Google announced that publishers can now create how-to “actions” for Google Assistant by using structured data. This is an opportunity for publishers to expand their reach to a wider audience on Google Assistant.
What are Google Actions?
Google actions are a way to interact with Google Assistant. While actions can consist of trivia games or bedtime stories, in this case, actions can provide guided instructions.
Previously developers had to code the actions. Now publishers can simply add structured data to existing how-to content in order for it to become an action for Google Assistant.
Here’s how Google’s developer page for actions describes it:
“Actions on Google lets you extend the functionality of the Google Assistant with Actions. Actions let users get things done through a conversational interface that can range from a quick command to turn on some lights or a longer conversation, such as playing a trivia game.”
Unfortunately, creating actions meant knowing how to code. That’s no longer the case for publishers of how-to content.
What Pages are Eligible For How-to Structured Data
Google published a developers page for how-to structured data. This is how it explains it:
“Use HowTo structured data to explicitly tell Google that your content is a how-to… Properly marked up how-to pages may be eligible to have a rich result on Search and How-to Action for the Google Assistant, which can help your site reach the right users.”
The developers page states there are two ways to know if the how-to structured data is appropriate for your page.
- The how-to must be read sequentially.
- The how-to is the “main focus of the page.”
That last requirement appears to say that you cannot add a how-to to an existing page with other content on it, such as an article or a product page, where the article or the products on sale or reviewed are the main focus.
How-to for Smart Displays
The how-to actions are currently just for Google Assistant. However, Google is currently signing up publishers who are interested in participating in publishing how-to content for smart displays. The sign up form is on Google’s developer page for how-to structured data, here.
Google Assistant Actions May Expand Your Reach
It’s inevitable that some publishers will complain that content marked up for Google Assistant will result in less traffic. That view is short sighted and mistaken.
Creating actions for Google Assistant by using structured data may expand the reach of your brand without taking away any traffic. The traffic that’s on Google Assistant is there, regardless if a publisher participates or not.
The how-to structured data may result in rich results in Google search. So it’s not a burden for the same code to also provide the opportunity to expand your brands reach to Google Assistant.
Publicizing your site to new users in a positive setting is always a good thing. It’s like advertising but without paying a cent.
Read Google’s announcement:
Read Google’s developer page for how-to structured data:
Roger Montti is a search marketer with 20 years experience.
I offer site audits and link building strategies.