What is Speakable Content?

Speakable content is text on your website that is optimized for voice assistants. That means it is written to be read out loud using text to speech. Marking web content as speakable for voice is the same idea as making it bold for display.

The markup that indicates that content is speakable is defined by an open web standard. The speakable specification is defined on schema.org. It tells us what markup to use to indicate when your web content is optimized for voice devices.

Why is Speakable Content Important?

The rapid adoption of voice devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home means that the number of web searches that are initiated by voice is rising quickly. Just as mobile device adoption drove the web to become responsive to smaller screens, smart speakers are driving us to become responsive to voice.

Users are asking their voice assistants questions. In fact it's the number one use case for smart speakers according to Jan 2019 Voicebot Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report. Many of these answers are already published on the web but may not be properly formatted for the voice assistants to find them.

Google has said that its search engines are aware of speakable markup. This means that some voice assistants are already looking to the web for answers. Voice assistants will preferentially use voice-optimized content in their responses so adding speakable content to your website can make you rank higher in voice-initiated searches.

Adding markup allows search engines and other applications to identify your content to read aloud on Google Assistant-enabled devices using TTS. Webpages with speakable structured data can use the Google Assistant to distribute the content through new channels and reach a wider base of users.

For the most part, no one knows exactly how all the different search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo are using speakable structured data. But we do know that search engines encourage the use of structured data in general and provide benefits like enriched search results to website that implement it properly.

Speakable News

One exception to this is the case of speakable news content for the Google Assistant on Google Home devices. If you are a Google News Publisher or Producer and you add speakable content to your news articles, the Google Assistant will read using TTS audio. Users trigger this using a phrase such as the following:

  • "What's the latest news about $topic?"
  • "What's the latest on $topic?"
  • "Play news about $topic."

If your publication has an article about the $topic mentioned, Google may select your speakable content as the response. The user will also receive card to his or her phone with a link to the full article. This is an incredible way for publishers to reach a new and wider audience.

How to Add Speakable Content

To add speakable content to your website you need to include both the SpeakableSpecification and the speakable markup. The SpeakableSpecification as defined by schema.org tells web crawlers which markup on your page indicates speakable content. Then you need to add the markup and the content. For optimal audio user experiences, Google recommends around 20-30 seconds of content per section of speakable structured data, or roughly two to three sentences.

1. Add Structured Data

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
    "@context": "http://schema.org",
    "@type": "WebPage",
    "speakable":{
        "@type":"SpeakableSpecification",
        "cssSelector":[".soundcheck-speakable"]
    }
}
</script>

2. Add Content

<p class="soundcheck-speakable">
    This paragraph is marked as speakable.
</p>

This is just one of many ways to set up your speakable markup. See our guide to adding speakable content for more examples.

Soundcheck WordPress Plugin

If you have a WordPress site, adding and validating speakable content is as easy as point, click, and type. The Soundcheck plugin for WordPress integrates directly with the new Gutenberg editor so you don't have to bother with structured data or custom markup.