California: From today’s Doodle to PSAs and Knowledge Panels, Google Search is home to a number of resources about COVID-19. In recent weeks, the company has provided ways for important sites to surface related information. The latest effort will see Google directly highlight announcements from health agencies and other government sites.
Google wants to showcase “important coronavirus-related announcements that affect our everyday lives” right in Search. These new special announcements will appear inline underneath a result’s URL path, page name, and regular snippet description.
The COVID-19 announcement rich result “can contain a short summary that can be expanded to view more more.” The format may chance over time and is under active development, but one example provided today is a timeline of updates that can shown/hidden right on the results page with additional links.
These special announcements will first be available to health and government agency sites for “important updates like school closures or stay-at-home directives.” Google advises other sites to markup their sites, and hopes to expand this capability:
While we might not immediately show announcements from other types of sites, seeing the markup will help us better understand how to expand this feature.
Behind-the-scenes, website owners can have these special announcements appear in Google Search by adding structured data to a page. This is the advised method and the easiest way for the company to take in information as what appears in Search will automatically update as changes are made to a site.
We recommend using this method because it is the easiest way for us to take in this information, it enables reporting through Search Console in the future, and enables you to make updates. Learn how to add structured data to COVID-19 announcements.
An alternate solution involves submitting announcements through the Search Console for those without the “technical ability or support to implement structured data.” Still in beta, this is a short-term solution that requires manually updating the announcements that appear on google.com. Sites also have to be verified for Search Console to gain access.