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?
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.
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.