Your Guide to COVID-19 Structured Data

Schema Markup

Purpose: This document is intended as a comprehensive guide for marking up information about COVID-19. It outlines the schema.org types and properties that can be used to increase the visibility and accessibility of such information, and how Schema App can assist with creating and maintaining this markup. 

What kind of content should be marked up?

SpecialAnnouncement structured data is currently supported by Bing and Google, both of which have the ability to represent properly-marked up content in the form of rich results. Examples of content eligible for the SpecialAnnouncement rich result include:

  • Announcements of a shelter-in-place directive
  • Closure notices (for example, closing a school or public transportation)
  • Announcement of government benefits (for example, unemployment support, paid leave, or one-time payments)
  • Quarantine guidelines
  • Travel restrictions
  • Notifications of a new drive-through testing center
  • Announcements of an event transitioning from offline to online, or a cancellation
  • Announcements of revised hours and shopping restrictions
  • Disease spread statistics and maps

Who should use this markup?

The guidelines put forward by both Google and Schema.org state that SpecialAnnouncement markup should be used for urgent announcements published by locally-oriented organizations such as schools, pharmacies, healthcare providers, community groups, police, and local government.

On April 15th, 2020, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy stated they were adopting Schema.org markup for COVID-19 announcements. They have urged the private sector, State and local governments, and academic community to do the same.

Google has stated that local businesses can utilize SpecialAnnouncement for changes to store hours. While the associated rich result may not show up in search, it still facilitates the understanding of such content for search queries. 

Special Announcement

SpecialAnnouncement markup should be added for time-stamped information updates made by locally-oriented organizations, such as schools, pharmacies, healthcare providers, community groups, police, and local governments. Below are the required and recommended properties as presented in Google’s structured data type definitions for SpecialAnnouncement. 

Required Properties

Schema Property: datePosted
Expected Value: DateTime
Mapping Notes: The date that the COVID-19 announcement was published in ISO-8601 format.

Schema Property: name
Expected Value: text
Mapping Notes: The short title of the COVID-19 announcement in plain text. For example: “Stanford announces COVID-19 testing facility”.

Schema Property: Either text or a specific property that points to more information
Expected Value: text
Mapping Notes: You must include either text, or one of the following specific properties that point to more information about the announcement, depending on the subject matter:

Google notes that multiple specific properties can be used, and are even encouraged, if they make sense in the context of the announcement.

NOTE! The Schema App Editor automatically transforms a selected date into the required ISO-8601 format.

Required Properties

Schema Property: announcementLocation 
Expected Value: LocalBusiness or CivicStructure
Mapping Notes: The specific location that is associated with the SpecialAnnouncement. For example, a specific testing facility or business with special opening hours. Both the LocalBusiness and CivicStructures must, themselves, contain a name, a URL and a PostalAddress by way of the address property. For a larger geographic region, like a quarantine of an entire region, Google recommends using spatialCoverage

Schema Property: category 
Expected Value: URL
Mapping Notes: The URL that describes the category for the special announcement. Link to the Wikipedia page for COVID-19

Schema Property: diseasePreventionInfo
Expected Value: URL or WebContent
Mapping Notes: A specific property. Information about disease prevention, if applicable to the announcement. A URL linking to the related page is acceptable, but the WebContent type contains additional properties that can be leveraged to further describe the content.

Schema Property: diseaseSpreadStatistics
Expected Value: URL or WebContent or Dataset or Observation
Mapping Notes: A specific property. If applicable to the announcement, the statistical information about the spread of a disease, either as WebContent, or described directly as a Dataset, or the specific Observation in the dataset. These types contain additional properties that can be leveraged to further describe the content.

Schema Property: expires
Expected Value: DateTime
Mapping Notes: The date in which the content expires and is no longer useful or available in ISO-8601 format. Don’t include this property if you don’t know when the content will expire.

Schema Property: gettingTestedInfo
Expected Value: URL or WebContent
Mapping Notes: A specific property. Information about getting tested (for a MedicalCondition) in the context of COVID-19, if applicable to the announcement.

Schema Property: governmentBenefitsInfo
Expected Value: GovernmentService
Mapping Notes: A specific property. Information about new government benefits in the context of COVID-19, if applicable to the announcement. GovernmentService has it’s own set of required properties. For a full description, see the Government Benefits Info section below.

Schema Property: newsUpdatesAndGuidelines
Expected Value: URL or WebContent
Mapping Notes: A specific property. A page with news updates and guidelines in the context of COVID-19, if applicable to the announcement. This could be (but is not required to be) the main page containing SpecialAnnouncement markup on a site.

