Voice searches are the key to SEO of the future, and publishers need to start optimising their content for text-to-speech delivery. Here we explain the basics of using the Speakable markup and its implementation.

The impact of Google Assistant on SEO

In the US, one-third of the population already use voice-enabled devices, with 71% preferring voice search to typing in a search query. As Google Assistant becomes the go-to for online searches via mobile devices and smart speakers, Speakable snippets are something SEO strategists won’t be able to ignore.

The implications of voice search on SEO are far-reaching, since the way we speak is very different from the way we write, and therefore key search terms are likely to be very different. A new approach to keywords will be needed to capture this audience.

Google is responding to the voice search trend by expanding its Speakable schema.org markup to cover more content.

What is the “Speakable” schema.org markup for Google Assistant?

When Google first introduced the Speakable markup, it was limited to Google News articles only. But now it’s being rolled out to any webpage or article snippets that are suitable for audio playback using text-to-speech (TTS).

As it is still in a BETA stage, the markup currently only works for publishers who publish in English and for users in the USA who have Google Home devices set to English. However, Google is planning to expand to other countries and languages in the future, so this is something all publishers should prepare for.

When voice searches are used to ask queries on smart devices, the Google Assistant offers up to three news stories and will read aloud a section from each result using the Speakable structured data. It will then attribute the source of each article and supply the URL to the users’ mobile device on the Google Assistant app.

By adding the Speakable markup to your page, you enable search engines to read your content aloud on Google Assistant-enable devices, giving you access to a wider audience through voice-only channels as well as traditional SERPs.

How Google’s “Speakable” markup works

Schema.org is a way for Google to rank your webpage on featured snippets. Google uses the markup to interpret the context of your page content, so it can be featured in the most appropriate search results. Since words can have any number of meanings, Google works hard to understand the nuances behind the text.

Featured snippets have become an important part of SEO strategy since they occupy position 0 on the SERP. Being ranked for snippets will increase the visibility of your page and give it credibility that can greatly enhance your click-through rate.

The Speakable schema.org markup indicates a short section of your webpage that summarises the content on the rest of the page. The selected snippet must be suited to TTS delivery, as well as hitting all the key criteria for featured snippets, such as being concise and informative.

How to implement the Speakable markup on your website

To use the “Speakable” Schema.org markup on your website, you should create a segment that is suitable for TTS, rather than highlighting the whole article.

Effective Speakable content needs to be:

  • 20-30 seconds of spoken content - around two or three sentences only.
  • Stand-alone – avoid photo captions or source attributions.
  • Focused on the key points – your section should summarise the content of the article.
  • Suitable for TTS - it must sound natural in spoken format and not be confusing to a listener.
  • Short sentences - these read more clearly for TTS.
  • Concise headlines – to help make the summary easier to digest.

Example of Speakable Structured data

The best way to understand how to use the markup is to look at an example from Google:

<html><br />
  <head><br />
    <title>Speakable markup example</title><br />
    <meta name="description" content="This page is all about the quick brown fox" /><br />
    <script type="application/ld+json">
     "@context": "https://schema.org/",
     "@type": "WebPage",
     "name": "Quick Brown Fox",
      "@type": "SpeakableSpecification",
      "xpath": [
     "url": "https://www.example.com/quick-brown-fox"
    </script><br />
  </head><br />
  <body><br />
  </body><br />

Here are some elements to consider, all found between the tags:

  1. “@type” - You might choose to change this from Webpage to Article. Both are compatible with Speakable but have slightly different properties.
  2. “name” – This is the name of the webpage or article and is a great place to include keywords. However, you’ll want to avoid keyword stuffing.
  3. Speakable markup - the “@type” will need to be SpeakableSpecification, and this can be repeated multiple times. Then you can use one of three content-locator values to identify which area of the text the Google Assistant should use for the markup:
  4. In Google’s example above, they use xpaths to identify the title and meta description from earlier on the page.

  5. “URL” – This should link to the URL of your article or webpage.

Be prepared for Speakable SEO

Whilst Google’s Speakable is still in its early stages, there’s little doubt that TTS content has a big part to play in the future of SEO. Implementation of schema.org can be tedious and time-consuming, so make sure your content is well adapted to TTS to make your efforts worthwhile.