Looking for a tactic to establish authority in your industry and potentially land your pages in the Google knowledge graph?
Look no further than Question & Answer schema, also called the FAQ schema markup or the Q&A schema.
Sit down with Ignite’s Director of Strategy Chrystal Lenardson as she dives into all you need to know about schema is and how you can add it to your site.
What You’ll Learn:
- What schema is
- What question and answer schema is
- The benefits of FAQ markup
- FAQ schema types: QAPage type
- FAQ schema types: Question type
- FAQ schema types: Answer type
- How to add FAQ schema to a page
- Introduction to JSON-LD
- Future benefits of FAQ Schema markup
The Question & Answer schema, as the name implies, is a road map to deliver FAQs. It uses code signals that bring your FAQ results to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs) if you answer a question that somebody types into the Google search bar.
What Is “Schema”?
If you’re brand new to search engine optimization (SEO), you might not even understand the word “schema.” In technical terms, a schema is an outline or model. For the purposes of SEO, “schema” usually refers to the specifications listed on schema.org.
Simply put, you can use schema markups to give the search engines a little more information about your website in a way that’s invisible to your users.
For example, if you’d like to identify the author of an article, there’s a schema type called Blog that includes an author property. You’d set the name of the author in that property.
Why would you want to go the extra mile to use a FAQ schema markup in addition to standard HTML markup? Because it makes it easier for search engines to parse the content on your site.
Question & Answer Schema Markup
You’ve probably seen plenty of Q&A websites around cyberspace. One of the most popular is Quora – an open forum for 100% user-generated questions and answers. Users submit questions others answer. Then, the full user population can upvote or downvote the replies. The answer with the most upvotes “wins” and is usually the featured answer that appears right below the question.
Another website, StackOverflow, follows the same format but is specifically for developers. People ask questions, others vote on the answers, and the top is answer is featured.
There are countless sites that follow the Quora/StackOverflow model. Fortunately, those sites make it very easy to show you the benefit of using question and answer schema markup on your own website by looking at one of these pages as a FAQ schema markup example.
The Benefits of the FAQ Schema Markup
If you search for “angular how to define an array” on Google, the top answer is from StackOverflow.
If you click on the page, you’ll see that somebody is asking how to declare an array of objects in Angular 2.
For the purpose of this exercise, the content and subject matter isn’t important. We are looking at this page as an FAQ schema example. Right-click anywhere on the page and select “View page source” or “View source” from the context menu that appears. This will pull up the page code.
It’s a bunch of HTML that might not mean anything to you. However, at the very top element, you’ll see this: <html itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/QAPage” class=”html__responsive”>
Look at the itemType property and you’ll see that it’s referencing http://schema.org/QAPage. That’s telling the search engines to identify the web page as a Q&A page.
Hit Ctrl-F to do a search and enter “http://schema.org/Question”.
This will take you to an HTML element that looks like this: <div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Question”>
That’s another reference to schema.org markup.
Now search for “http://schema.org/Answer” on the same page. As of now, it’s on the page four times. That’s because there are four answers to that question, making for a grand total of six schema references on this page.
That’s one of the reasons that StackOverflow answers so frequently appear at the top of the SERPs. Google can quickly parse the contents thanks to schema.org markup.
But Q&A schema markup isn’t only for designated forum and Q&A sites.
You can use it on any page of your website where you have outlined FAQs – which you should, because adding in FAQs is one of the best ways to help Google include your copy in a featured snippet.
Question & Answer Schema Markup: The QAPage Type
The QAPage is the “container” for all the questions and answers on a single page within the FAQ markup. On a website like StackOverflow, there’s usually one question on a page with several answers.
However, you don’t have to follow that model on your pages. You can, for example, create a FAQ that includes multiple questions with single answers.
Although there are several properties associated with QAPage, most of them are outside the scope of this article. You’ll usually just need to declare that your page is a type of QAPage.
Question & Answer Schema Markup: The Question Type
In addition to the QAPage container, the Question type and Answer type are critical elements of the FAQ markup schema.
There’s quite a bit more to the Question type than the text of the question. There are several properties associated with it:
- acceptedAnswer: The answer that’s been accepted as the “right” answer to the question. Usually, it’s an Answer type.
- answerCount: The number of answers to the question.
- downvoteCount: The number of times the question has been downvoted. Remember: users can typically upvote and downvote questions just like they can upvote and downvote answers.