Schema Property: publicTransportClosuresInfo
Expected Value: URL or WebContent
Mapping Notes: A specific property. Information about public transport closures in the context of COVID-19, if applicable to the announcement.

Schema Property: quarantineGuidelines
Expected Value: URL or WebContent
Mapping Notes: A specific property. Guidelines about quarantine rules in the context of COVID-19, if applicable to the announcement.

Schema Property: schoolClosuresInfo
Expected Value: URL or WebContent
Mapping Notes: A specific property. Information about school closures in the context of COVID-19, if applicable to the announcement.

Schema Property: spatialCoverage
Expected Value: Place
Mapping Notes: The geographic region that is the focus of the special announcement, if applicable. For example, the announcement may be about a shelter-in-place that affects multiple regions. This can be called out by way of Place. A Place is best defined by way of a Wikipedia or Wikidata URL. If the announcement affects both a region and a specific location (for example, a library closure that serves an entire region), use both spatialCoverage and announcementLocation.

Schema Property: text
Expected Value: text
Mapping Notes: The textual summary of the COVID-19 announcement. The text may contain HTML content such as links and lists. Valid HTML tags include: <h1> through <h6>, <br>, <ol>, <ul>, <li>, <a>, <p>, <div>, <b>, <strong>, <i>, and <em>. This can be used instead of, or alongside specific properties.

Schema Property: travelBans
Expected Value: URL or WebContent
Mapping Notes: A specific property. Information about travel bans in the context of COVID-19, if applicable to the announcement.

Some of the listed properties link to other schema.org types. Here is more information to clarify what these types are, and how they can be used:

  • Dataset: A body of structured information describing some topic(s) of interest. More information about the term within the context of schema.org can be found in the data and datasets overview.
  • DateTime: A combination of date and time of day. Schema App’s Editor allows you to select a date from a calendar, and automatically transforms it into ISO-8601 format.
  • CivicStucture: A public structure, such as a town hall or concert hall. This type inherits all of the properties associated with Place.
  • LocalBusiness: A particular physical business or branch of an organization. This type contains required properties that may result in errors if they are not fulfilled. For a full tutorial of creating LocalBusiness markup, see Schema App’s How-to Guide for Local Business Schema Markup.
  • Observation: Schema.org describes Observation as a type  used to specify observations about an entity (which may or may not be an instance of a StatisticalPopulation), at a particular time. The principal properties of an Observation are observedNode, measuredProperty, measuredValue (or median, etc.) and observationDate (measuredProperty properties can, but need not always, be W3C RDF Data Cube “measure properties”, as in the lifeExpectancy example). See also StatisticalPopulation, and the data and datasets overview for more details.
  • Place: Entities that have a somewhat fixed, physical extension. A Place is best defined by way of a Wikipedia or Wikidata URL.
  • WebContent: WebContent is a type representing all WebPage, WebSite and WebPageElement content. In some cases the WebContent type can be used in place of a URL. It contains additional properties that can be leveraged to further describe linked content.

Government Service

The governmentBenefitsInfo property can be used to provide more specific information about government benefits related to the SpecialAnnouncement. This property expects a GovernmentService data item which, itself, expects the following properties and values:

Required Properties

Schema Property: audience
Expected Value: Audience
Mapping Notes: The audience that is eligible to receive the government benefits. An Audience data item requires the name property to describe the intended audience. For example, “Small Businesses”

Schema Property: name
Expected Value: text
Mapping Notes: The name of the government benefits. For example, “Paycheck Protection Program”.

Schema Property: provider
Expected Value: GovernmentOrganization
Mapping Notes: The government organization that is providing the benefits. A GovernmentOrganization data item requires the name property to describe the government organization that is providing the benefits. For example, “US Small Business Administration”.

Schema Property: serviceType
Expected Value: GovernmentOrganization
Mapping Notes: The type of government benefits that support the COVID-19 situation. Use one of the following enumerations:

If none of the listed enumerations are adequate to describe the benefits type, a textual description can also be used.

Schema Property: url
Expected Value: URL
Mapping Notes: The URL to more information about the government benefits.

