COVID-19 has impacted the world, not only as a critical health issue but also from a business standpoint. As non-essential businesses have had to shutter their doors, websites have become the go-to resource for critical information regarding closures, shipping delays and more. As COVID announcements and on-site banners become more prominent, it is imperative that businesses also update their structured data to ensure optimal Google performance and avoid penalties. Here are our tips to make sure your website also stays safe during this time.

What is structured data?

Structured data is a basic necessity on all websites, and it’s a back-end function that helps your search visibility within Google and relevancy. Search engines will crawl your website code and content, allowing Google to understand what your business does and any changes that are taking place. By updating your structured data, you’re feeding search engines what they need to know in order to display your business in the proper search results.

Updating your structured data is fairly simple, and it happens within the code using a JSON-LD script or Microdata. Implementation can vary depending on the platform your site has been built on, but adding a JSON script to the head of your web page will provide the information needed by the search engine for a COVID-19 Special Announcement. If you are using a CMS or another solution where you do not have access to add this script to the page template, you can also use Microdata within your content to provide the same information. 

The advantage of the JSON script option is that if your site uses a shared header across all pages, you can add this script to that header and all of your pages will contain the special announcement. With the Microdata option, this data is only available to a search engine on the pages where you have added it.

Learn more about implementing both scripts here.

When should you update your structured data with a COVID-19 announcement?

Has your business been impacted by COVID-19? Specifically, have you updated your website with one of the following: an announcement to your operating hours, a shelter-in-place directive, a closure notice (closing a school or public transportation), an update in government benefits (unemployment support, paid leave, or one-time payments), quarantine guidelines, travel restrictions, an event transitioning from offline to online, or cancellation, revised hours and shopping restrictions and/or disease spread statistics and maps. If you’re updating your website with this type of information, you should also be updating your structured data to fit this new information.

Why you should update your structured data during COVID-19?

With the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every company seems to be making an update to its website with additional information about how their business has been impacted. With these updates, companies should also update their structured data. Why? When you update your homepage with a banner about COVID or add a carousel slider about your business functions, you’re altering your on-site content without rooting that information in the code of your website. In doing this, Google will crawl your site and see the COVID mentions but will not see it in the backend of your site. Google then questions the mentions on your site because it’s not registering as critical information and more like you’re trying to use relevant, trending terms to garner traffic. Because of this, Google may consider this to be spam content and could potentially downgrade your site in the search ranking.

Want to know more? Contact us today to speak with a member of our development or digital marketing team to understand how you should be updating your website.