Schema.org Launches New SEO Structured Data Types For Coronavirus-Related Searches

Brandon LazovicMarch 24, 2020

On March 17 Schema.org launched coronavirus-related structured data types as part of version 7.0. The following structured data types were fast-tracked in response to the COVID-19 outbreak:

  • SpecialAnnouncement
  • CovidTestingFacility
  • eventAttendanceMode

Why Use The Coronavirus Structured Data Markup

With the virus situation changing quickly and several states issuing “Shelter In Place” orders, businesses and agencies can utilize this markup to communicate updates within the Google search results. Google also recently added the option for business to update their Google My Business listings hours if they're temporarily closed.

If you aren't savvy with structured data markup, Google launched a new tool in Search Console to make COVID-19 special announcements.

Bing Also Added Support For COVID-19 SEO Schema

Bing recently announced support for SpecialAnnouncements alongside several other schema markup types. Like I mentioned before, the schema is designed for the following uses:

  • Special hours and closures for local businesses
  • Information on testing centers and risk assessment
  • Restrictions on travel

Using SpecialAnnouncement Structured Data For COVID-19 Business Updates

This type provides simple data-stamped textual updates in the SERPs. It can also indicate URLs for different kinds of updates such as school closures, public transport closures, travel bans, quarantine guidelines and information regarding testing.

SpecialAnnouncement was released specifically for announcements relating to the COVID-19 outbreak. Entities that can use this structured data include hospitals, schools, local businesses, government offices, and other entities. The following properties are recommended when using this schema:

  • Name
  • Text
  • DatePublished
  • URL
  • Category
  • Expires

Example Markup:

<script type="application/ld+json">

{

    "@context": "http://schema.org",

    "@type": "SpecialAnnouncement",

    "name": "School Closure information for Eastergate School",

    "text": "School closure information has been published.",

    "datePublished": "2020-03-17",

    "expires": "2020-03-24",

    "category": "https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q81068910",

    "schoolClosuresInfo": "http://example.org/schools/school/eastergate-cofe-primary-school/closures",

    "about" : {

        "@type": "School",

        "name": "Eastergate School",

        "url": "http://example.org/schools/school/eastergate-cofe-primary-school/",

        "location": "..."

    }

}

</script>

CovidTestingFacility Structured Data

With many new testing facilities being rapidly established, the CovidTestingFacility schema can be used to represent these, whether they’re part of long-established medical facilities or temporary adaptions to the emergency.

Example Markup:

<script type="application/ld+json">

{

    "@context": "http://schema.org",

    "@type": "SpecialAnnouncement",

    "name": "Stanford announce COVID-19 testing facility",

    "text": "Stanford Health Care’s same-day primary care program is offering drive-through testing, by appointment, for SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.",

    "datePublished": "2020-03-16",

    "url": "http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2020/03/stanford-offers-drive-through-coronavirus-test.html",

    "category": "https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q81068910",

    "about" : {

        "@type": "CovidTestingFacility",

        "name": "Stanford Health Care",

        "url": "https://stanfordhealthcare.org/"

    }

}

</script>

eventAttendanceMode Structured Data

Event organizers can now indicate when an event has moved from having a physical location and is being conducted online or offline.

[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_4"]

New Types Of Event Schema

The eventStatus property allows Google to show users the state of an event within the search results. Below are a few examples in which you can use this property type:

  • Canceled event: Set the eventStatus property to EventCancelled and keep the original date in the startDate of the event.
  • Postponed event (new date not known): Keep the original date in the startDate of the event until you know when the event will take place and update the eventStatus to EventPostponed.
  • Rescheduled event (new date is known): Update the startDate and endDate with the relevant new dates. Optionally, you can also mark the eventStatus field as EventRescheduled and add the previousStartDate.
  • In-person event changed to online-only: Optionally update the eventStatus field to indicate the change with EventMovedOnline.

Other Types of Coronavirus Schema Markup

While the above three are the most common uses of COVID-19 structured data, there are a few other schema types available depending on your situation. You can also use SEMRush for keyword research for structured data outside of your standard COVID-19 announcements.

diseaseSpreadStatistics Schema Markup

This kind of markup is associated with the SpecialAnnouncement markup. Bing will use this information to pull in data for its COVID-19 tracking map. The following criteria must be met for use of this structured data:

  • The site must be an official government site that reports COVID-19 case statistics
  •  Information is up-to-date and the same with statistics shown to the public
  • Must include the date it was posted
  • CovidTestingFacility Markup

Alongside the CovidTestingFacility schema markup, the gettingTestedInfo property will show users how to get assessed and how to locate a nearby facility for testing. The following criteria must be met for use of this structured data:

  • The site must be an official government health agency or healthcare facility
  • Must specify which assessment is required prior to testing at a specific location
  • Listing other provider facilities isn’t supported in this markup

Travel Restriction Schema Markup

travelBans and publicTransportClosuresInfo is now available for travel agencies, hotels, airlines and other travel providers to provide updated hours, closures or travel guidelines. The following criteria must be met for use of this structured data:

  • Must be a well-known government agency, or travel provider such as an airline or hotel
  • Location is required to be specific for travel ban or public transport closure.
  • Must be easily identifiable within the body of the web page when describing the closure information or travel ban
  • Date of the special announcement post must be provided, as well as when it expires

How To Update Google On Your Event Change

The first step is to create your schema markup using the example JSON-LD code above.

Next, you’ll add your structured data to your website, above the header of your target landing page. After adding it and refreshing your site’s cache, you’ll then test the code using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

After ensuring there are no errors for your markup, you can submit the structured data for indexation using the URL inspection tools in Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console.

If you haven't already, be sure to monitor your Google My Business chat for customer inquiries or update your Google My Business listing with up-to-date information such as your new business hours. You can also check out my latest guide on how to update old content for SEO.

Related Resources:

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