JSON-LD from Video Example

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
    "@context": "http://schema.org",
    "@type": "SpecialAnnouncement",
    "category": "https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q81068910",
    "name": "AdventHealth Durand",
    "datePosted": "2020-04-15T00:00",
    "text": "If you are experiencing any symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, and or coughing) please register for our drive-in Covid-19 screening.",
    "newsUpdatesAndGuidelines": "https://www.adventhealth.com/coronavirus-resource-hub/coronavirus-covid-19-screening-and-testing",
    "announcementLocation": {
        "@type": "CivicStructure",
        "address": {
            "@type": "PostalAddress",
            "streetAddress": "1220 3rd ave",
            "name": "Durand Location ",
            "addressLocality": "Durand",
            "addressCountry": "USA",
            "addressRegion": "WI",
            "@id": "https://www.adventhealth.events/event.cfm?id=7489#PostalAddress"
        },
        "url": "https://www.adventhealth.com/coronavirus-resource-hub/coronavirus-covid-19-screening-and-testing",
        "name": "AdventHealth Durand",
        "@id": "https://www.adventhealth.events/event.cfm?id=7489#CivicStructure"
    },
    "@id": "https://www.adventhealth.events/event.cfm?id=7489"
}
</script>

Other Opportunities for Enhancement

Most pages that are eligible for SpecialAnnouncement markup likely contain other information of interest. Adding structured data to this content can both provide more context for your SpecialAnnouncement, and benefit from being informed by the SpecialAnnouncement’s markup. Here are some examples of schema.org types that may be of interest, and the properties that can be used to connect them to your SpecialAnnouncement.

Other Types and Properties

Schema Property: mentions
Expected Value: Physician
Mapping Notes: Physicians mentioned on a SpecialAnnouncement page can be marked up using properties like availableService, hospitalAffiliation and medicalSpecialty.

Schema Property: hasPart
Expected Value: FAQPage
Mapping Notes: The SpecialAnnouncement page may have an FAQ section that can be called out with the hasPart property. Marking up your FAQs can make them eligible for rich results in search, improving the visibility and accessibility of this essential and informative content. For more information about marking up FAQs, see our tutorial Creating “FAQPage” Schema Markup Using the Schema App Editor.

Schema Property: subjectOf
Expected Value: Article or BlogPosting
Mapping Notes: Articles and Blog Posts that have the SpecialAnnouncement as their subject, and are listed or linked to on the SpecialAnnouncement page, can be called out using the subjectOf property. If they pertain to another related topic, use the mentions property. If they are cited within the SpecialAnnouncement, use the citation property. For more information about marking up Articles and BlogPostings, see our tutorial video How to Optimize an Article with Schema App Editor.

Schema Property: subjectOf
Expected Value: MedicalWebPage
Mapping Notes: A web page that provides medical information can be marked up using the MedicalWebPage type. If the SpecialAnnouncement is the subject of this page, use the subjectOf property. If it pertains to another related topic, use the mentions property.

Schema Property: subjectOf
Expected Value: VideoObject
Mapping Notes: Using the VideoObject type allows you to call out Videos existing on the Special Announcement page. The subjectOf property ensures that search engines know the SpecialAnnouncement is the subjectOf the VideoObject. If the video pertains to another related topic, utilize the video or associatedMedia properties instead.  For more information about marking up videos, see our tutorial video How to Optimize a VideoObject with Schema App Editor.

Since Google’s documentation is currently in beta, it is expected that the required and recommended properties will change over time. Schema App’s tools will be modified to accommodate these changes as they occur.

Resources

Connecting Americans to Coronavirus Information Online (Whitehouse Office of Science and Technology Policy; April 15th, 2020)

Latest updates (Google Search; April 16th, 2020)

Introducing a new way for sites to highlight COVID-19 announcements on Google Search (Webmaster Central Blog; April 03, 2020)

Schema for Coronavirus special announcements, Covid-19 Testing Facilities and more (Schema.org blog; March 16th, 2020)

Bing adopts schema.org markup for special announcements for COVID-19 (Bing blogs; March 23rd, 2020)

Add structured data to COVID-19 announcements (BETA) (Google Search; March 16th, 2020)

As you can see, the schema.org vocabulary and Google’s structured data guidelines are always changing. We see these changes as opportunities to find new ways for our customers to maximize their results from structured data! Schema App’s tools are constantly being modified and updated to accommodate any vocabulary changes. Set up a strategy call with one of our technical experts today to get started!

Start reaching your online business goals with structured data.

 

Jasmine Drudge-Willson is a Customer Success Manager at Schema App. Prior to this position, she worked as a research assistant tackling time, space, and identity representation in the development of a semantic web ontology for the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (University of Guelph). This work extended to the Revue 2.0 project (Université de Montréal) which addressed the role of ontologies in digital scholarly publishing environments. Her internship at Huma-Num—a very large research infrastructure project in Paris, France—solidified her passion for finding a balance between usability and ethical responsibility in cyberinfrastructure development.

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