Using Schema to Create Google Actions

Recently, Google announced that publishers can now create Google Actions from web content with schema markup.

Google Actions are a great way for brands to get more mileage out of their SEO strategy while offering another chance to reach searchers organically. Optimizing your website for newer SEO features such as Google Actions and Rich Results is becoming increasingly critical to keeping the Google algorithm happy.

Though the option is not available for every content type, this new capability is huge for those of us who are less technical.

What Are Google Actions?

Google Actions are apps that are designed for Google Assistant. They range from apps like the Domino’s delivery action to health and fitness apps, ride-hailing services, and even personality tests.

Actions work when the user prompts Google Assistant with a phrase like “OK Google, [Action].

All actions take place inside the cloud even though users can access them on any device with the Google Assistant enabled. Each ActionAction is tied to a specific intent and is programmed with the corresponding fulfillment process to complete the request.

Google Actions and Schema

Schema refers to a type of microdata that provides Google with more context about the intent of any piece of content.

Adding schema markup to a web page creates a rich result or an enhanced description that appears on the front page of Google. Rich Results include everything from book now buttons for local businesses to recipe instructions, events, and contact information.

Search engines need to match content to search inquiries, and part of determining the quality of a search result depends on user intent.

Schema is a way for websites to alert search engines about the intent behind the content. It’s also required for websites that want to be eligible for Google’s Rich Results, which increasingly accounts for the biggest part of the first page in the search results.

Adding schema markup alone, of course, will not guarantee you land at position 0. You’ll have to follow Google’s recommendations perfectly and choose the right schema for the page you’re targeting. Your content must also be useful, engaging, and credible.

Google’s latest announcement brings schema to Google Actions, which offers another channel for you to earn some of your SEO share back.

For content creators, this means they now have the ability to create Google Actions, whether or not they know their way around Dialogflow or the Google Actions Console. Instead, Google will automatically generate an action when users add specific mark up to the eligible content types.

Content Types for Google Actions Schema

Using schema for content actions provides an opportunity for you to increase brand awareness in a format that has limited advertising opportunities. With schema markup, Google can create a variety of actions based on five types of content that you may publish on the web.


Google’s guidelines that you can apply the FAQ schema to any site that features a list of questions and answers on nearly any subject. This means the option isn’t limited to an official FAQ page included on your website. Instead, you can create FAQ Pages for any resource or topic relevant to your business.

The FAQ schema, whether it’s linked to an action or not, allows brands that aren’t in position 0 to take up a ton of real estate on the search engine results pages.

As with other types of schema, your FAQ content needs to match what’s on your website 100%. Otherwise, Google may slap you with a manual action. It’s also worth noting that FAQ content is purely informational and intent, and as such, you should not use markup as a free advertising Channel.

By converting your FAQ pages into Google actions, the Google Assistant reads your answers out loud when searchers enter a related voice query.


With recipe markup, users can promote their content through which cards presented in the Google Assistant and learn about your content in the assistant directory. You can use it to highlight nutritional information, ingredients list and prep time, and images to get searchers interested in your food.

You can also use the recipe schema together with the guidance markup to give consumers a way to follow along with audio instructions for your recipes.

You’ll need to fill out a Google Form to get started with the feature. It requires only your name, company name, email, and domain.

You’ll need to be sure that your page features both the recipe and guidance markup to be eligible for the rich search results and as a Google action. You’ll also need to make sure that you’ve set up your structured data correctly.


Google announced last May that they would be adding podcasts to the search results screen with a new structured markup option.

For podcasters who were reliant on search features on Stitcher or Apple podcast, the option to improve discoverability in the Google search results is huge.

With this markup, podcasters can improve their showing in the search results and on Google podcast with individual episode descriptions and an embedded player for each on the first page. An additional new feature, Deeper Podcast search, allows users to search for actual audio directly inside the podcast with Google transcription.

Connecting podcasts to a Google action elevates things to the next level because it makes it easy for users to find your podcast in the assistant directory and play episodes from their smart speaker, Google home display, or their phone.

All you have to do is sign into the Google Play portal, click “add podcast” from the menu at the top right corner, add your RSS feed and apply required tags, then follow Google’s podcast markup guidelines to ensure you create an automatic action.


Adding mark up to your news content helps increase your visibility and allows users the option to consume your content via Google Assistant.

You can apply this schema to blog content, news articles, and articles, though you will need to be registered as a publisher on Google News to take advantage of this option.

The news markup makes stories visually stand out in the search results pages. Features like the top story carousel, the host carousel, visual stories, & headlines allow users the opportunity to attract more organic traffic to their sites by giving them a larger piece of real estate to share their content.

To add voice compatibility to the list of features, you’ll have to choose between AMP and non-AMP formatting.

To turn your news content into a Google action, you must sign up with Google Publisher. You must also have a dedicated news site that uses static, unique URLs with original content. Keep your ads, sponsored content, and affiliate links to a minimum. Also, consider using news specific XML sitemaps for easier crawling.

How-To Guides

You can use the how-to schema to mark up articles that contain instructional information that show readers how to do something new.

According to Google Developers, how to markup applies to content where the main focus of that page is the how-to. In other words, it doesn’t count if your long-form article includes the short how she section along with several other elements. The content has to be read sequentially as a series of steps.

You cannot markup offensive, violent, or explicit content. You must mark up each step and its entirety. You are not allowed to use this kind of markup for advertising purposes. This markup does not apply to recipes because of the fact they have their own schema. If applicable, include a list of materials and tools to complete the task along with images.

As voice search and smart devices become increasingly popular, they are valuable to the SEO landscape. Google actions offer a new point of entry for Brands who are looking to increase their visibility and the organic search results. This update makes Google actions accessible to a greater range of marketers who may not otherwise be able to build an action from scratch.


Schema Markup Guide

Schema is a type of structured data. Structured data is information presented in a universally understood format. In terms of websites, this means search engine bots are able to tell what a page is about and what elements it contains with greater ease. In return, searchers get more useful results, creating a better user experience.

Without structured data, webpages are nothing but information; there is no context. The structured data gives it context. is a markup vocabulary for structured data, created by Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo. They built the vocabulary with the intention of creating something that every search engine is able to understand, though it’s not clear if any other search engines are actually using it.

When you see a search engine result that features extra information, such as ratings, that’s because the website is using markup code to tell the search engines the rating content is there. The rich data and snippets create a more informative result, which generally increases click-through rates.

Surprisingly enough, only 0.3% of websites are using Schema markup, so I’m writing this to help you learn how you can use it on your own website to improve the appearance of your search engine results.

What Can You Do With Markup?

Schema lets you do all kinds of things. For example, you can add data types like:

  • Articles
  • Local Businesses
  • Book Reviews
  • Events
  • Restaurants
  • Recipes
  • TV Episodes with Ratings
  • Movies
  • Products
  • Software Applications
  • TV Episodes

I can’t go over every single thing you can do with Schema – because if I did, this blog post would end up being more like a book. So, if you’re interested in seeing everything you can do, head on over to to get the full list.

You can mark up everything from products to events and recipes. If your website has any kind of events, organizations, people, places, products, or creative work, it can benefit from the use of Schema markup data.

All the types of information have additional properties you can use to describe it in more detail. If I wanted to list a book on my website – that’s a creative work. Then, from there, properties could include: name (that’s where you’d put the title, of course), illustrator, ISBN, and more. Other properties are also possible, depending on how you want to describe the book.

Why Does Schema Matter?

Take chocolate, for instance. It’s both a yummy ingredient for many recipes, and a 2008 movie. When someone searches for chocolate, chances are they’re looking for information about the food, but, there’s always the chance they’re looking for the movie, too. And without Schema, Google can’t tell the difference between the search for a recipe, and the search for the film. That’s exactly why schema matters – and why you should be adding it to your code. The extra bit of code gives search engines what it needs to know that you’re talking about the ingredient, not the movie – and allows people who are searching for chocolate recipes to get more of what they’re looking for.

So, let’s look at what the code would look like if we wanted to talk about the movie, versus what it would look like if we were including a recipe.

Movie code:

<div itemscope itemtype=”“>

<h1 itemprop=”name”>Chocolate</h1>

Recipe ingredient:

<div itemscope itemtype=”“>

<span itemprop=”ingredients”>chocolate</span>

As you can see, the schema markup fits right inside whatever other HTML properties you want to give the item for display.

