Cindy Krum on passage ranking, PWA, voice search and the new SEO tools of MobileMoxie

 
Joost de Valk

Joost de Valk

Founder & Chief Product Officer
Cindy Krum

Cindy Krum

Founder & CEO of MobileMoxie
Or listen this podcast on

In this episode

Cindy Krum, Founder & CEO of MobileMoxie, and Joost talk about the ever-changing field of SEO. Luckily, both these experts are never out of fresh innovative ideas for SEO. For example, they talk about passage ranking, PWA in search results, a JSON-LD only version of a URL and voice search. Listen to this episode if you want to get inspired and discover their take on the SEO future.

Topics

  • 1:18 – Passage ranking: Google indexing text fragments
  • 4:02 – Progressive Web App (PWA) in search results
  • 8:26 – Making indexed information accessible for all languages
  • 11:52 – Cindy’s take on the future of SEO
  • 14:06 – All about MobileMoxie’s (new) tools
  • 16:07 – The benefits of MobileMoxies ‘page-oscope’
  • 19:18 – How coders help Google by adding markup
  • 22:52 – The importance of Core web vitals
  • 25:56 – New idea: a JSON-LD version for a URL
  • 29:30 – Why everyone, including big brands, should use WordPress
  • 30:57 – The future of voice search
  • 34:45 – New idea: Markup the first paragraph of news articles as speakable

Do you want to learn more about Cindy and her company? Follow Cindy on Twitter or visit the MobileMoxie website.

Transcript

Joost de Valk: Hey everyone. And welcome to another Yoast SEO podcast. I’m joined today by my friend, a long-time friend by now I can say. I think we’ve been in this industry for too long to get her: Cindy Krum. Who is the CEO of MobileMoxie and mobile tools. Am I saying that correctly?

Cindy Krum: The CEO of MobileMoxie and we have mobile tools. 

Joost de Valk: Awesome. Yeah, that’s good. So can you tell us a bit about what MobileMoxie does? 

Cindy Krum: Yeah so we’ve been around since 2008, but I’ve been doing SEO since before then. But MobileMoxie has mobile SEO tools and now we’ve added desktop. So desktop SEO tools as well. They have names that people really liked: the SERPerator and the page-oscope and the app rankalizer and yeah, they capture mobile views of pages and the source code and show you progress over time.

So for instance, like with the page-oscope, if you work with a huge team that’s updating the website without telling you, you can see when the change went live and look at the code differences between and see it as mobile. So the more that things move to the edge and the cloud it gets harder and harder to audit pages cCause not all the tools do it properly, so we help with that. 

Passage ranking: Google indexing text fragments. 

Joost de Valk: Cool. Yeah, I will give you the thing on naming. The best name that you’ve come up with is probably also a topic that we’re going to spend too much time on today is, and I actually remember you coining it, I think, because this was a STTR Fest where you talked about Fraggles. Can you explain this to people? Because I don’t know if I still got it to be honest. 

Cindy Krum:  Yeah. So the concept of Fraggles was basically it’s the word fragment plus the word handle. So a fragment of text and a handle or a jump link. And what I saw was that Google seemed to be adding jump links into the search results, where there were no actual jump links in the page code.

So Google was able to overlay a jump link and get people directly to a piece of content. And that seemed to me to be fundamental to changing how Google indexes things. Because for so many years, the smallest increment that Google could index was a page, a full page. And so we worried about diluting the main keyword and not having a good enough focus, but now if Google can take pieces of a page, then maybe those concerns go away. We’re not diluting it or we’re adding richness to it. If it has multiple topics, perhaps. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. And how does that relate to URLs in your head? 

 Cindy Krum: So what Google said, so Google doesn’t call them Fraggles. Google calls them passages now. But what they’ve said is that the Fraggles aren’t indexed independently of the URL, they’re indexed with the URL.

So it’s just a deeper piece that Google knows, this is the whole page and then it has pieces that can rank for other keywords. So it’s a segmentation of a page. 

Joost de Valk: Okay. Yeah, I, in my mind, this is still hard. But thus, because I am far too old fashioned and everything for me is URL based and things die because of that.

 At the same time, I do see what you’re seeing as well.  And passage ranking, they’re talking about that and it does make a lot of sense as in all the linguistics stuff that they’ve done over the last few years. They have been talking about all these factors and how they look at that.

