How to add HowTo Schema to your how-to article

You might know that structured data in the form of Schema.org can do wonders for your search results. It also forms the basis for an ever-increasing amount of new and exciting developments on the search engine front. Google has said many times that structured data is beneficial. Today, we’re going to look at a relatively new and exciting piece of structured data: the HowTo Schema. This is a how-to about a how-to on HowTo: HowToCeption!

Did you know Yoast SEO now comes with structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor? You can automatically add HowTo and FAQ structured data to your content! »

What is structured data?

Structured data is a sort of translator for search engines — it adds context to code. Schema.org is a so-called vocabulary, in other words, a dictionary. By adding Schema.org search engines can instantly figure out what every piece of content means, semantically speaking. This gives search engines the power to do cool stuff with your content, like highlighted snippets in search results, the Knowledge Graph or the carousel. There’s structured data for books, articles, courses, events, jobs, local businesses, music, recipes, products, reviews et cetera. Structured data is getting more important by the day and we’ll see more types emerge in the coming years.

If you want to learn more about structured data and find out how to implement it yourself so you can win those coveted rich results, you can enroll in our Structured data training!

What is HowTo structured data?

According to Schema.org, a HowTo is “an instruction that explains how to achieve a result by performing a sequence of steps.” You can use HowTo structured data to mark up articles that come in a how-to form, but that are not recipes. If there is an element of consumption, it should be a recipe.

HowTo Schema.org was introduced in April 2017 and has now made its way to Google’s search engine. Google is always looking at structured data to do cool stuff with, so it’s easy to see why HowTo is an awesome addition to the roster. How about this, since your Google Home can now read your structured data powered recipes out loud, why shouldn’t it be able to read that how-to on how to fix a leaky faucet or change the busted lights in your kitchen cabinet? Google already has an action that works with smart displays. Google has confirmed that it supports new forms of search results snippets, like FAQs or frequently asked questions, Q&As and How-Tos.

That’s cool and all, but isn’t there a lot of code involved in building a how-to page with valid structured data? Yes, but Yoast SEO has an answer to that. Read on, my friend!

How to add HowTo structured data using the WordPress content block in Yoast SEO

Looking for an easy way to add it HowTo structured data to your WordPress site? Well, you’re in luck as we have one! In Yoast SEO, we’ve introduced the concept of structured data content blocks for WordPress’ new block editor. These blocks, including one for HowTo and FAQ structured data, automatically add the necessary code to the pieces of content that you add to this block. Of course, it validates perfectly in Google’s Structured Data Testing tool. Now adding structured data to your how-to article is as easy as filling in the fields!

Here’s how to add a how-to to your site:

  1. Open a post in the block editor or add a new one

    The HowTo content block only works in the WordPress block editor.

  2. Hit the + button and pick the Yoast SEO HowTo content block

    You can add your how-to anywhere you want.

  3. The HowTo content block appears on your screen

    In the block, you’ll find a way to add a total time it takes to do this how-to (optional), a description field, a first step and a step description. You can also add an image per step, delete it and move it up and down the list.

  4. Add the first step

    Give it a relevant, descriptive title and fill in more details for the step, if necessary. Determine if you can make the how-to step made more understandable by adding a relevant image. Sometimes, it might be better to add an image to every step.

  5. Add a second step, a third step and a fourth step

    Add as many steps as you need to get this how-to task done. Need to switch steps around? Use the little up and down arrows next to the Add image button. To delete one, simply hit the trashcan button.

  6. And the structured data? It’s added automatically!

    Really? Yup! You can test it in the Structured Data Testing Tool.

  7. Ready? Check and publish!

    Once you are done, re-read the how-to and publish when ready. Check it to see if everything is in order and easy to understand for your user. If not, make improvements.

  8. Test the how-to in Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool

    You can use Google’s Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your how-to might look in the search results. Here’s an example for our article on How to build an FAQ page.

