Owing to the recent Coronavirus Pandemic, Google has created the COVID-19 Markup.

 Data related to COVID-19 announcements, updates, emergency information is structured using this markup. Created in April 2020, this schema aims to display all pandemic-related information systematically so that all the users are aware of the happenings and nobody gets confused.

What does the markup look like?
When data gets structured using this element, the content structured with the help of the markup to a page appears as a COVID-19 Rich Results announcement. The announcements appear on the search engine along with the snippet description of the page. The structured data is displayed right below the website snippet. For example: If you search for “COVID-19 Mumbai,” you will see that a few displayed results use this markup. You will also notice two additional elements on the search engine, an index on the left side of the search page with the title COVID-19 along with an alert sign. Below this title will be a list of headings like Overview, Statistics, Coping, Testing, etc. The headings are clickable and clicking on any one of the titles will show you the results of the clicked heading. Example: If you click on statistics, then you can see the statistics of the disease first followed by the rest of the information related to the disease.

The right side of the SERP displays a map of cases. This box is an image of the world map with blue circles drawn over countries having high numbers of coronavirus cases. Below this is a case overview box stating the overall cases in Maharashtra, Mumbai and worldwide respectively. Below this table are two more tables defining the disease and how it spreads, and a small box titled Resources From Google, this is a clickable box and helps you gain more information and disease-related news with the help of various Google tools and resources.

PRO TIP: Only selected websites and webpages are allowed to use the COVID-19 Markup.

Am I eligible for using the COVID-19 markup?

  1. Government Organisations use the markup for announcements like Travel Ban, Closure Notices (closing of offices, schools)
  2.  Announcing Government Benefits ( paid leave, unemployment payment, COVID-19 benefits, etc.)
  3. Health Organisations ( stating the various quarantine centres, testing centres, etc.)
  4. Educational Institutions like Schools and colleges ( stating their closing and opening days, work timings, mode of conduct online or offline, various schedules)
  5.  Government and Private Offices ( Working days and time, Work From Home rules regulations etc.)
  6.  To announce the revised timings of malls, shops and markets and various shopping restrictions.
  7.  COVID-19 Statistics and Disease spread maps.

How do I add the COVID-19 announcements?
There are two ways of adding structured data:

  1.  SpecialAnnouncement entity: Add the schema to your website containing COVID-19 information. Please refer to Part One of this series for knowing how to add structured data.
  1. Using Google Search Console:

In case you want to display an urgent announcement, you can submit them in the Search Console (BETA).

Government Agencies and Official Health Organisations use this option for displaying important announcements like the list of testing facilities in a city or closure of these facilities, etc. Search Console is used for structuring data of short term Government announcements. If an expiry date is not mentioned, then these announcements expire within a week. Due to these limitations, Google has decided not to use BETA for structured data anymore.

What are the different properties related to the COVID-19 markup?
To structure the data of special announcements made by Government and Health Organizations, Academic Institutions like schools and Colleges, Government and Private Offices, we use the SpecialAnnouncements entity.

For the correct use of this entity, you have to make use of a set of required and recommended properties.

Required Properties:

  1. Date posted: The date of the CO-VID 19 announcement in ISO-8601 format.
  2.  Name: the title of the COVID-19 related announcement.
  3.  A text or specific property pointing to more information: this part  contains a short text or different types of specific properties namely

a. disease Prevention

b. Info travel bans

c. School closure info

d. publicTransportClosuresInfo

e. Quarantine Guidelines

f. News Updates And Guidelines

g. getting Tested Info

h. disease Spread Statistics

i. Government Benefits Info

PRO TIP: you can include one or multiple properties in the announcements for making it understandable and specific.

Recommended Properties:

  1. announcementLocation: the exact location associated with or mentioned. It can either be the location of a local business or civic structure. Example: Announcement of a new testing facility at Vile Parle, Mumbai.
  2. announcementLocation.address: it is the detailed address of the announced location.
  3.  announcementLocation.name: The name of the said location. Example: The name of a quarantine centre of the testing facility in Vile Parle.
  4. announcementLocation.URL: The URL of the announced location. Example; The URL of the quarantine facility. This URL explains the location, timings and the eligibility factors of the facility.
  5.  Category: Another URL describing the category which the COVID-19 announcement falls in.
  6.  diseasepreventionInfo: It is a property used when describing the methods of prevention of COVID-19. Example: Health Organizations like WHO use this entity for informing people about the different ways COVID-19 prevention.
  7.  diseaseSpreadStatistics: the entity is used to describe the statistics of the disease. Usage of the entity is subjective. The statistics are either shown as Webcontent, or directly as Dataset, or as a specific observation in the Dataset.
  8. expires: the expiration date of the content in ISO-8601 format. Do not include when the expiry date is unknown.
  9. gettingTestedInfo: Information explaining the mode of getting tested and symptoms related to COVID-19 which when seen in an individual require immediate testing.
  10. governmentBenefitsInfo: information on the new COVID-19 related Government Benefits.

     This entity has sub-entities like:

  1. governmentBenefitsInfo.audience: The type of audience who is eligible for receiving government benefits. Example: the name of the audience that is eligible for the benefit.
  2. governmentBenefitsInfo.audience.name The name of the Government benefits. Example: COVID-19 Startups Assistance Scheme.
  3. governementBenefitsInfo.provider: the Government Organization providing the benefits.
  4. governmentBenefitsInfo.provider.name: the name of the Government Organization providing the benefit. For example Small Industries Development Bank of India.
  5. governmentBenefitsInfo.serviseType: the kind of government benefits supporting the COVID-19 Situation. The schema.org markup is used to structure this data. Example: http//schema.org/Basic Income

http//schema.org/BusinessSupport

http//schema.org/DisabilitySupport

  1. governmentBenefitsInfo.URL: the URL leading to the Government Benefits information
  2. newsupdatesAndGuidelines: A page containing COVID-19 news updates and guidelines. This page can be the main page containing the SpecialAnnouncements Markup.
  3. publicTransportClosuresInfo: COVID-19 related to public transport closure.
  4. quarentineGuidelines: Quarantine Guidelines related to COVID-19
  5. SchoolclosureInfo: COVID-19 related school closure information
  6. spatialCoverage : The geographical region mentioned in the COVID-19 announcements. For Example, The announcement: ALL SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES WILL REMAIN CLOSED IN MUMBAI, will contain the spatialCoverage and announcementLocation entity.
  7. Travel bans: Travel ban information related to COVID-19.
  8. text: the textual summary of the pandemic.

     It contains HTML tags like <h1> through <h6>, <br>,<ol><<ul>, <li>,<a>,<p>,<div>,<b>,<STRONG>,<i>,<em>.

PRO TIP: Testing and Validation Process and Analysing website traffic of structured data using the COVID-19 Markup are similar to the previous markups mentioned in the All about Data series. 

Troubleshooting problems are solved in a similar manner stated in the previous posts of the All About Structured Data Series.

For further help and support, Google has created a technical support group that answers all questions about your websites when displayed over Google Search engines.

Nirlep & Dharmesh

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