And it really is a lot about paragraphs and passages. It ties in very nicely to something that Marieke has actually been talking about a lot, which is that people should be writing proper paragraphs that are about one topic. I’m like, yeah, you’re probably right. This was a readability thing and it’s now becoming an SEO thing for exactly the same reasons probably.

Progressive Web App (PWA) in search results. 

But all of these tie together in an area that you’ve been working in before all of us did. And like the PWA surfers workers, everything around that. What is happening in that world? I look at PWAs and I still don’t see all that much day to day use of it. But that is changing a bit over time it seems. 

Cindy Krum: Yeah, it does feel a lot like PWAs have slowed down and Google has stopped pushing them as hard as they were. And I think it might be because Google was really organizing almost too heavily around PWA being so great. And look at all these other features you can have immediate One-click check in, One-click login, One-click checkout, all of this stuff. But then that relied on a Google backend that was Google pay or Android pay and a lot of authentication.

So I think it’s a mix of some of the browsers that weren’t as wild about that. And then all the evolution of the privacy concerns has reoriented Google. They’re trying to appease everyone, but still lean hard on their technology and push it along with PWA as making PWA easier.

But I think it’s still important. And actually it may just be a pivot because, the fragmentation of the index seems critical as a work around for indexing apps as well, or if you think about a single page app or a single page PWA where it all uses one URL. If Google’s able to overlay a unique identifying link where there was none, then that makes app indexing an app in the broadest sense of the word much easier for them. And especially when you add rendering in. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah, so they can send you straight into a specific page in an app

Cindy Krum: Into a specific screen because apps don’t have pages. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah, sorry. But then you could link in the search results to a recipe inside an app on a specific screen for instance.

Cindy Krum: Deep-linking and Google could do it potentially for you, they could index the app, especially with the heavier focus on the second phase of indexing, which is rendering. If they can render the screen and then Parson and overlay a link, then they might’ve solved the problem that PWA was helping themselves. 

Joost de Valk:  Yeah. Now, if you’re listening to this and you’re thinking this is way too hard, how does this affect normal websites. Is this something that only really big businesses should be thinking of, or is this something that applies to everyone.. 

Cindy Krum: That’s a good question. If listeners are listening and they’re totally confused, then it might just not apply. But it’s mostly applicable to companies who have big budgets and are trying really new cutting edge things and have the energy and budget to try these things and watch.

And hopefully Google will do all the follow through. But we know Google sometimes starts projects and then pauses them for a long time. So it’s not meant for the small business SEOs who are working on a super duper limited budget and one developer. It’s meant more for the big enterprise companies who have flexibility in budgets and testing, and really want to be on the cutting edge of things. But it’s good to know, for anyone. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah, absolutely. And I think PWA in itself already has some applications that are very doable in WordPress. Even with a Google sufficient PWA plugin for WordPress, you can turn your WordPress site into a very bare bones I might add, PWA like that, but it gives you some advantages, but they’re very minor.

I think the really cool stuff is only for all the happy few in, in many ways. Related to that. And this is a topic that I can’t get Jono to shut up about, my colleague Jonno for those listening. He’s on the AMP advisory board, but he talks a lot about bento AMP or basically taking pieces of that.

Is that something you’re playing with as well? 

Cindy Krum: Not really. It’s a bit like Gutenberg, right? Where things are different and that fits perfectly with the fragmentation of indexes. 

Making indexed information accessible for all languages.

Joost de Valk: Yeah, no, it is. When we look at it, it’s awesome because AMP has some great ideas and some not so great ideas. And we’d like to be able to just use the great ideas and not the, not so great ones.

And it seems like we’ll soon get there. You were one of the very first people. I think it was at the same conference at the time that talked about: “Hey, if they can do this, then they can do stuff with the Knowledge Graph”. That is well, basically language agnostic. Can you explain what that means? And well, they’ve actually just rolled it out. So you were right and on the mark there. But can you explain what that means? 

Cindy Krum:  Yeah. Sure. So when Google is able to take fragments of the index, take pieces. Then it’s much easier for them to get a good translation of it. And my idea was what if there’s really great information that’s written in one language, like a smaller language, like I’d say Dutch.