Testing in the Structured Data Testing Tool

Here you see the result in Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. Of course, this screenshot is truncated, as the HowTo part of the structured data is fully integrated in the graph Yoast SEO renders. This makes for a beautifully interconnected piece of code, but also very long:

A truncated screencap of the steps in the how-to

Adding structured data to your site with WordPress or Google Tag Manager

In general, adding structured data requires you to edit the code of your pages. For most people, that requires help of their developers. As you see, there is an easier way. Yoast SEO adds a lot of structured data by itself, but you can also add structured data via the dedicated Yoast SEO structured data content blocks for the block editor.

In addition, or if you don’t use WordPress, you can add structured data via the tags, triggers and variables available in Google Tag manager. What’s more, this way of adding your data gives you an extra amount of flexibility as you can save your variables and reuse them or even dynamically fill them. There are loads of options to explore. Annelieke wrote a post on how to add structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager.

Read our Yoast SEO Schema documentation to see how we work with structured data and how you can extend this.

It’s easy to build a how-to with valid structured data

This was cool, right? Well, you can use this for yourself, but keep in mind that it might take a while for search engines to pick this up. Even then, it’s hard to predict if search engines will do anything at all with your structured data. Using the various testing tools give you a good idea of validity of your structured data, but if it leads rich results is up to search engines!

Read more: Structured data: the ultimate guide »

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Leave a reply

26 Responses to How to add HowTo Schema to your how-to article

  1. Kedy
    Kedy  • 4 days ago

    It is really a good feature of Yoast and WordPress. I would like to get featured on Google rich snippet. But I have a question.

    I am not able to add two how-to blocks in a single post. Is this possible to use two how to schema in a single post? This is an important feature that must be integrated. I have a blog where I might often write about multiple methods guide on any How to. You have two methods to do that but I can only add only 1 how-to structured data on a post. How is this possible to use many how-to on a single page when we have many methods to achieve something.

  2. James King
    James King  • 4 days ago

    I’m working very hard re-engineering over 100 posts following your articles, which I understand. I have 30+ Howto posts so I thought this article would be useful. However, I’m afraid it is incomprehensible to me. I think I’ll need a PHD to understand it. If you could write one for Dummies, I may have a chance.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi James. It shouldn’t be too hard:

      – Check if you are using the WordPress block editor, not the Classic editor
      – Add a new block where you want it to appear by clicking on the + button
      – Search for the HowTo block and add it
      – For every step, fill the text fields and add an image, if applicable
      – Add as many steps as you need
      – Publish when you are done

      I think I’ll add a short video to the post, that might clear up some things.

  3. Bakari Chavanu
    Bakari Chavanu  • 5 days ago

    Thanks for this how-to. Before I even finished reading your article, I stopped and drafted my own how-to article using the block.
    But I’m curious, what do I need to do to turn my plain step numbers into colored circles like in your article.

  4. Fleur
    Fleur  • 5 days ago

    Awesome development! Do you have information if (and when) we can add recipe structured data this way? Thanks, keep up the good work :).

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Fleur. Glad you like it. A recipe block is at the top of our wishlist, but I don’t have a timeframe for you yet.

  5. Steve Biggs
    Steve Biggs  • 5 days ago

    FYI – in step 4 your image shows adding an ‘FAQ’ block and not the ‘How- to’ block.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hey Steven. Yeah, that’s a screenshot from another how-to article. I guess it complicates the steps a bit. I’ll take another look at the screenshots. Thanks for the heads up.

  6. Art Chester
    Art Chester  • 7 days ago

    Hi Edwin,

    Thanks for a welcome article about a timely topic.

    I tried adding a how-to block to two of my existing how-to pages using your instructions. When I tested them, the Google testing tool generated warnings, wanting a photo with each step.

    When I finished each block and looked at the published page, the extra block material was added to the end of that blog, partially duplicating content of the blog. Is that what’s supposed to happen? I’m not sure that it adds much value to the reader when it’s simply tacked onto the end.

    Thanks for any advice you can offer!

