Google recommends web pages make ample use of structured data. This both allows its algorithm to better interpret the page and makes the page eligible to be displayed in graphic results, which are the row of listings accompanied by images that sometimes appear at the top of the results page.

Law firms can use structured data to describe events, reviews, articles and business addresses among other things. And now, they can use it to describe FAQs.

What is structured data?

Structured data is an established format for describing and classifying web page content. Search engines read structured data code and use it to both understand details about a page and display rich listings in results pages.

A rich result is one that contains extra features in addition to the page title, URL and description. One of the more common uses of structured data are recipe pages. When you search for a recipe and are served results that include photos, a star rating, nutrition facts, calorie counts or ingredients, those pages are using structured data to communicate that information to Google.

Structured data for FAQ pages

In May, Google announced its support for FAQ structured data. Google’s support for FAQ structured data offers new opportunities for law firms. FAQ pages are already valuable to law firm websites, as they offer opportunities for firms to receive high-quality traffic from searchers that are looking for information about specific, long-tail queries. People asking questions about the law are more likely to be in a situation where they are ready to hire a lawyer than those who may be in an earlier stage of research.

Additionally, pages that answer questions thoroughly and with authority may contain content that becomes a featured snippet — the coveted description box sitting in position zero at the very top of the search results page.

Now, when firms use FAQPage structured data, the content on their FAQ pages will become eligible to be displayed directly in search results and on Google Assistant.

For example, you are an estate planning attorney and your website has a FAQ page that uses valid structured data. The page answers the question, “What is the difference between a will and a living will?” If Google determines your page best answers this question, your listing will appear at the top of the results page with an introduction, question, answer to the question, and additional questions and answers from your page. Google gives the example of a FAQ page about origami on its webmaster blog. The answer to the question “What is origami?” would be displayed in results like this:

People who ask a question directly to their Google Assistant may also receive your content as the answer to their question.

Implementing structured data

To implement structured data, you must put specific code around each question and answer on your page. That code looks like this:

<script type=”application/ld+json”>{ “@context”: “https://schema.org”, “@type”: “FAQPage”, “mainEntity”: [{ “@type”: “Question”, “name”: “What is the difference between a will and a living will?”, “acceptedAnswer”: { “@type”: “Answer”, “text”: “A will only has legal impact after death. A living will takes effect while an incapacitated person is still alive.” } }</script>

You can see at the beginning of the script the context is described as schema.org, often referred to as Schema, which catalogues structured markup data. The page is then labeled a FAQPage, and both the question and answer text is identified. Note that every question and answer on the page must be so identified before closing the script.

Validating structured data

Google provides a way to validate your structured data within Search Console with its rich results status reports. Rich result reports can be found under Enhancements in the Search Console menu panel. Google provides reports for both Events and FAQs, two items law firms should be using.

Should the status report show a parsing error, you can access an error details page, which offers insight on how to handle the problem. Additionally, status reports will tell you whether Google is seeing a drop in items containing structured data. If you have not removed items, this could be an indication that Google is having trouble accessing your pages, which should be investigated.

Adding structured data does require coding, which development professionals can handle. However, the reward for implementing the data correctly and winning spot zero on a search results page is worth the effort.

About Author

Kristen Friend is a staff contributor for Bigger Law Firm Magazine. She has covered political stories on radio stations like WMNF in Florida and has had her work broadcast by Free Speech Radio News (FSNR). As an Award Winning Art Director, Kristen has been recognized by the WebAwards, Davey's Award, W3 Awards, Webby Awards, and others for her work with law firms.

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