But brilliant stuff is written in Dutch and I’m searching for something on that topic, but I don’t have the right keywords cause I’m searching in English. That would be sad. And that would limit the transmission of information and maybe someone’s solved cancer, but they can’t find it. They can’t surface it. So I think this is one of the problems that Google is trying to solve. 

Joost de Valk: All right, yeah. I don’t think this happens in Dutch because we all speak English. But this does probably happen in a lot of other languages. To be fair. We’re also, most of us at least. We are so fluent in English that we just started blogging in English, as I did too.

But what we’ve seen recently is that they started just literally translating Knowledge Graph panels and all these other things. So they are doing that right now. When I Googled my own name, which of course I do because I’m like that. I get that in Dutch now, I get a translated English page showing up at my knowledge panel. It’s really weird what that empowers. Do you get that actually in the U S do you get results from other languages or is that purely to, 

Cindy Krum: I haven’t seen it as much. I’ve seen it the other way. Where if you set a phone language to English and then you’re searching in English, you’ll get the English translation. But then you change your phone language to be Dutch and you get it in Dutch.

So Google is trying to match the intent of the searcher based on what their settings are in the phone or in the search engine. 

Joost de Valk: If I can switch gears a bit. In all those recent announcements, Google has also said a lot about opening up shopping features to a lot of different platforms.

Does that tie into this in a way, because that looks very similar?

Cindy Krum: Yeah, absolutely. Google wants to open up markets and get products being sold wherever they could be purchased. And so Google did a project. I’m trying to think of it. There was a name where they were testing out where you would let them tell you what your site is classified for.

And then they would tell you the potential market growth you could have if you were also advertising in Japan and then there’s a huge market share for this in China. And so they were trying to use it as a selling thing to say, we can translate your ads, we can translate your keywords, let us handle it. And we’ll make you loads of money in ads.

Joost de Valk: Yeah. And of course they always say that she should advertise, but when did he tell you that what you really should be doing is doing SEO. It is funny with all those changes in advertising lately and tracking, you actually mentioned that yourself, that the new privacy regulations. It seems as though SEO has become more popular than ever before.

Cindy’s take on the future of SEO. 

And I’m looking at it and I’ll go: We’ve heard SEO is dead every other year now. And it seems to be going in exactly the opposite direction. How are you looking at that? Is your market doing well? 

Cindy Krum: I think that SEO has become a term that most marketers know, whereas when we started it absolutely was not.

And so everyone is saying let’s do SEO, but I don’t know if everyone is saying it actually means it. And I think SEO has changed so much and especially on mobile. Ranking in position one could be anywhere from the top to the middle of the page. And I feel like this doesn’t get enough attention.

 SEOs are blindly happy with a position to rank. And the blue links aren’t driving the same amount of clicks or visibility as they used to. It’s the interactive results that are really getting clicks and people love interactive stuff. So they love”people also ask”, and expanders on Knowledge Graph or ‘plus-boxes’ or any kind of disambiguation, all that stuff is more finger friendly for mobile searches then a blue link.

Joost de Valk: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And for you or for your customers they would all probably have the majority of their traffic come from mobile. Because we are one of those very weird sites. Yoast.com is one of the weirdest sites on the planet because 95% of our traffic is desktop traffic.

But that’s because everyone who comes to our site is working on their WordPress site and you don’t do that on mobile. So our own site is something that I can use as a reference for a lot of things, but not for this. So I don’t know.

 Cindy Krum: People who are using our tools are doing work for their job.

 And so they’re sitting at their computer. So it’s actually a disproportionately high amount of desktop traffic to our website. 

All about MobileMoxie’s (new) tools

 Joost de Valk:  Let’s talk about these tools because you are always building new tools. What are you building right now? Can you give us some secrets on cool stuff you’re working on?

Cindy Krum: Yeah, absolutely. The SERParator is the tool that gets the most attention. It allows you to choose a phone, choose any phone and search as if you were standing anywhere and get real life Google results. So Google thinks that we’re phones. So for instance, if you were searching for a restaurant in Tokyo, presumably you would get the restaurants, but they would say closed because of the time zones.

I’m not sure what time it is in Tokyo. But it matches exactly, it’s not a cashed result. It’s not through a secret API. It’s exactly what a real person standing at that address would get. And so we’ve built that functionality out quite a bit, and we allow you to do the same thing. Daily, weekly or monthly we parse the results and tell you actual rank and traditional rank. Actual ranking counts everything, including ads and including things that Google pretends don’t exist that take up space and also shows pixel height.

