Google Assistant Header Image

  • Google Assistant is now used by 500 million people per month and available in 90 countries.
  • Google will release “Read It” commands this year to initiate Assistant reading an entire blog, article or another long-form piece of content out loud. 
  • Google is making it easier for searchers to listen to longer content with “new voice datasets to create more expressive and more natural sounding voices.”  
  • Consumers can have long-form content translated and read aloud in 42 different languages.

Google is making it possible for searchers to listen to webpages with “Read It,” a text-to-speech capability coming later this year to Google Assistant. The technology, which uses machine learning and Google’s Neural Networks to create voices for long-form text-to-speech, was previewed at CES last month.

How might “Read It” impact multi-location brands, and is there anything you can do now to prepare for its imminent release? In this post, you’ll learn how enterprise local marketers may be using Google’s new text-to-voice capabilities later this year, why this is an exciting opportunity for global brands, and what you can do to get ahead of the game. 

What is Google “Read It?”

“Read It” is designed to solve for access to information for users, according to engineering project lead VP Yossi Matias. In the product introduction video, he said, “We’re constantly looking to remove barriers; to help people get the information they need in the way they need it. So I think it’s really exciting that today with conversational AI technology, we can get much closer to that mission.”

Google's Advancing Speech Technology with Google Assistant

Images source: A more helpful Google Assistant for your every day, Google Blog

Users can simply open a webpage in Google Chrome, their Google app, or in the Google News app and initiate the audio content being read aloud by saying “Hey Google, read it.”

Searchers can translate the written content into one of 42 available languages prior to issuing the verbal “Read It” command to hear the content in that language. They can also control the playback speed. 

What impact might Google “Read It” have on brands?

Google’s advancing speech technology is great news for multi-location brands, particularly those operating in markets with languages covered by the “Read It” translation service. 

Short answers such as FAQs are a great content format for answering the immediate needs of mobile users and voice searchers, as well as optimizing for non-traditional search results such as Instant Answers. But many consumers, especially in longer consideration cycles such as big-ticket purchases, want access to more in-depth information as they make their decision. 

Brands will be able to provide this longer-form content in one place and point to it from various Local Pages, individual locations’ Google Posts, social media, and more. For example, rather than writing a blog post, having it translated into 10 languages, and trying to determine which local blogs should publish which version (and coordinating the canonical URLs to prevent duplicate content issues) this new feature will simplify the process dramatically.

For all multi-location brands, “Read It” will allow you to make a single master, longer-form piece of content that answers the more in-depth questions consumers have as a seamless step on the path to conversion from a voice search. It removes the stop point that was the transition from audio to screen for longer-form content. 

Optimizing for long-form audio content will become a necessary facet of your voice search optimization strategy.

How can enterprise local marketers prepare for Google “Read It?”

Begin to strategize how you will adapt to this technology as you’re planning campaigns and content throughout 2020. 

  • Are there opportunities to reduce duplication of efforts and create efficiencies by taking advantage of Google’s translation of audio content?
  • How might the tone and style of your long-form content writing change when it will need to appeal to both audio listeners and visual readers?
  • Does your brand (or its locations) have existing content assets you will need to update and optimize for this new feature?
  • Will your calls-to-action or other conversion optimizations change as your longer-form content becomes multi-purpose?

Marketers will need to ensure they are educating users on how to use “Read It.” For example, a voice query could easily bring a consumer to one of your Local Pages where there’s a list of FAQs. You want to give those short answers that many searchers are looking for, but soon you’ll be able to offer them more information without it requiring that they change the way they’re interacting with the device (by going from voice to visual). 

You could add a single sentence to let users know that if they click this link, they can say “Read It” to hear the entire piece read to them out loud. You might also want to indicate this with a prompt on the long-form content page.

More resources

“Read It” will be available on Android phones with version 5 or above later this year. As the over 500 million active monthly Google Assistant users begin to explore this feature, brands with a proactive text-to-speech strategy have an opportunity to stand out. 

Want to learn more about future-proofing your local search strategy? Contact your Account Director or take advantage of a free Local Search Audit and the local search experts at Rio SEO will provide key insights for the optimization of your enterprise’s local presence.