- suggestedAnswer: An answer to the question. Usually, it’s an Answer type.
- upvoteCount: The number of times the question has been upvoted.
- url: The URL where the question is located.
- Text: The text of the question.
- Name: A name for the question. This is optional but it’s a good idea to give each of your questions a unique name.
- Publisher: The organization or person that “owns” the question. Usually, it’s the organization that owns the domain where the question is posted.
- About: Explains what the question is about. If you’re creating a FAQ page, then the question is about your business.
- isPartOf: This references the QAPage where people can find the question.
- Description: An optional description of the question.
Question & Answer Schema Markup: The Answer Type
Next, let’s go over the Answer type.
Once again, there are several properties you need to know about.
- downvoteCount – The number of times the answer has been downvoted.
- parentItem – Usually the question associated with the answer. In that case, it needs to be a Question type.
- upvoteCount – The number of times the answer has been upvoted.
- text – The text of the answer.
- name – An optional name for the answer.
- url – The URL where the answer is located.
- about – As with the question, if you’re creating a FAQ page, then the answer should be about your business.
- publisher – The organization or person that “owns” the answer. Usually, it’s the organization that owns the domain where the answer is posted.
- isPartOf – This will usually reference the QAPage where people can find the answer.
- description – An optional description of the question.
Adding Q&A Schema Markup to a Web Page
If you’re ready to add a question answer schema to your website, it’s a fairly easy process, especially within WordPress.
If you’re running a straight HTML website and you’re not currently using schema.org markup, you’ll need to do some manual tinkering.
There are two ways that you can add schema.org markup to your site: with microdata or JSON-LD.
The StackOverflow FAQ page schema example from earlier uses microdata to implement the Q&A schema markup which is simple enough to mimic on your own website.
In your HTML code, add the QAPage markup to the root element. That root element, oddly enough, is called “html”. Here’s what it looks like:
<html itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/QAPage”>
Then, you’d identify your question with the Question type by adding and customizing the following code:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Question”>
<div itemprop=”text”>How old is Bob Costas?</div>
In the outer <div> element, you’re declaring that the nested content is a question. In the second <div> element, you identify the question itself by setting the “text” property.
You would follow that same pattern for each of the answers:
<div itemscope itemtype=”http://schema.org/Answer”>
<div itemprop=”text”>I think he is 73.</div>
Luckily, there’s a simpler way to implement a FAQ schema.It’s widely considered that JSON-LD is a better way to implement schema.org markup than microdata for a few key reasons.You contain all the markup in one section of your code. That makes it easy to find errors and make changes.
More importantly, Google endorses the JSON-LD format. If you’re serious about improving your position in the SERPs, go with the Google recommendation.
- JSON – A simple data format. It has the benefit of being readable by both humans and computers.
- LD – A means of creating a network of data across websites.
Unfortunately, JSON-LD is a bit more complex than microdata as it’s designed more for professional developers.It’s a format designed for tech geeks.
Let’s look at an example that’s relevant to this topic:
“text”: “How old is Bob Costas?”,
“text”: “I think he is 73.”,
If youcopy and paste that code block directly on to your own website, you can change the question and answer to suit your needs. Google recommends that you put JSON-LD code in the <head> section of your HTML.
Of course, that example is simplified for readability. It doesn’t include a number of properties, such as upvoteCount and downvoteCount. You can add those easily. For example:
“text”: “I think he is 73.”,
For more info on adding values to a JSON object, check out this JSON tutorial.
Future Benefits of Q&A Schema Markup
At Ignite Visibility, we believe that Q&A markup will likely influence voice search results.
While the markup affects voice search today, according to Brian Dean, schema markup may not yet play a role in search rank. His research shows that only 36.4% of search results came from web pages that used schema markup. That’s not much higher than the worldwide average of 31.3%.
However, many people use voice search to ask questions. It wouldn’t surprise us if Google one day favors QAPage markup when delivering answers to those questions.
However, many people use voice search to ask questions. It wouldn’t surprise us if Google begins to favor QAPage markup when delivering answers.
Wrapping It Up FAQ Schema Markup
If you’d like to demonstrate that you’re an authority in your space, one of the best ways to do that is by using your website to answer questions asked by people in your target market.
If you decide to go that route, be sure to use FAQ schema markup so search engines can identify your content.
Websites using this markup routinely rank content at the very top of the SERPs and you can join them with effective use of Q&A markup on your web pages.