Due to COVID-19, many health organizations are publishing urgent announcements that affect aspects of everyday life. New features launched on Google and Bing are helping that information cut through the clutter and rise to the top of SERP (search engine results page) where it’s the most useful for affected communities.
This information includes the closure of facilities, rescheduling of events, and new availability of medical facilities, such as testing centers. Other examples of special announcements being made during this time include:
- Announcement of a shelter-in-place directive
- Closure notice
- Quarantine guidelines
- Travel restrictions
- Notification of a new drive-through testing center
- Announcement of an event transitioning from offline to online, or cancellation
- Announcement of revised hours
- Disease spread statistics and maps
To better surface this information on SERPs, organizations can add structured data to their web pages. Structured data is code written in a specific format that search engines understand. Search engines read this code and use it to display the information in a more detailed, “richer” format, called a rich snippet or rich results. Rich snippets might include an image preview, preview text, a star rating and other details, whereas a normal snippet would only include the title, URL and brief description.
The ongoing challenge
Google and Bing are currently developing this feature and you may see changes in requirements or guidelines. You also may not see results right away. Provide structured data in advance to ensure that your announcements are eligible when the feature becomes available.
There are two ways to implement COVID-19 schema data. The first, and recommended way, is to add “SpecialAnnouncement” type to your web pages. If your team has the capacity to add this data, the information to get you started is here. Google recommends that you also take the time to build, test and release the structured data, and they explain that process in further detail.
The second way to implement COVID-19 announcements is to submit them using a form in Google Search Console. You may need to do this for several reasons such as you don’t have access to your sites’ HTML or you don’t have time to add structured data to your site but need the information uploaded quickly. If you choose this option, be aware of its limitations.
- This method should only be used for short-term announcements. Announcements will expire 1-month after posting.
- You must choose an expiration date, if not the announcement will expire 7 days after the date of posting.
- Currently, there are no tracking abilities.
- This tool is only for health and government organizations.
This new code is just one of the tactics Google is using to prioritize COVID-19 related announcements for healthcare organizations. Previously, they announced temporarily pausing some features while adding others and recommended using Google posts to update users searching for COVID-19 information.
Climb to the top (of SERPs).
Structured data are the details that make the difference. Our dedicated digital team is here to help you not only manage your online presence on search engines but can also help you maintain your site according to the newest updates. Contact us.