As the world continues to be dominated by the uncertain impacts of Covid-19, many organisations in various sectors such as government, health, education, retail, hospitality, insurance and finance have been publishing urgent announcements that affect schedules and other aspects of daily life. This includes the closure of facilities, rescheduling of events and new availability of medical facilities (for example with the UK, private healthcare organisations have offered their support to the NHS during this difficult period).
For greater visibility of this important information to the public, Google has taken steps to fast-track Structured Data types in order to assist with the global response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Structured Data, often written using the guidance of Schema.org, is important as it’s written in a way that provides greater visibility for search engines and allows for the information published by organisations to be displayed in a much richer format.
Some of these announcements (albeit not all applying to the UK) are listed below:
- Announcement of a shelter-in-place directive
- Closure notice (for example, closing a school or public transportation)
- Quarantine guidelines
- Testing Facilities
- Travel restrictions
- Notification of a new drive-through testing centre
- Announcement of an event transitioning from offline to online, or cancellation
- Announcement of revised hours and shopping restrictions
- Disease spread statistics and maps
Now that search engines have begun supporting these new Structured Data mark-ups, businesses and health/governmental entities can use them to alert audiences on how they’re adapting to the outbreak directly within the SERPs. They are however, still in the development stage so requirements and guidelines are subject to change.
For example, event organisers can now indicate when an event has moved from having a physical location to being conducted online, and whether the event’s “eventAttendanceMode” is online, offline or mixed.
If you are a governmental, health and educational authority, you can use the Google Search Console tool to create and submit announcements relating to Covid-19 for your site. This is designed to make it easier for local authorities to inform the local public about any event changes off the back of Covid-19.