 And the good thing about that one is you don’t actually have to own the website to track it. You can put your competitors in there and stuff like that. Parse it all. And then we give you what we call the Moxie score, which is like, how much of the surf do you own and we let you claim anything in the surf.

So if you have the ads, claim those, if you have your Facebook results pages, claim it. If you’re mentioned in a top 10 article, that’s good for you, right? So you can claim all those things, as you. And we give you a Moxie score, which is how visible are you and how much Moxie do you have on this surf? And we track all those things and we can graph all those things over time, including the pixel height of the position, and we can pull in the Search console and all that stuff. 

Joost de Valk: That is pretty awesome. I’ve honestly not played with this enough and I’m sorry, Cindy.

The benefits of MoblieMoxies ‘page-oscope’

Cindy Krum: Quickly, the page-oscope is the other tool that the SEOs like. And that’s the one that captures just any page on the web. And if you have developers making changes that they don’t tell you about, it’ll capture it daily, weekly, or monthly. And it also captures the source code and the rendered code and gives you a difference checker.

 And we’re adding in some functionality to highlight when major changes happen. And adding also in a natural language API and a couple other things to show you what entities pop up on the page. So you can see when you lose entity understanding or when you gain it. 

Joost de Valk: That’s something that not a whole lot of people use yet, but probably should.

And at the same time, have you found a way to explain that concept easily to people that don’t get it?

 Cindy Krum: I usually give them the mother example. So mother, there are different words for mother in every language, but it’s about relationships. So a mother always has a child or a daughter, a son or a husband. And so even though the word may change, the relationships stay the same. Yup. 

Joost de Valk: Okay. And so that’s what an entity is but how do you tie an entity to a page? 

 Cindy Krum: Google helps or at least Google the sides when you’ve tied the entity to the page. Google evaluates the language on the page and evaluates sentiment. What does it mean? Is it positive or negative? And determines what it thinks the page is about. And if you’re trying to relate a page to a specific entity, there are things you can do in schema that help. For instance, if you’re a company having sameAS schema that helps Google understand that Yoast SEO is this company and Yoast SEO his Facebook is right here and Yoast SEO’s LinkedIn is here, and that these are all the same company. And we’ve tried some other creative stuff with the same as schema linking to, let’s say videos that include me, but are not by me that are owned by someone else. Limited success, but I think that will grow over time. I think that Google is looking for any kind of way to understand when they can create or consolidate an idea or like an entity.

Sometimes I think of it as like a Canonical. If I can get all of the Cindy Krum stuff to associate with me, my picture, the idea of me and my Knowledge Graph, then that’s great. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. It’s funny that that topic keeps popping in, because every recording we do at the moment, because everybody’s playing with: how do these relationships work and how do we actually influence it?

We’d look at it from a slightly different perspective than most other SEOs, us being me and Jono, because we are actually looking at it from: Hey, we can change a couple of million sites at a time. How can we make these changes and help Google understand this a bit better?

 Cindy Krum: Well, with our Moxie score. I’m trying to understand entities better, right? Because people say this is me. And so then I can have a database of who’s associated with what. 

Joost de Valk: And then you can actually use that to reverse engineer it the other way around as well.

How coders help Google by adding markup

Yeah, no, that is very smart. We look at a lot of that data. We recently added some features to Yoast SEO that makes it  able to create your profiles a bit better in schema so that people can put; the rewards and the languages they know and stuff like that into the scheme on a page.

It’s really funny to see how quickly Google picks up some of that and how they seem to be completely unable to pick up some of the other stuff. This is really hard to understand what they’re doing. But what scares me most about all of these relations is the parts where Google infers relations from data that someone does not have.

 So one day your person’s texts and Google saying, yeah, this is probably the same person as that person. That’s just, is that something they could do on mobile as well? It probably is on their entity recognition and then doing that all manually or sorry, automatically and thus not having any control.

Cindy Krum: Absolutely. I think Google is trying to use us as an unpaid army. Coders to markup everything we can with schema. And then it’s going to take what it learns from our schema and apply it to the stuff that doesn’t have schema yet. And they’ve been very more and more open about this.

