“Google’s future is in voice searches“, said Pandu Nayak at the beginning of the year when interviewed by several italian newspapers, but maybe us readers and users were not expecting for that future to start so soon! Instead, right in these days, the californian company announced to have widen the use of the speakable markup to any kind of site, first unavoidable step towards the spreading of voice search.
What is the Speakable markup
Google’s official guide explains us what the speakable markup really is and why it is so important to voice searches: it is a schema.org feature that “identifies sections of a Web page that are particularly ‘speakable’ in the sense of being especially appropriate for text-to-speech conversion“. Basically, this kind of markup “allows search engines and other apps to identify contents to read out loud on devices enabling Google Assistant through speech synthesis”.
Not only limited to Google News anymore
The news emerged within a broader speech about some changes Google News is currently undergoing in the United States (and soon in other Countries and languages), and it was really Bill Slawski on twitter to open a focus on the speakable markup, asking if its functioning would be now extended to every site, indipendently from news search engine.
A guess immediately confirmed by Danny Sullivan, who indeed explains that the markup is “no longer restricted to news content” only, still stressing that “using Speakable markup on any site isn’t a guarantee that the Google Assistant will always use it” and that we should keep in mind it is a beta feature anyway.
How voice markup works
Up until now, in about a year of experimenting, Google used information including speakable structured data to answer to news requests on smart speakers; user can ask the Assistant news on a specific topic, receiving up to three articles from the Web, with an audio reproduction for the sections correctly “marked” in article. Furthermore, whenever Google Assistant “reads out loud a speakable section, it attributes the source to it and send the complete article URL to the user’s mobile device through the app”.
This featurre was only available, as previously mentioned, to those sites listed as publishers inside Google News, but now this limit has came down and all sites (at least the ones covering contemporary news, in this phase) can compete to appear among those results read out loud by the Assistant.
Why it is so important to both the sites and the SEO
This news is particularly relevant to all sites: first of all, it confirms us that voice search is a closer and closer reaching, if by now it already (as revealed by several studies) interests almost half of all consumers on a global scale. So to succeed in being present with our contents in one of the voice answer of the Goggle Assistant guarantees good credit to the site: if not as organic traffic, surely on a brand awareness and customer retention.
It is more and more important, then, to optimize contents for voice searches, by understanding which user questions are the most probable so to create texts that can effectively answer the search intent.
With speakable we have on control tool more, because it allows us to select the piece of content that could be provided to people: until now, Google used to almost randomly read the featured snippets diplayed on SERP, while from today on this feature should follow more certain paths and, indeed, in some way also more manageable by the sites’ editors.