In a Google SEO Office-hours hangout, John Mueller explained the reasons why a website would lose all the FAQ rich results snippets.
What are Rich Results?
Google’s search results were traditionally ten blue links. Users made a search and Google showed ten links to ten web pages.
Now Google shows what are called Rich Results.
There are search results that are more than a link.
These kinds of search results contain information that directly answers the search query.
That’s convenient for users because they don’t have to click to find a quick answer.
But if the user is performing deep research then they have the option to click through to the web page to find a more detailed answer to their query.
What are FAQ Rich Results?
Google may show links to frequently asked questions (FAQs) that a web page contains.
FAQ rich results can help a web page dominate two or three spaces in the search results.
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That is what makes that kind of rich result desirable.
In order to show this kind of rich result in Google, a web page needs to have properly coded structured data to show these kinds of rich results.
Why Does Google Remove Rich Results?
The person asking the question experienced the removal of all of their FAQ rich results from Google’s search results.
This action felt like a punishment and the person asking the question wanted to know why Google hadn’t alerted them to a problem prior to the removal of the FAQ rich results.
This is the question:
“What reasons might cause Google to remove all FAQ snippets from a site without providing a warning in search console?”
Google’s John Mueller answered:
“We don’t guarantee any rich results.
So it’s not that we would provide a warning per se …for any kind of rich result type in search.
But rather, when you use the correct markup you’re eligible to be shown.”
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Rich Results Change Over Time
FAQ rich results has the ability to knock one or two competitors off of the search results.
That means that there is less competition for website visitors in the search results.
When the FAQ rich results were introduced the web community responded like Google was handing out free money because this was a way to increase search presence.
The number of FAQ rich results that Google shows in the search results has tended to fluctuate.
Mueller continued his answer:
“And it can happen that we show a lot of these rich results for your website and maybe we’ll scale them back over time, maybe we’ll scale that up again over time.
It can also happen that we turn them off completely.
When it comes to rich results we have different levels that we look at.
On the one hand it has to be technically implemented properly.
On the other hand it has to be compliant with our policies.
In general we have algorithms that try to understand our policies and try to kind of… enact… I don’t know… engage on that.
So that’s something where you… wouldn’t see a message around that.
And the third thing that we think about when it comes to rich results is that we need to make sure that the website’s quality overall is okay.
And understanding a website’s quality, that changes over time and in particular when it comes to things like core updates, that can change.
So if you saw this change… around when we launched a core update then it might be that our algorithms of have kind of refined what we think of your website, how we kind of see that fit in, how relevant we think that is for certain queries.
And based on that, maybe rich results are not shown anymore.
There’s also the option that there was something so bad with regards to the structured data on the page that the web spam team took a manual action.
But that’s something that’s really rare. And that would be something you’d get a notification on in search console.”
John Mueller gave a thorough answer as to why Google removes rich results, based on user needs (relevance) and site quality issues.
Google support page article about FAQ rich results
Mark up Your FAQs with Structured Data
VIDEO: Why Would Google Remove All FAQ Rich Results?
Watch the answer at the 39:11 Minute Mark