In June of 2021, marketers started to notice a new trend. The frequently asked questions (FAQ) sections in Google were only showing two results. To back up a little, let’s talk about these rich results FAQ sections and why it matters to businesses.
For websites and business owners, using structured data to answer a list of questions for their consumers meant that the FAQ questions (and answers) could be included in a drop-down menu in their Google search listing. This is a great tool for searchers. They get the most frequently asked questions at a glance.
For businesses, it gives you a little more real estate on the Google search listing. It’s a way to include pertinent questions and answers on a topic to entice and serve your audience. It’s an excellent tool in your search engine optimization (SEO) arsenal to help spotlight your online properties.
Why Did Google Limit the FAQ to Two?
Danny Sullivan of Google did confirm on Twitter that they were rolling out a change to limit only two FAQ results per page. As more and more people started to use this feature, an increasing number of FAQ results showed up, which got confusing and frustrating for searchers. Not only were searchers getting a lot of irrelevant FAQ questions and answers that they weren’t interested in, but it was pushing other pages lower and onto the second page of the results. That is why Google has essentially limited the structured data results so that searchers get more options per page to easily browse or dip into specific listings for their full details and search queries.
Remember, Google structures its algorithm to meet the searchers’ needs. As businesses began to implement the feature, Google felt limiting the viewing options was better to showcase results for those searching.
But how do they limit the results? Google uses an algorithm that pinpoints two results that meet its qualification to be shown as a rich snippet. They are then displayed as the most prevalent options to what searchers are looking for.
Why Should Businesses Care?
The big question with any Google change is, how does this impact my marketing? You can and should still use structured data FAQ. This doesn’t change anything about how you implement that. For websites, it means that your searchers won’t necessarily see all of those answers unless they click on your listing. But they will, ideally, see the most relevant answers that your audience wants to know, so you should try to optimize your site content, so you’re the one show as the rich snippet.
Because they are limiting the number of questions, listings are becoming more condensed. This might sound like a bad thing, but it’s a positive for most businesses and websites. Consider this: If the top ranking websites each have several FAQ questions, it pushes every entry below them down on the page or onto the second page. Now that Google has changed this, it condensed those listings and moved other listings that were once on the second page up to be more visible.
If you’re the top ranking for all search results, it likely won’t negatively impact you much, but more of your competition will get on the page and be viewable on search. For most businesses, it will mean more visibility, not less.
How to Work With Google’s New FAQ Limit
Does this change the way you work with your structured data? That’s the big question. The change is new, so we’re still working out how to navigate this change strategically. But some theories might weigh out in practice and seem, on the surface, to be good bets.
If you have different types of FAQs, logically, it seems like you might be able to position those to show for different searches. If you’re using keywords that match specific searches in your FAQ, they might push you higher in those search terms and showcase those facts on your page. We’ve seen this happen when playing with the feature for testing, but it’s not altogether reliable yet.
If you use different searches that are common for the same business, you’ll note that some of the FAQ listings will change depending on the searches. So that’s something to keep your eye on. We think that the best practice model will evolve to allow businesses to strategically develop their FAQ based on the search they target.
Currently, the best advice is that rich snippets are not going to be as long as they previously were, and the two FAQ results that are given priority may be smaller and take up less space in the results. However, if you’re currently trying to outrank competitors, you may now show higher on the page than before.
Google is constantly rolling out changes and updates, making it even more important to stay in the know on industry news so you can improve your SEO. Changes like these and adapting to them can help you outperform the competition.