Google has been busy over the last couple of weeks adding various resources to its platform meant to help those impacted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) fallout. After launching its coronavirus-dedicated website to granting more than $800 million in funding for healthcare organizations and SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses), the internet giant is now adding a new way to let government agencies and health organizations disseminate COVID-19-related announcements more quickly through Google Search.
The company announced today that it will highlight special announcements like school closures, travel restrictions, event cancellation or stay-at-home guidelines from those entities on its search results. There are two ways for websites to be featured in Search: adding structured data to their web pages or submitting COVID-19 announcements in Search Console.
Google recommends adding the "SpecialAnnouncement" structured data to web pages since it's the standard format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content. With this method, a site's content with a COVID-19 announcement rich result can be highlighted in Search along with that page's regular snippet description. A COVID-19 announcement rich result can contain a short summary with an option to view more. Alternatively, website owners who don't have access to their site's HTML or don't have enough time to implement structured data can submit the announcement in Search Console (still in beta testing). However, this is only a short-term method for announcements that will expire within a month of posting, without a way to update them. . That means website owners must manually update that information. Websites that prefer the second method must be verified first in Search Console.
This tool is still in development. While this feature will be available first to government agencies and health organizations, Google plans to expand this capability to include more websites in the future.