New Schema Markup – Q&A Page and Speakable

Aaron Farr
By Aaron Farr

Schema markup (such as microdata and structured data) has been around for a long time. But, recently Google seems to have taken an interest in adding new types of schema markup to its lineup. There are currently over 28 main types of schema and many of them even have subtypes that further specify the information you wish to highlight to the search engines. An example of this includes local business subtypes such as: restaurant, day spa, health club, and so on. But that’s not all, there are many different types of structured data to enhance your website. There are even two SEO’s that have built a site purely to help provide valid examples of JSON-LD schema markup.

We highly suggest checking out their site Steal Our JSON-LD if you’re seeking validated and pre-made JSON-LD markup for your site. Speaking of JSON-LD schema markup, Google has actually stated that they now prefer this format. The three types that are common in the most popular search engines include: JSON-LD, microdata and RDFa. For this article, we’ll focus on some of the the newest members to the schema markup family – Speakable, Q&A Page and Top Places Lists, all of which are currently in the beta phase and pending official launch.

Let’s start out by saying that adding structured data to your pages can enhance how your information appears in the search engine results page (also known as SERP). This structured data allows search engines (like Google of course) to be able to crawl your page and understand the content and how to categorize it in the search results. You’ll need to follow Google’s recommendations for implementing structured data into your sites HTML, as there’s a unique process for each. This will also greatly increase your chances of showing up in Google Featured Snippets and Rich Snippets. Now, let us move on to the newest types of schema markup that Google has recently introduced and how your business may be able to leverage these features.

New Types of Schema Markup Speakable[beta]

We can start by talking about the new schema markup that we can actually hear being developed – the beta version of Speakable. This Schema.org property identifies sections within a website that are best suited for audio playback, specifically when using text-to-speech (TTS). By adding this Speakable markup search engines and connected devices can identify content and then read it aloud to the user. For example, Google Assistant uses Speakable structured data to answer news queries on smart speaker devices.

Adding this markup indicates that those sections can translate well in speech-to-text conversion. The Speakable property can be repeated and there are three types of “content-locator” values that can attributed: id-value (an element being annotated on the page), CSS selectors (addresses content in the annotated page) and XPaths (addresses content using the XPath property).

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Speakable would eventually provide users of devices such as Google Assistant with additional information. When we say “additional information” that means it will allow users to be provided with extra snippets of information verbally, in addition to the initial question that was asked of the smart device. With Speakable markup, Google Assistant can verify other information that’s relevant and suitable to deliver via speech.

Another piece of Speakable markup is creating content based actions for things like recipes, news articles or podcasts. By marking these items with the correct schema, they can then be available to anyone using Google smart devices such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo. Examples of schema markup and relevant properties that you can add to your site include: Article, NewsArticle, BlogPosting, recipeInstructions or recipeIngredients. Note: creating a podcast action requires additional documentation.

Q&A Page [beta]

Got a question? A Q&A page can help you. These pages contain data in a question and answer or Q&A format. This qualifies as one question followed by an answer or multiple answers to that question. For example, they can used be on pages that list frequently asked questions (FAQs), or how-tos, news sites, forums, and help and support message boards. If your content fits that description and represents a question and its answers, you can markup your data with the Schema.org types: QAPage, Question, and Answer.

The QA Page indicator should be used for pages that have information in question and answer form and are focused on a specific question and its answer(s). This is not intended to markup FAQ pages that contain multiple questions and answers. The Question type defines the question that the page answers; there should only be Question type per page. The Answer defines the accepted answers to the Question listed on the page. You can refer to the Google Developer resources for QA Page Schema to implement and test this new data type on your own site.

Pages that are properly marked up are then eligible for an expanded result to be displayed on the SERP. This expanded or “rich” result is referred to as a rich snippet. A rich snippet is an enriched organic search result that contains information very specific to the search query. It provides additional detail that you’ll find within that webpage without even clicking through. Rich snippets will appear anywhere within the SERP. Therefore, allowing users to interact with your content directly within search.

The new Q&A markup goes very well with Speakable because these types of answers will also feed into voice search. Devices such as a Google Home currently pull answers from both the snippets and answer boxes shown in SERPs – this pending Q&A markup would be another indicator for those smart devices to pull information that can then be delivered back to the user verbally.

Top Places List [beta]

I’m sure that each and every one of us use Google to search for a local place to eat, grab a drink or even do some sightseeing. Well, in Google’s Top Places List beta they’re taking the results that they provide to us a step further. The Top Places schema is used for geographical locations and displays themed lists so that users can browse through selections as they decide where to go. Because these places can become well known within a category – such as the best place to go for vegan food – various websites can recognize this and publish a theme-based list for that place.

This would appear within the SERP as “Top 10 vegan restaurants in San Diego.” Google developers provide this example for using and interacting with the Top Places List: If a user types The RedFarm restaurant NYC into their mobile device, Google Search results can display a number of lists that mention that restaurant, each of which is published by a different provider. Users can rest assured that these themed lists are curated by authoritative publishers and trusted sources.

Here, is the list provided by Google for the criteria you must meet for inclusion in the Top Places List feature, it should be:

  • Curated by the content provider, be genuine, independent, and not sponsored.
  • Not templated sentences built from data or automated metrics.
  • Free from vulgar or potentially offensive language.

If you’re a publisher, you can express interest for your lists to be included in Top Places directly through Google by completing their “express interest form” online.

What’s Next

As marketers, it’s important to stay in-the-know about the latest and greatest happenings surrounding SEO, schema, and really anything Google is working on. New schema markup is popping up a lot more frequently than in the past and there have been numerous mentions of using structured data to improve search results.

These new schema markup additions have the potential to impact how our businesses are found online, how we appear in the SERPs and the information that is provided via voice enabled smart devices, like Google Home and Assistant. As we’ve mentioned, with voice search, the evolution of machine learning and connected smart devices – you’ll need schema in place to up your chances that those devices can match your content to its voice queries. Therefore, making it a no-brainer to understand and plan for the future additions to Speakable markup, in particular.

Adding these types of structured data to your page can enhance the way you look in Google’s search results. And, the enhanced features we’ve discussed can determine your rank and placement in the featured snippet, page #1, top stories and more. More and more real estate is being occupied on page #1, pushing other results further down the page. If you’re proactive and take steps to optimize your already top-performing content – you can help to ensure you stay on that first page of results.

And now more than ever, it’s key to understand the benefits of implementing markup such as Q&A and Speakable, and its correlation to the success of our content. Stay tuned as Google continues to develop these beta versions and eventual launch for mass availability. As always, there’s sure to be more to come and new additions made to the schema family. We’ll keep checking back in with Google for any and all updates and provide with you the latest news, as soon we hear it.

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Aaron Farr is a Sr. SEO Specialist at Power Digital with a passion for Technical SEO. He was born in Washington State and moved to San Diego to go to college for web design and video editing. Aaron has 6 years experience with Fortune 500 companies and loves the fast pace and ever changing environment that comes with it. He specializes in Schema Markup, Robots and XML Sitemaps. When not at work he loves playing video games, making candles, up-cycling beer bottles into glasses, and having fun with his two kids.