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Google Updates Knowledge Graph for Coronavirus

Unless you’ve been stranded on a desert island for a few months, you’ll no doubt be aware of the name on everyone’s lips: COVID-19 (Coronavirus). 

With individuals and businesses concerned about the virus, Google has seen a significant rise in the amount of queries. The main ones being “how to recognise symptoms”, “how deadly is coronavirus” and “what should I do if I have coronavirus”. In response to this, Google has put together a strategy to improve the accuracy of their search engine when people search for information on COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Here is an in-depth look at how these changes affect results and SEO.

 

Google kNOWLEDGE gRAPH

You might be wondering what actions Google have put in place to deal with the increase in search traffic for phrases like “what is Coronavirus”, “what are the symptoms of Coronavirus” and even the more serious topic “can Coronavirus kill you”, whatever your question is, you’re probably going to turn to Google. With people being told to stay away from their doctors and emergency departments if they show signs of the virus, Google has added a new panel to their knowledge graph solely for COVID-19. The reasoning behind this is to provide the most accurate information when people perform a search. It may even help to relieve the pressure on emergency departments as they deal with the increase in calls. 

Of course, you shouldn’t take what every result says as gospel. If you do have concerns about your health, you should call your local health authority. But the changes made by Google should provide better results, at least, for those commonly asked questions. With so much misinformation and scaremongering online, this is definitely a step in the right direction. 

In addition to the inclusion of COVID-19 to their knowledge graph, Google have also set up an internal 24 hour incident report team that is synced with The World Health Organisation (WHO). It’s also been reported that the heads of Google have also been meeting regularly to discuss how it will affect their offices globally. 

 At Jigsaw Digital, we put this new development from Google to the test by searching and asking those all important questions. Not only has the experiment shed some light on the COVID-19 panel in Google’s Knowledge Graph, it has also educated us on the facts available online about COVID-19.

As you’d expect, the World Health Organisation is the dominant domain for any information related to coronavirus. We found that the  main answers to our questions were available on position zero (the various drop down boxes and snippets of text that you see on Google) – this helped to speed up the process of finding the right information. However, we also spent some time looking at the websites, just to see how the display this information. 

 

Commonly Asked Questions…

What is a Coronavirus?

If, like us, you’re wondering what Coronavirus is, we’ve spent some time collating as much information about the virus as possible and putting Google and websites through their paces.

What you may not know is the Coronavirus (now given the name of COVID-19) is a strain from a much larger family of Coronaviruses which can cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). 

So What Is COVID-19?

Originating in Wuhan, in December 2019, COVID-19 is the most recent addition to the family of coronaviruses. Prior to this the disease and virus was unknown.

What Are The Symptoms of COVID-19, Coronavirus?

When we searched for “symptoms of coronavirus uk” the NHS was the go-to authoritative website. However, and not surprisingly, the other results were dominated by UK newspaper brands: The Guardian, The Telegraph, along with news websites such as the BBC. The variety of sources on offer is giving searchers the best possible information and, more importantly, they all appear to be providing the same information. 

If you are worried that you might have Coronavirus, here is the main information we could find on the symptoms of Coronavirus.

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Cough

You may also suffer from achy muscles, a runny nose, dry throat – the typical symptoms of a normal cold. These common symptoms are making it harder for people to diagnose COVID-19. Because the UK is already in “cold season”, many people are suffering from these symptoms already, and may feel no different to the normal cold they get each year. However, if you are suffering from any of the above, it may be best to call your local health authority or visit their website for more information.

Continued….

What Should You Do If You Think You Have It?

Another important question searched for on Google is “what should I do if I think I have coronavirus?”. For this question we tested the results on both mobile and desktop to see the difference. With the rolling out of Mobile First Index we didn’t expect to see many differences, which was the case in this instance. Having said that, the mobile results displayed more information pulled in from the tabloids and broadsheets which made finding the right information slightly easier. With the NHS being the main source of information in the UK for advice on health related questions, we chose to visit their website.

The information on the NHS website was clearly laid out and provided an in-depth look at the virus. Having an easy to use website and clear information on the page are key to reducing visitor bounce rate. 

Here is what the NHS says you should do if you think you have COVID-19:

“If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-solate).”

They also go on to say you should:

  • Stay at home
  • Don’t go to work, school or public places
  • Try not to use public transport or taxis
  • Try and avoid visitors to your home. It’s still okay for your friends and family to drop off food or deliveries.

The isolation period for coronavirus is 14 days at present