To help companies and organizations publish crucial COVID-19 information for customers and communities, Google has added a coronavirus-related announcement feature to Google Search.
At first, the search engine is using this information to highlight announcements in Google Search from health and government agency sites, as well as covering important updates like school closures or stay-at-home directives.
Google may not immediately show announcements from other websites on search results, but it hopes to expand special announcements to include more sites eventually. Site managers in all industries can still add the markup so the search engine can better understand how to expand the feature.
What is a Google COVID-19 Announcement?
For now, the types of special announcements include facility closures, event rescheduling and new availability of medical facilities, such as testing centers. Here are some examples of special announcements, according to Google:
- Announcement of a shelter-in-place directive
- Closure notice (for example, closing a school or public transportation)
- 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 and shopping restrictions
- Disease spread statistics and maps
How COVID-19 Announcements Appear in Search
When you add SpecialAnnouncement structured data to your pages, that content can appear with a COVID-19 announcement rich result, in addition to the regular snippet description. These COVID-19 announcement rich results, much like a COVID-19 Google Post, display as a short summary that can be expanded to view more. The format may change over time, Google says, and you may not see this content in the search results right away.
Here is the current format:
How to Add COVID-19 Announcements on Google
To highlight these special announcements on Google Search, businesses can either add SpecialAnnouncement structured data to their webpages or submit a COVID-19 announcement in Search Console.
Google recommends the first method: adding SpecialAnnouncement structured data to your web pages. Structured data is a standardized format for providing page information and classifying the page content. It is the easiest way for the search engine to catalog this information, enables reporting through Search Console in the future, and allows you to make updates. To implement COVID-19 announcement structured data, follow the steps outlined here.
The alternative method is to submit announcements in Search Console. If you don’t have access to your site’s HTML, or implementing the structured data will take too long, you can submit the announcement in Search Console. This method is meant for short-lived announcements that will expire within a month of posting. There is currently no way to update your announcement via Search Console. Learn more here.
If you do need to submit this way, you’ll need to first be verified in Search Console. Then you can submit a COVID-19 announcement through this form:
Other Ways to Optimize Google Search for COVID-19
Aside from special announcements markup, there are several ways you can highlight activities impacted by the coronavirus outbreak:
- Use best practices for health and government sites to make coronavirus information more visible on Google Search.
- Collect your common questions from consumers and add FAQ markup to help Google Search surface your answers.
- Review guidance from Google My Business on how to change your business hours, indicate temporary closures or create COVID-19 posts.
- Recommend changes to your Google Knowledge Panel, or claim it if you haven’t already.
- For healthcare organizations, add URLs to the new “COVID-19 info link” and “Telehealth info link” attributes on Google My Business.
Read more about listings management during the COVID-19 crisis:
- COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing: Should You Freeze, Pivot, or Push Forward?
- COVID-19: Updates to Local Listings and Reviews on Google, Yelp
- Coronavirus and Your Listings Management Program: A 5 Item Checklist
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist