Best practices for health and government websites

If you are a representative of a health authority or government website, and you have important information about coronavirus for the general public, here are some recommendations for how to make this information more visible on Google Search.

Join our technical support group
In addition to the best practices below, national health ministries and US state level agencies that publish COVID-19 information can take part in our new technical support group. This group helps answer Google Search questions that you may have about your website. Complete this form to request access to this technical support group.

 

1. Test how users find and see your site now

Try searching for common coronavirus queries in Google to see how your site is displayed. If your site is appearing very low in results, or not at all, follow the tips here to improve your visibility in Search. Note, though, that Google is working hard to surface authoritative information, and cannot guarantee site ranking in our ordinary search results.

Try some queries.

Also, make sure that your site can be viewed on both mobile and desktop browsers: remember that more than half of all searches today are from mobile devices. Test your pages using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

2. See how you are ranking for top queries

See what COVID-19 related queries show your site in Search, how you rank for those queries, and whether users click through to your site:

  1. Open the Search Console Performance report. Filter for the last 7 days to focus on topics most relevant to recent searches.
  2. If coronavirus is only a small part of your site, add a URL filter to focus on pages that are relevant to coronavirus.
  3. Find your top clicked COVID-19 pages, see which queries show that page in Search, and confirm that your page answers those queries comprehensively and clearly.
  4. Sort the table by impressions to identify relevant queries that have high impressions but low CTR relative to their position. Try aligning the title and content to better answer those user queries.
3. Add or improve your site content, titles and meta tags

Content

Add appropriate content to your site that matches user queries to help improve your ranking. If you already have this content, rewrite it to include user queries in the page content, page titles, or section titles to help Google identify it.

Those concerned about COVID-19 will likely look for information using ordinary language, rather than precise medical terms. To better reach them, ensure that you're writing in the language they might use.

Tip 2 (See how you are ranking for top queries) can help you understand some of the top ways people are searching for coronavirus information. You can use that as a guide for topics and terminology, and how ordinary people are looking for information through other channels.

Titles

Most important: when creating a new page of information, it's very helpful to give it a title that clearly summarizes what the page is about, using the language that someone seeking that type of page might use. Think of a page title as a summary of the page. This helps both Google and searchers understand the focus of the page. Put the user-visible page title inside your HTML <title> tag.

Meta tags

Make sure that every page on your site has a meta description. Google will sometimes use the <meta> description tag from a page to generate a search results snippet, if we think it gives users a more accurate description than would be possible purely from the on-page content.

A meta description tag should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they're looking for. There's no limit on how long a meta description can be, but the search result snippets are truncated as needed, typically to fit the device width.

 

Learn more about SEO.

4. See top user queries in your language

Visit Google Trends to see which coronavirus-related terms people are searching for:

  1. Visit the Google Trends Coronavirus page.
  2. Scroll down to find the flag list on the page, and select your country's flag to see search queries specific to your country. If your flag is not listed:
    1.  Visit the Google Trends homepage and search for coronavirus-related terms to see which terms people are searching for.
    2. Select your country or region in the dropdown filter at the top of the page to focus on users from your location.
    3. Change the date selection to look for the last week or two, to understand recent queries.
    4. Scroll to the Related queries section of the report linked to below and select Top to see top user queries.
    5. Explore related queries by clicking query entries in the table.
    6. Switch back from Top to Rising to see trending queries from users.

 

On the Trends homepage, look for special updates on Coronavirus to see additional guidelines. 

5. Add structured data to your FAQs and COVID-19 announcements

When you provide structured data on your website, Google can more easily extract and present the information in search results in useful ways. Properly implemented structured data can appear in Google with special formatting to help present your information more prominently.

Learn how to add structure data to your FAQs.

Learn how to add structured data to your COVID-19 announcementsIf you don't have access to your site's HTML, or your announcement is urgent, you can submit the announcement in Search Console

 

 

For some government sites, Google may show extended snippets to help users better identify useful information in relation to COVID-19. Government agencies with questions or concerns about this approach can contact us for assistance.

 

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