Bing on Monday will begin accessing important information related to COVID-19 from government, business, and travel websites through a special Schema markup language that will allow people to search and find information on the search engine.
SEOs and website developers can use the SpecialAnnouncement schema markups to serve up in search results disease statistics, testing facilities and testing guidelines, school closures, travel restrictions including public transit closures, and special announcements from businesses related to hours or changes in service.
“We’re still developing all of the various scenarios for how the markup may appear,” Christi Olson, Microsoft evangelist, wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily. “As more websites start marking up their sites with the specialannoucement code, we’ll extend and develop additional scenarios for how the data will surface in the search results.”
SpecialAnnoucement for businesses might show updates for business hours. Business services can appear in the local listings and in map, for example. The markup for COVID-19 testing facilities may be used to help locate a nearby facility within the search results page or within maps. The markup for public transportation closures can appear for related searches in queries.
The markup for DiseaseSpreadStatistics and for testing and guidelines may be integrated into Bing’s COVID tracker.
The markup for government health agencies will assist Bing in accessing statistics via country, state or province, administrative area, and city, but they must use the schema.org markup for diseaseSpreadStatistics.
Only official government site reporting case statistics for a specific region can use this tag. Information in the markup must be up-to-date and consistent with statistics displayed from the site to the general public. Special announcements must include the date and time posted, as well as the time the statistics were first reported.
There is also a SpecialAnnouncement schema markup for local businesses, hospitals, schools, and government offices. Again, the data must be posted on an official website and refer only to changes related to COVID-19. The name of the special announcement must be easily identified within the body copy on the website page. It must include the posting date and the time the announcement expires.
A label detailing the special announcements related to COVID-19 with a link to the site for more details may be used on web results and in local listings shown on the search engine results page or map. This provides an easy link for customers and community members to find the latest information.
The SpecialAnnouncement schema markup gettingTestedInfo and CovidTestingFacility should be used to direct those searching for risk assessment and testing centers. It can lead those searching to specific locations to well-known healthcare facilities or government health agencies. The schema.org markup must be used to add URLs and facility locations already associated with a provider or an agency. Listing other providers’ facilities is not supported at this time.
Each has its own markup language for website pages. More information can be found here. There, marketers and webmasters will find guidance to specify locations using “about” as a variable to identify the location. For SpecialAnnouncement schema markup this variable has been updated and changed to “spatialCoverage.”