Create a How-to Video Action using templates

Action templates let you create Actions without writing a single line of code. A how-to is a guide that provides sequential steps for completing a specific task, and this template lets you add your how-to video guides and their steps to a Google Sheet. Then, after completing these quick steps, you'll have a fully working Action that you can test and submit for approval.

When users invoke your Action, they can select one of your how-to guide videos. Users can watch your videos with the steps written out, and even tap specific steps to be taken to that part of the video.

Prerequisites

Before you start building a How-to video template Action, you'll need to review your content. The following guidelines apply to how-to videos for a template Action:

  • Your how-to guides must be available as videos on YouTube.

  • You must own all of the guide videos that you include in a How-to Video template Action, in accordance with our policies. You'll need to do the following for us to verify you own your how-to videos:

    • If your YouTube acount is branded, you must go through brand verification to connect the website associated with your YouTube account. Follow steps 1 and 7 under Build your Action below to verify you own your branded videos.

    • If your YouTube account is personal/non-branded, you must build your Action using the same Google account that you used for your YouTube account. Log in using your YouTube profile's Google account during step 2 under Build your Action below to verify you own your non-branded videos.

Build your Action

To build your Action using a How-to Video template, do the following:

  1. If your YouTube account is branded: Associate your website with your YouTube account to verify your video ownership by following step 2 in this support article.

  2. Go to the Actions Console and log in with your Google account.

  3. Click on Add/Import Project to create a new project.

  4. Give the project a name and click on Create Project.

  5. Under More options near the bottom of the page, pick Templates.

  6. Click on the How-to Videos option.

  7. If your YouTube account is branded: Click Advanced options > Brand verification and connect the website that's linked to your YouTube account. Learn more about connecting a website on the brand verification documentation.

  8. Click Build > Actions

  9. In the Fill in your content step, click on Get Started.

  10. Click on the Make a copy of the pre-filled Google Sheet for editing link and click Make a copy.

  11. Update the How To Content tab of your sheet with the details of each how-to guide. Note that you can add more rows if you want to include more than one video in your Action. Fill out the following information:

    • How To Guide Title - The titles of your how-to videos. These should be short (90 characters or less) and descriptive.

    • Summary - A short (135 characters or less) description of what the user will learn from each how-to guide.

    • Video URL - The full URL of the video for each how-to guide.

    • Alternative Search Queries (Optional) - Other phrases the user might use to describe each how-to guide, separated by | characters. For example, a guide on "how to build a house" may also be described as "how to construct a house" or "how to build a home", so its alternative search queries could be how to construct a house | how to build a home. These alternative queries are optional, but can help users discover your Action when they don't search for your exact guide title.

  12. Update the How To Steps tab of your sheet with the individual steps of each how-to guide. Each how-to guide should consist of multiple steps, and each row in this sheet corresponds to one step from one guide. Fill out the following information:

    • How To Guide Title - The how-to guide that each step corresponds to. This field is a drop-down selector with each guide title that you added on the How To Content sheet.

    • Step Number - Each step's number in the sequence of steps for each guide. For example, step one's step number should be 1. Multiple steps in this sheet can have the same step number, so the step number for step one in another guide should also be 1.

    • Step Title - A short (90 characters or less) summary of this step.

    • Step Timestamp - The timestamp (in "MM:SS" format) of this step in the how-to guide video. For example, if step two is described 49 seconds into the video, this field for that step should be 00:49.

    • Bullet points - Additional details of this step, broken out into up to three short (135 characters or less) summaries separated by | charaters. At a minimum, each step should have one bullet point describing the step in more detail than its title, but you can add more bullet points as needed.

      For example, if the step "take your furniture out of the packaging" could be described as "remove your chair parts from the box, and set the screws aside for later", then that step's bullet points could be Remove your chair parts from the box | Make sure to set the screws aside for later.

  13. When you finish filling out the sheet, go back to the Actions console and click Next to move on to the Upload content step.

  14. Copy and paste your Google Sheet's URL into the Add your sheet's URL to upload your content field and click Upload:

Edit the content of your Action

If you want to change your Action's content, first make the changes you need to your Google Sheet, then navigate to Build > Actions and re-upload your updated sheet.

Test your Action

Click on Simulator in the left column to test your Action via a web interface. To invoke your Action, say or type Talk to my test app in the simulator. You can also test your Action via Google Assistant on your phone if your device and Actions project are using the same Google account.

Submit your Action

When the Actions section is complete and you have tested your Action, you may submit your Action to Google for review. If your Action is approved, it will be available to Assistant users.

To submit your Action, do the following:

  1. Go to the Overview page for your project in the Actions Console.

  2. Navigate to Setup > Invocation.

    1. Invocation name: Enter your Action's invocation name. This name is how users invoke your Action.
    2. Directory title: Enter your Action's name for the directory. This name is presented to users in the Assistant Directory.
    3. Google Assistant voice: Pick which voice you would like your Action to use. You can hear audio samples of each voice on the Languages and Locales page.
  3. Navigate to Deploy > Directory information.

    1. Details: Add your Action's introduction, short description, and a full description that clearly explains what the Action is used for and what it does. Add Sample invocations, which
    2. Images: Add two images, one for the banner and one for the logo.
    3. Contact details: Add an email contact. Our review team uses this email address to give feedback on your Action. Users can also see this email address to contact you.
    4. Privacy and Consent: Add the URL to your Action's privacy policy. The privacy policy explains how you handle user data and appears publicly.

    5. Category: Select the most appropriate category for your Action to live under in the Assistant Directory.

    6. For Families: How-to Actions aren't eligible for the Actions for Families program, so set this to No.

    7. Alcohol and Tobacco: If your Action references alcohol or tobacco at all, select Yes.

    8. Testing Instructions: Add any specific testing instructions if required. These are only visible to our review team. Generally, for Actions that you build with the how-to template, you can leave this blank.

    9. Transaction: Template Actions don't perform Transactions, so you can leave this blank.

  4. Navigate to Deploy > Release.

  5. If there are any error messages on the top, you should follow the instructions provided to address the issue. Otherwise, click Submit for production.

Troubleshooting

If your Action isn't working, see if you're running into one of the issues below and try following the recommended troubleshooting steps:

  • It looks like something went wrong in the upload process

    If you see this error message when you try to upload your sheet, go back to your sheet's contents and make sure you didn't change any content other than row 4 and below. If you're stuck, try making another copy of the How-to Video template and copy-paste in your content from the older sheet, then upload the new sheet.

  • Failed to get conversion

    If you see this error, refresh the web page and try again.

  • Request Access Error

    You might see a screen requesting access permission when you try to access the pre-filled template content sheet. If this occurs:

    1. Log out of all Google accounts and close all browsers.
    2. Reopen your browser and log back in with the account that you're using for your Actions Console project.
    3. If the error message persists, try using Incognito mode in Chrome.
  • Simulator Not Responding

    If the simulator doesn't show the Test or Authorize button, refresh the web page and try again.