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Analysis of Google’s New Schema Speakable Markup

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Roger Montti
Roger Montti SEJ STAFF
Analysis of Google’s New Schema Speakable Markup

Google announced official support for the Schema.org Speakable specification.

The speakable specification will help Google Assistant and Google Home choose which content to read aloud.

This new structured data markup is important because it may point to what you’ll need to know to get more traffic should/when Google expands this structured data to all websites.

Beyond News Content

The support for this new markup is currently limited to News content. However, it is likely that support for the speakable attribute will inevitably expand as Google gains experience with this new structured data markup.

It’s important to understand how Google uses this new markup, how the algorithm chooses results to speak and how this markup may in the future apply to your business.

Who is Eligible to be Heard on Google Assistant

This program is currently in Beta. The beta Speakable specification is limited to Google Home devices in the United States and in English.

In my opinion, this is in a limited beta because it’s a prelude toward wider adoption to other forms of speakable content, such as web pages. Google doesn’t indicate whether they will expand the Speakable specification beyond news, but it doesn’t seem far fetched to conclude Google may do so in the future.

Here is what Google states:

“In order to fulfill news queries with results people can count on, we collaborated on a new schema.org structured data specification called speakable for eligible publishers to mark up sections of a news article that are most relevant to be read aloud by the Google Assistant.”

How Does Google Assistant Choose Speakable Content?

Google Assistant chooses speakable content based on an algorithm. How the algorithm works is not public knowledge. However, for news content, it is not unreasonable to assume that it is likely evaluating the spoken request against currently trending news topics, then selecting from those.

Thus, it may be very important to be precise about what a particular news article is about when describing the content in associated Schema.org structured data. That is likely more important than the Speakable specification.

The Speakable specification only tells Google Assistant what part of the article to read. For ranking purposes, it may be productive to focus on getting the Article type markup and the associated specifications and properties correct.

How Speakable Fits With News Content

Within the context of news, the Speakable specification is a part of the official Article type. https://schema.org/Article

Here’s how Schema.org defines the Article type:

“An article, such as a news article or piece of investigative report. Newspapers and magazines have articles of many different types and this is intended to cover them all.”

And here is how the Speakable specification is described:

“Indicates sections of a Web page that are particularly ‘speakable’ in the sense of being highlighted as being especially appropriate for text-to-speech conversion. Other sections of a page may also be usefully spoken in particular circumstances; the ‘speakable’ property serves to indicate the parts most likely to be generally useful for speech.”

Definition of the Speakable Specification

The speakable definition is currently a pending Schema.org structured data markup specification.

Although Google has announced official support for it, the actual specification is defined in an extension.

It is officially pending and not yet integrated into the core vocabulary.

This is why the official URL currently uses the pending subdomain: http://pending.schema.org/speakable

Speakable Specification is Pending

Interestingly, Schema.org labels the speakable specification as pending. So it’s a little curious that Google is moving ahead to make it official for use for news publications.

How Schema.org defines the Speakable Specification:

“The term ‘SpeakableSpecification’ is not in the schema.org core vocabulary, but is defined in an extension:
pending: SpeakableSpecification”

How Google’s developer support page defines the Speakable specification:

Speakable is used by the Article or Webpage object. It’s defined by schema.org, where you can find the full list of all supported properties.”

The link in the above statement is to the official Schema.org URL http://pending.schema.org/speakable

The Schema.org canonical URL is https://schema.org/SpeakableSpecification, where it currently states that the specification is pending.

Will Speakable Be Used Beyond News?

The Speakable specification can currently be used within many contexts.

Here is a list of contexts where the Speakable specification can be used:

Although Schema.org is rolling out the Speakable specification beyond the context of News, this does not mean that Google will use it. But it may indicate where the future of the Speakable attribute is headed.

Will Google adopt the Speakable specification beyond the context of News?

If the users have a use for speakable web content, then it can only be inevitable that Google will embrace additional contexts for the Speakable structured data.

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Roger Montti

Roger Montti is an SEO Consultant with nearly 20 years of experience. I specialize in Site Audits to help sites ... [Read full bio]

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