So at Google I/O this year, they talked about what’s called clips markup.If you have a video, you can add clips markup to say, when are certain sections of the video and put the timestamps in there. But in the next slide in the Google I/O presentation. They were like, that’s a cliff markup and this is seek markup.

Where we do it automatically. And that hasn’t launched yet, but it will soon. And it was like they almost said it.

 Joost de Valk: . Yeah. We are literally providing them a training set so they can do it themselves after that. Yeah. It’s what we do. It’s fun. I mentioned this when I was talking to Lily Ray recently on the podcast that they’ve been asking for GTINs and NPNs et cetera for products for a while now. And pushing hard on people putting out those numbers and then you see them come out with new shopping features and you go oh, that’s what you needed that for.

Cindy Krum: Yeah, exactly. And all of the merchant center stuff where they’re now taking merchant center feeds, but they don’t have to be funded. They can be just a spreadsheet of your product as a feed that you just put in and then they can understand exactly what products you have and that gives it more likelihood that you’re going to at least be included in, what I’ve been calling “Products Knowledge Graph”. I’m not sure what Google is calling this. But this is the thing, and here are all the stores that we know that sell it. And here are the prices that they have, and here are the colors that it comes in. And I think that retailers aren’t going to love that because it’s going to push prices down, but users are going to love it. 

Joost de Valk: Hey, users are going to love it, but it’s ultimate capitalism. And that it’ll drive revenues to absolutely zero. Alright profits, at least not revenues.But it is interesting when you look at that, that they are able to move us like that as a community of SEOs and side builders, because we all like that traffic too much, basically.

 And not doing it, as one or two sites, is not going to make a difference because others are doing it. 

The importance of Core web vitals

Cindy Krum: Can I ask you a question? How big do you think this core web vital stuff is going to be? 

 Joost de Valk: First of all, core web vitals is Jono’s territory and I try not to get into it. It’s funny. More and more, and actually the other day John Mueller was tweeting about this. This is a concept I talk about a lot in our company is premature optimization. It’s something that happens in development all the time, because people are like, yeah, but if this and that happens then we need to do this.

So they built all these extra fallbacks into code that aren’t needed. And people do this SEO and I think that is very important to realize that core web vitals is going to make some difference in very high, competitive results. But I don’t see it make a very big difference in low competitive results. And with that, it probably won’t make a difference on a whole lot of search results. 

Cindy Krum: I disagree, in my mind I’m equating it to HTTPS. But I think if Google wanted us to do it and do it well, it really mattered. They wouldn’t have created so many tools that give so many scores that change all the time and are super variable. Like they’re just trying to terrify everyone. 

 Joost de Valk: I don’t know whether it’s that. What I think mostly it’ll be like HTPS, but also HTPs in the long run. So it won’t make a difference in six months, all that much. But years from now, if your site’s still slow, it will probably be a huge problem. If your site now is not on HTTPS,  you have a problem, right?

 Not just in ranking, but in user trust. And I think that’s the same for core web vitals. If they succeed and actually make the whole web faster then the reason why your site needs to be fast is because you’re slow in comparison to your competitors. Not because you’re not reaching a certain number in one of the tools.

Cindy Krum: But I think that they’re calling it the experience update because they can’t in good conscience call it the user experience update, because it’s all about the bot experience. It’s all about making stuff hold still so that they can snap the picture and OCR it basically. 

Joost de Valk: They should call it the CO2 update because it is very much about them saving energy on crawling the web 

Cindy Krum: Well, and that’s the generous interpretation. Saving energy, but also saving money.

Joost de Valk: No. Yeah. And the funny thing is, we worked with Google’s WordPress team that they have on adding XML sitemaps to WordPress core. We had XML sitemaps in Yoast SEO, and those are great. But we want the main WordPress core so that every WordPress site on the planet has XML sitemaps. Because 62% of WordPress sites don’t have an SEO plugin.

And I was thinking about why would they want that? The only reason I can come up with is crawl efficiency.

New idea: a JSON-LD version for a URL

Cindy Krum: It’s exactly true. I’ve been saying, and I know Jono has too, that if you could just hand Google Jason LD documents instead of your website, that’s what they would prefer. They don’t actually want to crawl.

They want to ingest things in API and that’s why they have that merchant center thing. That’s why they have the jobs indexing API and everything will eventually move towards, maybe not become, but start to look more like an API indexing process with natural validation, with a crawling validation.