IMDb and other movie websites use schema to show movie ratings, which allows Google to pull that into their search results and show it on the results pages for applicable queries.

Food blogs and other recipe websites use schema, which allows Google to pull in the recipe image, ratings, and other details into their search results and show it on results pages for applicable queries. Where recipes are concerned, the use of schema is how Google adds your recipe to recipe specific search results, like the ones shown below.


What If I’m Not a Coder?

If you’re not comfortable with coding everything yourself, that’s okay. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper can help you create the basic Schema markup for several things.  All you have to do to get started is choose the type of markup you want to do, then enter the URL for your website. Then, you’ll be able to click through and tag the appropriate parts of the website. From there, you’ll be given the HTML code you need to include.

Then you’ll paste the code in the appropriate place in your source code – looking for the highlighted parts. If you’d rather not do that, you can download the HTML file that’s automatically generated, and pasted that into your content management system (CMS) or source code.

You can also use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to see if your rich snippets are properly configured. If it doesn’t show up in the search results like you think it should, or expected it to, this tool can help you determine where the issue is.

You can also use other code generators to help you get the job done. These include:

JSON-LD Schema Generator lets you choose the type of markup you want to create. You’ll be able to choose from: local business, person, product, event, organization, or website. Fill out as much of the information as you can, and then copy the generated code. Paste it in the head section of your HTML code, and test it with Google’s testing tool. creator has tools for hCard, hCalendar, and hReview. hCard is used for publishing people, companies, and organizations – like a vCard contact on your phone. hCalendar is used is used to markup events, using components of the iCalendar format. hReview is used for user reviews, whether of books, events, products, or services.

Schema App is a paid platform that allows you to quickly and easily deploy schema markup to any platform. The app will create the JavaScript Object Notation for Linked Data (JSON-LD) code for you, and you don’t have to worry about pasting it because the app will do it for you. The platform will also notify you when Google chances recommendations, and lets you update your markup in a few clicks. Pricing starts at $15/month for one domain and one user – after a 14-day free trial. There is also a WordPress plugin.

If that is a bit too much for you and you’re using a CMS like WordPress, then you can turn to plugins to help you get the job done. A word of warning, however, not all schema WordPress plugins are created equally. In addition to the one above, options include:

  • WP Rich SnippetsThis is a premium plugin, with pricing starting at $69/year for a single site license, a year’s worth of support, and a year’s worth of updates. Higher tier plans are available for additional site licenses and include add-ons. If you’d rather, you can pay a one-time fee of $399 to get unlimited site licenses, unlimited support, and unlimited updates. The add-ons include: anonymous user reviews, call to action, data tables and ranking tables, front end entry submission, user reviews image (so registered users can submit their reviews and include images if desired), and more.
  • All In One Rich SnippetsThis is a free plugin that makes it easier to create rich snippets for all of your content. It will help you create the schema markup without needing to know and understand how to manually write the code.
  • Rich Snippets WordPress PluginsThis is a $20 plugin from Code Canyon. It’s a schema shortcode generator so you can implement schema markup on your website and you can set your data to be either visible or invisible.If they are visible, your audience can see it – but if they’re not visible, the search engines can still see it. This plugin doesn’t implement schema site wide, but gives you more control over it.

Will Schema Improve My Rankings?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear cut answer. There’s not any conclusive evidence that suggests using the markup improves SEO rankings, but that doesn’t mean you should skip using it. The idea is that when your website has more extensive rich snippets, you will have a better click through rate. Over time, the increased click through rate may help boost your ranking. The more data you can markup with schema, and the more detailed you make it, the better off you could be in the long run. Why wait for it become a proven ranking factor to make changes to all your content?

Schema isn’t just for websites…

Schema markup isn’t limited to websites. You can also use it in emails to trigger Google Now cards, get information such as flight searches, tracking numbers of packages, and so on to show up in the user’s search results, and add actions to email.

Schema’s been around for a while, so if you’re already using it – how have you noticed it affecting your rankings and click through rates? Share your experience in the comments below.

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