As events go virtual, get postponed, or altogether cancelled due to coronavirus – Google is supporting new types of event schema.
Several new, optional properties have been added with one of them being an ‘eventStatus’ property. This allows site owners to indicate whether an event has been canceled, postponed, or rescheduled.
Using the eventStatus property enables Google to show searchers the current state of an event, rather than dropping it from search results.
Here’s how to use eventStatus:
- Canceled event: Set the eventStatus property to EventCancelled and keep the original date in the startDate of the event.
- Postponed event (new date not known): Keep the original date in the startDate of the event until you know when the event will take place and update the eventStatus to EventPostponed.
- Rescheduled event (new date is known): Update the startDate and endDate with the relevant new dates. Optionally, you can also mark the eventStatus field as EventRescheduled and add the previousStartDate.
- In-person event changed to online-only: Optionally update the eventStatus field to indicate the change with EventMovedOnline.
For more information on how to implement the eventStatus property, refer to the developer documentation.
Further Guidance for Virtual Events
Google offers further guidance specifically for virtual events. If your event is happening only online, make sure to use the following properties:
- Set the location to the VirtualLocation type.
- Set the eventAttendanceMode property to OnlineEventAttendanceMode.
Both using VirtualLocation and eventAttendanceMode even though they are technically still under development on Schema.org.
For more information on how to implement VirtualLocation, refer to the developer documentation.
Let Google Know About Event Changes
Lastly, as is a rule of thumb with any structured data changes, it’s advised that you notify Google so it can display the correct information in search results.
The best way to do this is by making your sitemap automatically available through your server. You can also ping Google specifically with the location of your sitemap by entering this URL in the address bar: http://www.google.com/ping?sitemap=URL/of/file.