What I talked about last week is that with serverless development and all of the progression that’s happening in development, the cost to create a really complicated but fantastic website. The number of people cost and time has gone way, way down. So there’s less disincentive for people to create loads and loads of content and Google is still expected to crawl and index at all.

And so they’re trying to get ahead of the game and figure out number one. It’s faster for us just to render the page and scrape it than it is to push through all that heavy code? Or where, and when do we need to just create a new experience and encourage that. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah, it is. It’s funny. So John and I are pretty active on GitHub for schema.org. And there was an active discussion there about how we can serve schema in another way than just as a Jason LD blop on a page because those blops of schema become quite big at a certain point. So if you look at my personal blog, Joost and then go slash question mark schema. You can basically put “question mark schema” after every URL on my blog and you’ll get the schema version of that page. And all you get is schema. And we are looking if this is something that Google would like. Is this something that they would like to do? Because we can just give them an alternate version of that URL that just outputs schema.

That’s very simple in our architecture of Yoast SEO right now and actually talking about this with Dan Brickley from schema, because he’s very interested in the concept. I think that’s one of the things where SEOs need to look at it and realize how much schema is becoming a true representation of everything that’s on the page.

Cindy Krum: That’s super cool. And in the app world there. Basically app indexing site maps called episodes association files, and it’s similar. And I think that they’ll build it out and continue to build it out where you can put schema to help Google find and know when to create a link..

Joost de Valk: Yeah. There’s a lot of stuff going on there. There’s also a discussion in another issue, but they’re all related to each other. It’s like, how can we really make cross URL referencing and schema a thing, because JSON-LD supports that, but Google doesn’t support it. So we’re now talking about how we can put the homepage schema? Or the organization schema for an organization purely on the homepage of a website, because that would save so much traffic already. So there’s a lot of these things that are, yeah. That they’re doing cool things with.

Why everyone, including big brands, should use WordPress

Related to that, how many of your customers are using WordPress?

Cindy Krum: Maybe one or two.

Joost de Valk: So that’s not a whole lot, but that you work for mostly big brands, right? 

Cindy Krum: Really big companies. Yeah. So they do their own thing. 

Joost de Valk: Yeah. But do you have a lot of discussions inside those companies on building their own or are, or choosing something like WordPress? 

Cindy Krum: We have some, so I’m working with a company that’s just getting started.

 And they said, okay what blog software should we use? And I said, WordPress. And they said, oh God, why? And I said, it’s probably the best for what you guys need in the long run. And Google knows how to crawl and index it. And I knew that, like you guys talked to WordPress and Google talks to WordPress, like we may as well.

 Joost de Valk: That’s the thing, right? Even for those big brands. It just has to be very hard to keep paying money to make changes that would have cost you absolutely nothing if you were on WordPress. 

 Cindy Krum:  Exactly. And even if you’re just hiring writers or content creators to try and teach them a platform, that’s not, WordPress is extra time and effort and energy. But most people in that line of work can do WordPress

Joost de Valk: Yeah. So that’s good to hear, that’s job security for me. Not that I needed it, but it’s good to hear anyway. 

The future of voice search

So what do you think is the thing that people in SEO should really be focusing on right now? What should they be learning about? 

Cindy Krum: So we’ve been pushing really hard on… I’m trying to decide if you’re going to think this is cool or not. So we’ve been pushing hard on speakable schema because it’s really easy to do. And I think whether or not SEOs believe it, or tease me, or joke about voice search. I do think that it’s going to be revolutionary. And I don’t think Google is going to give up on it. But I think that the way that people think about it is slightly wrong.

People think about voice search as like yelling a keyword at a device, and that’s not how it’s going to be. It’s going to be more conversational and it’s going to be micro tasks, which is great for the way that things are evolving in development, where everything is becoming software as a service or individual functions as a service and individual kinds of pieces of the cloud that do certain things.

And Google’s prepared for that. They’ve done all of the work to make their virtual assistants and connected devices, internet of things work well and fast and all that. But speakable schema is basically how to FAQ and Q&A. And I think that those are the things that Google is looking for to bring into its other surfaces.

