How Schema Markup is Adapting to COVID-19

grid illustration of connected dots representing schema relationships, some of which are coronavirus

The idea of Schema Markup, or Structured Data, may be familiar by now. Up until earlier this year, it had been primarily used to explain to search engines what information is on a web page and explain how that information is related. Like Twitter, which started as a social platform but morphed into a crucial communication tool during emergencies, Schema Markup has turned into something different. Even the White House is encouraging users to use Schema Markup to alert others of new changes.

In Schema Markup, a data “type” is a tangible or intangible thing included on a web page, such as a product or organization. Attributes that are related to that thing are referred to as “properties”. Examples of properties include price, address, and title.

Since the start of the pandemic, schema.org has implemented new COVID-19-related data properties to assist search engines in alerting visitors to important resources or information. These data properties help existing markup data to adapt to the pandemic’s changing virtual landscape.

Here are the most helpful and widely-used new Schema Markup data properties:

Special Announcement

sign in front of resort that says "resort is closed - quarantine"

The most-used properties are connected with the Special Announcement type, which is an announcement of information on a web page. Almost any information that needs to be communicated about COVID-19 will be marked up with properties related to a Special Announcement.

These properties can be used to communicate:

  • Shelter-in-place notices and other executive orders
  • Facility and transportation closures, such as schools,public busses, or government buildings
  • New government benefits like extended unemployment assistance programs
  • Quarantine guidelines that affect the general public
  • Travel bans and restrictions in the US or internationally
  • Testing information, including new testing COVID testing centers
  • Revised hours and shopping restrictions at business’ and restaurants’ physical locations
  • Disease prevention information to assist in preventing the spread of COVID-19
  • Disease spread statistics, a dataset or map representing the spread of COVID-19

When added, these special properties end up with a SERP that looks similar to this:

special announcements on google search results page
Credit: Google Developers

Event

Due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, events are heavily affected by the pandemic. This means that information about status is always changing. That information is important to communicate to audiences and can be easily done using newly-created Event properties.

These properties can be used to communicate:

  • Event attendance type, indicating whether an event is online, offline, or mixed attendance
  • Event status, changes to an event including an event being moved online, canceled, postponed, or rescheduled

Job Posting

Many have lost jobs in the midst of a bad economy. People are hesitant to enter a new work location, but technology is making it easier to find a job working from home. To catch up with the pandemic’s home office trend, the Job Posting type now has a property to specify whether or not a job is remote.

The Future of Schema Markup

While search engines used to read Schema Markup in order to highlight relevant results to users, they now use it to also pull vital information that needs to be available to the general public. Schema Markup still serves its original function but its usefulness has broadened during the pandemic. 

This adaptation is a sign of Schema Markup’s changing potential: yesterday, it helped visitors find specific information on SERPs. Today, it helps communicate vital information in an emergency, Tomorrow, it may help to create an even easier world for users.
Excited to find out what Schema Markup can do for your website? Contact Top Of The List!

Sources

“Add Structured Data to COVID-19 Announcements.” Google, Google, 2020, developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/special-announcements. 

“Your Guide to COVID-19 Structured Data.” Schema App, Schema App, 2020, www.schemaapp.com/how-to/your-guide-to-covid-19-structured-data/.

About the Author

Mandie Allietta, Technical SEO Specialist

Mandie Allietta

Technical SEO Specialist II

Mandie joined Top Of The List in 2018 and has a degree in Web Development. She lives in Grand Rapids, MI with her chihuahua-mix, Potato.