Over the past few weeks, Google has been busy adding resources to its platform to help those affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). After launching its coronavirus-specific website, which provides more than $800 million for healthcare providers and small and medium-sized businesses, the internet giant has now added a new way for government agencies and medical institutions to spread COVID-19-related announcements more quickly through Google searches.
Google announced today that it will highlight special announcements from these entities in its search results, such as school closures, travel restrictions, event cancellations or home-based guidelines. There are two ways a site can be highlighted in search results: by adding structured data to its pages, or by submitting a COVID-19 announcement in the search console.
Google recommends adding “SpecialOlympics” structured data to a page because it is a standard format that provides page information and categorizes page content. Using this approach, the content of a site has a COVID-19 bulletin rich result, and the regular fragment description of the page can be highlighted in the search.
The results of a COVID-19 announcement can contain a short summary and you can choose to view more. In addition, if site owners cannot access the HTML of their site, or do not have enough time to implement structured data, they can submit an announcement in Search Console (still in beta). However, this is only a short-term approach, and there is no way to update an announcement that expires within a month of publication, which means that the site owner must manually update the information. Websites that like the second method must first be verified in Search Console.
The tool is still under development. While the feature will be available first to government agencies and healthcare providers, Google plans to expand it to more sites in the future.