as a rich result in Google Search and automatically creates an Action for Google Assistant, which means that a device like a Google Home will read out the steps you specify when somebody asks a how-to question.

Example of how-to rich result in the mobile SERPs.
Source: Google

This article will teach you how to use HowTo schema, and how to actually implement it on your website. If all you’re looking for is an example or template for HowTo structured data, you can just run this very blog post through Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool or Inspect Element with Chrome and do a search for “HowTo” . If you’re looking for a more comprehensive, step-by-step guide, read on!

Required vs. Recommended Properties

Required Properties

The only required properties for HowTo schema are name and step.

  • Name refers to the name of the ‘How To’, like ‘How to use HowTo structured data’.
  • Step refers to the sequential instructions that make up the How To Process.

Recommended Properties

There are a number of useful properties that, if you have the information, you should include within your structured data. I’ll highlight a few of the most critical ones here:

  • Description is a text description of the how-to itself
  • Image can be added to each step in the process, which enables the rich result to also appear with images in addition to the text steps
  • Video can also be added to each step in the process if you have a corresponding video.

For a full list of properties, check out the page.

How to Use HowTo Structured Data (Schema Markup)

Write an Article

Write an article that describe a How-To process that can be completed in a specific, sequential order of events.

Use a JSON Template

Take this example JSON code from Google, and use it as a template to fill in with your content. Copy and paste the code into Structured Data Testing Tool by visiting the tool, and clicking on ‘Code Snippet’, and then click ‘Run Test’.

example HowTo schema code from Google

Modify the Template with Your Content

Modify the code to fit the content of your article; only content that is also visible to users can be included within the HowTo schema markup. Start by adjusting the name and description, and then begin editing the rest of the properties.

Add or Remove Properties

Remove properties that may not be relevant, such as estimatedCost or supply. Add properties that may be relevant, such as totalTime.

Validate Your Code

Once you’re done editing the code, click on the ‘Validate’ button to ensure you didn’t break the code while editing it. If you have no Errors, you’re all set.

screenshot of the structured data testing tool showing properly validated howto structured data

Implement the Code

Implement the JSON code on the relevant webpage. Either paste it in directly into the source code (the <head> section is preferred, but not required), fire it through a Google Tag Manager Tag, or find a plugin that can do it for you.

Validate the Live URL

Run the URL of the page with the implemented structured data through the Structured Data Testing tool to ensure nothing went wrong when pushing the code live.

screenshot showing a url being submitted for evaluation in the structured data testing tool

Submit the URL to Google

Submit the URL to Google Search Console through the ‘URL Inspection’ tool to immediately have Google crawl and submit the page, with your validated HowTo structured data, directly to Google’s index.

URL being submitted to Google's index in Google Search Console

Final Thoughts

There you have it! As you can see, creating & implementing HowTo schema markup is very easy, and can give your webpage a nice boost in the SERPs by appearing as a rich result. For more on schema markup, you can check out my comprehensive guide to all things schema here, or contact me if you have any questions.

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