I encountered a tweet today from Dan Sure which provided the text of an intriguing notification from Google concerning the use of podcasts, recipes and news by Google Assistant, Google's virtual assistant that's used by Google Home, Android phones and a host of other devices. (And since then numerous other webmasters have also commented on receiving this notification, as reported by Matt Southern in this Search Engine Journal article).
This, in part, is the notification some have been receiving:
Google Assistant helps user find the information they want, including content from publishers across of many of Google's platforms, e.g., Search, News, Maps and more. Now we're making it even easier for users to find content with the Google Assistant's browsable Actions directory.
Specifically, for U.S. English podcast, recipe, and news publishers who have invested in structured data markups and/or Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) we have presented the ability to find content from such providers as "Actions" (things people can ask the Google Assistant to do), each with its own auto-generated directory page in the Google Assistant's Actions directory.
A little poking around the Actions documentation on Google led me discover a suite of newly-added pages that provide further detail about these Google Assistant enabled content types. Specifically, as of today these pages have been added to the Google Actions documentation under the heading "Content Actions".
The TL;DR here, as described by the Overview section, is that if you've created a recipe using Recipe markup, or a news article (for a Google News-accredited source) using NewsArticle (or VideoObject) markup, or a podcast provided using Google-prescribed RSS feed, you're eligible for inclusion in the Assistant Actions directory – and, by extension, able to provide users with access to your content via the Google Assistant.
If you're a podcast, recipe, or news publisher and have created structured data markup and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), Google can automatically create Actions (things people can ask the Google Assistant to do) and an auto-generated page in the Assistant directory.
Exploring the recipe documentation, I discovered that (at time of writing) the instructions for "Creating a Recipe Action" on "Actions on Google" mirror, word for word, the instructions on Google Search for marking up recipes with structured data in order to be eligible for rich results.
In other words, if you've employed Google-prescribed structured data markup for recipes or news articles, or Google-prescribed RSS for podcasts, this content is already eligible for inclusion as a Google Assistant Action. (Though – while the fact isn't noted in the Actions documentation, as per the notifications this appears to be restricted to "U.S. English" content for the time being.)
Armed with this structured-data powered content, publishers can them claim their newly-minted Actions page in the Assistant directory.
When you publish your content according to the guidelines above, we'll create a page in the Assistant directory for your content. Your site owner, as listed in the Search Console, receives an email explaining how to claim your directory page. You can also claim your page by finding it in the directory and clicking the link to claim the page.
It will be interesting to see if Google makes other content types eligible for such semi-automated inclusion in the Assistant directory (fact checks, job postings and products seem like likely candidates, at first blush).
But even with this preliminary list of content types, the surfacing of podcasts, recipes and news in the Assistant directory supports what I've long said about an ancillary benefit of structured data markup: preemptive adoption of structured data can often translate into an unanticipated competitive advantage down the line.