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Art. Great to see you use the content blocks. Google does indeed generate warnings, but these are not required items. To get the richest listing, Google would like you to add images to every step. But for some content, it is not feasible to make relevant, clear images that support the steps. If it doesn’t make sense for you to add them, don’t.

      Concerning block placement, it should appear where you want it? You can always move the block up and down the page by clicking the up and down arrows at the topside of the block.

  7. John
    John  • 7 days ago

    It would be nice if this feature was available in the Divi builder.

  8. Matt
    Matt  • 1 week ago

    I think you guys need to improve the how to. I think its implementation has only hindered my SEO and your own SEO tool wont recognise it and gives lack of heading warnings.

    It needs lots of work. At least allow image placement and sizing and add the Tool and Supply values needed to get it valid.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Matt. Thanks for your comment. Of course, we’re not done improving the blocks. When we built the blocks originally, we didn’t have the full Schema graph powering Yoast SEO. So we rebuilt the current blocks to make sure that blocks can add their Schema to the graph, making sure that the full content of the page is neatly tied together. Now that’s done, we can focus on making them better and better.

  9. Manuel Tian Shui
    Manuel Tian Shui  • 1 week ago

    Very useful and practical info.
    Satisfied with with Yoast as product and continues advice. Highly recommended.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Thanks, Manuel!

  10. Oscar
    Oscar  • 1 week ago

    Is there anyway to convert old how-to articles made with classic editor into new structure data How-to’s of the news block editor?

  11. Carlos
    Carlos  • 1 week ago

    This was a great addition to the Yoast plugin (which I’m already using). Thanks! HowTo and FAQ schema will definitely come in handy, but is there a way to use this Yoast functionality to create the structured data for reviews that show stars (1 through 5) in the Google results next to individual search results? I’m currently using a plugin for just that, and it would be nice to achieve that same result (number of review stars) next to my result in Google via the Yoast plugin so I can remove the existing plugin and speed up my site. Thanks!

    • Edwin Toonen

      Hi Carlos. We don’t have a way to add review schema automatically. It’s on our radar, though!

  12. Mihir
    Mihir  • 1 week ago

    Great post. Yoast SEO has always been an inspiration. I was looking for this, the article written on schema is always confusing but this was straight forward and very easy to follow.

    • Edwin Toonen

      Glad you like it, Mihir!

  13. Udaipur-yoga
    Udaipur-yoga  • 1 week ago

    Nice blog! Good explanation of how can we structure data with SEO and WordPress.

  14. Okereke Divine
    Okereke Divine  • 1 week ago

    Thanks for the post. However, I created my first HowTo, but there seems to be a problem.
    When I tried requesting indexing on Google Search Console, I saw an error reports that reads “1 valid item with warnings detected”

    When I check the warning I saw the errors are:
    1. Missing Field “TotalTime” (optional)
    2. Missing Field “Tool” (optional)
    3. Missing Field “Supply” (optional)
    4. Either image or video should be specified (optional)
    5. Either image or video should be specified (optional)
    6. Either image or video should be specified (optional)

    So my question is, if those things are optional, why then should I receive warning from Google Search Console.

    Please help me out.

    • Jon Rogers
      Jon Rogers  • 5 days ago

      Same problem here, but just for the missing Tool and Supply fields. I supplied the rest through the plugin.

      Because of the missing Tool and Supply fields, I got an email and a warning from Google in Search Console saying that my HowTo may be negatively affected in search results.

      Not good. This is supposed to help us in search, not hurt us.

      Is there something I missed in the plugin? If not, is there a fix planned so that we can put data in those fields, through the block?

      • Edwin Toonen

        Hi Jon. Thanks for your comment. Not filling out optional fields should not hurt performance. It’s not ideal, we know, and we’re aware of this. Google communicating this as an issue isn’t really helpful to anyone. But don’t worry, we’re working on adding the tool and supply fields as well. Stay tuned!

  15. Rohman Suparno
    Rohman Suparno  • 1 week ago

    which easier between classic editor wiyh this? Thank You..