And so I’m pushing on it because I think that people get potential benefits for being an early mover and marking up there’s stuff with that schema. But also we’re seeing massive payouts in the search results. Now in a traditional or a mobile search result, when you have a FAQ schema on a page, it could be a product page, a category page, a blog post. Anything you get, basically your own people also ask. .

 And those are finger friendly people that like to expand and click, and that shows engagement. And Google doesn’t say click through or bounce rate is a ranking factor, but they sure do say engagement is. And so we’re doing that and I’ve even seen it. I presented this last week also where they had one site that had success with implied questions.

It was a doctor directory and it didn’t have the words, what insurance does this doctor accept.It just said insurance expander and specialties expander. And so there “people also ask” looked like site links. It was beautiful. 

 Joost de Valk: That is very beautiful. Do you think that actually implementing speakable on pages that don’t have FAQ or Q&A markup would make sense. So to mark a specific paragraph, a speakable for it. 

Cindy Krum: So what we’ve been doing is trying to include it at the bottom of a lot of things. So for instance, if you have a blog post about something you write your summary paragraph, and then we do an FAQ that kind of helps with the summary.

 It draws out the most actionable pieces of the blog post. And as long as you have three, that’s fine. And with “how-to”, we’ve been repositioning some of the things that we write or that we have clients, where you can actually put “how-to” you in front of just about anything if you add the word think or conceive or blah, blah. You know how to think about schema, how to think about buying a new car, how to decide when you know.. It’s just, you add another action verb in there and it’s fine. So yeah, we have been encouraging it. To me those two kinds of schema FAQ and “how-to”, they can be on the same page. So it’s great for some kinds of category pages or feature pages for a SAAS tool. 

New idea: Markup the first paragraph of news articles as speakable. 

Joost de Valk: We have these great blocks in Yoast SEO for both of them. It’s very simple with Yoast SEO to make these and I love them. I totally agree with you. One of the things that I’ve been looking at a bit is weather for news sites, especially it would make sense to automatically mark up the first paragraph as speakable because if they’re decent editors and their first paragraph will be well, the most important bits of the news.

 Cindy Krum: I usually only use speakable in the format of an FAQ or a how-to, so if you were going to do the first paragraph of a news article, you might have some implied question like summary and make sure that your first paragraph is a summary or an abstract of the longer.

Joost de Valk: But it has to be a question. That’s what you’re saying? 

Cindy Krum: From what we’ve seen, it has to be a question or an implied question and we haven’t gotten direct feedback saying implied questions are considered white hat, but we have seen it work. If Google’s just using it as training data, I would anticipate that their language understanding programs would love to learn about applied questions.

Like I think that’s where they ultimately want to get. So that kind of training might be useful for them.

Joost de Valk: Yeah. I think their goal is to answer the question before you ask them. That’s what they said a while ago. That was their goal to build something like that. 

Cindy Krum: So for it to be considered, I think valid, or maybe it’ll validate, but it’s not exactly what they want. So you have to have three questions 

Joost de Valk: yeah. For FAQ markup. Yeah. Otherwise, if you have less than it, one always take it. No, that’s true. Honestly, the worst part is parts of how they parse schema, because if you do it only, slightly wrong it doesn’t render it all. So it’s very easy to break and it’s very brittle. But yeah. 

Cindy Krum: Yeah. One more question for you. Have you seen how-to mark up on a Google home hub device?

Joost de Valk: Yeah, I’ve seen screenshots of it, but not myself. 

Cindy Krum: It’s gorgeous. It just says exactly your step one and the picture and the text and expander, and it’ll read it to you. And then you can say next, just like the same thing it does for recipes. 

Joost de Valk: So I need to order one of those and play with it. It’s always good when someone gives me a reason to order new toys. Okay, I want to thank you Cindy. I think we can talk about this for almost a decade if we want to.

But we’ve been going over 40 minutes already, so it was a delight talking to you as always. I hope to get to see you in person again soon, but yeah, we’ll see how that goes. We’re allowed to fly to the U S at some point. And thank you for being here. 

Cindy Krum: Thanks for having me. 

Joost de Valk: This was the Yoast SEO podcast. If you’re not subscribed yet, by all means do on one of your favorite platforms and tune in for the next. Bye-bye .

Want to know more?

Do you want to find out more about how to make a great (e-commerce) website, and improve your rankings? Take a look at these articles:

Yoast SEO Podcast series