How to Use Fact Checking Schema Markup on Healthcare Sites

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Fact Checking SChema on Healthcare

Fact Checking SChema on Healthcare

One of the biggest challenges facing healthcare and health-adjacent websites today is the one-two punch combination of the YMYL and E-A-T algorithms in Google’s search.

We’ve written about it in greater detail here, but as a quick refresher, here’s a rundown of YMYL:

YMYL is a categorization for certain kinds of websites. Websites that fall into this set of categories are subject to additional scrutiny to verify their authority. YMYL stands for Your Money or Your Life, and it applies to websites covering topics that can significantly impact health, wellness, finances, and other related subjects. Healthcare sites are most prominently affected by this, but others, like financial advice blogs, law firms, and nutrition sites, also count.

EAT is equally relevant in this conversation. What is EAT?

E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It’s a three-pronged approach to analyzing the authority and trust of a website, and while it applies broadly to every website, it’s cranked up to 11 for sites in the YMYL categories. In other words, to achieve a high search ranking, your site must demonstrate a high degree of expertise, a source of authority, and signs of trustworthiness.

There are many ways to improve your EAT metrics, including citing specific authors, using authoritative references, and building up trust elements on your website. However, we’ve mentioned one method before but haven’t yet discussed how to implement it.

That method is fact-checking.

How Fact-Checking Works

Fact-checking has three primary components.

How Fact Checking Works

They are:

  • First, you have a claim. Your author may make this claim in the post they’re writing, or it may be made by someone else who your author is quoting for your content. Either way, it’s a claim being made in your publishing content.
  • The second component is the authority figure responsible for the fact-checking; this must be a person with some expertise relevant to the subject, so readers can trust them to accurately verify the truth of the claim. They may have a relevant advanced degree in the subject (someone with a Ph.D. in Infection Prevention fact-checking a post about COVID, for example), or they may be a professional working in a relevant career or something similar. The key is that they need to be a third party who can verify the validity of the facts in the content to the best of their ability.
  • The third element is Schema markup – this isn’t always present, but it’s a massive benefit to the websites that can use it. It consists of at least three meta tags: the ClaimReview, Claim, and Rating tags. Each of those three has its own attributes that you must also fill out. All of this is a way to tell Google that a given claim has been fact-checked, by who, and what the verdict is. Google can display that information in their search results to help people trust (or distrust) certain websites more.

Fact-checking is a way for a site that posts authoritative, valid information to verify that the information has been fact-checked by a third-party authority and proven to be accurate to the best of modern knowledge. It’s also a way for sites that refute misinformation (think Snopes) to verify that a claim is incorrect.

How to Qualify for Fact Checking Schema

To implement the fact-checking Schema, you need to be able to insert meta tags in a script, and you need your site to be eligible to use Schema markup.

Any site can put Schema tags in its code, but only some websites can take advantage of those.

Google will otherwise ignore them.

How to Qualify for Fact Checking Schema

So, what makes you eligible?

  • Your site must use the ClaimReview tag on multiple pages. You can’t fact-check a single page on your site and hope to get rich results from it.
  • Your site must follow all of Google’s Structured Data Guidelines, seen here.
  • Your site must follow all of Google’s webmaster and content guidelines, seen here.
  • Your site must follow the Google News guidelines for accountability, transparency, readability, and site misrepresentation, as seen here.
  • You must have a mechanism for readers to report errors and for your site to issue corrections.
  • You must be able to attribute the original claim to someone other than your site, and it must be a specific, traceable source.
  • Your fact-checking must be transparent, use verifiable sources and methods, and have citations to primary sources.
  • You can only implement one ClaimReview per page; you can’t create single pages to refute multiple claims, even if they’re all related to the same topic. Or, you can, but only one of them can have the Schema markup attached.
  • Conversely, you can only implement one ClaimReview on one page of your site.

You can’t dedicate multiple pages on your site to refuting the same claim in the same way.

For a healthcare site, most of what this means is that you have to do plenty of citations and links to third-party authorities, you need to make a distinction between claims you’re making and claims you’re fact-checking, and you need to implement the utmost level of transparency. You can’t simply make a claim and have someone else claim to refute it; it all needs to be backed up by external verification.

What Fact Checking Schema Requires

Now let’s look at the technical definitions and properties required for the fact-checking Schema. You can read more about them on Schema.org and Google’s help center page here.

As mentioned above, each page with a fact being checked must have three specific tags, each of which has its own set of properties.

Claim Review

ClaimReview

ClaimReview is the first of the three attributes you need to define. It has three mandatory and three optional properties to add to it.

Mandatory:

  • claimReviewed: This is a text string summary of the claim being reviewed. Generally, Google wants it to be under 75 characters long, to avoid text wrapping on mobile devices. This is just the claim, no judgment of the claim.
  • reviewRating: This is a specific numerical or textual rating for how true or false the claim is. It can be as simple as either “true” or “false,” or it can be a scale of 1-5 where 1 is false, 3 is half true, and 5 is true. You can stick with the default 0-5 star rating scale, or you can define an upper and lower limit with maxValue and minValue. It would be best if you documented your scale somewhere and be consistent throughout your site.
  • url: This is a URL link to the page on your site reviewing the claim; it doesn’t have to be the same page as the page with the ClaimReview and is usually better if it’s not.

Optional:

  • author: This is information about you, the person reviewing the claim being made and fact-checking it. It includes a text name and a URL to your site, which can be a homepage, a contact page, or another system page.
  • datePublished: This is either a date and time or just a date and is the date that your author fact-checked the claim.
  • itemReviewed: this is the same as the Claim being reviewed, as defined below.

Claim

This section is the second part of the ClaimReview schema markup and defines the claim being reviewed. It includes:

  • appearance: This is a link to or textual description of the source of the claim you’re fact-checking.
  • author: This is the definition of the author making the claim you’re fact-checking.

It can be a textual name, or it can be a URL. You can also make multiple appearances/author combos if numerous publications make the same claim.

  • datePublished: This was the date when the original claim was published, or when it became popular, to the best of your knowledge.
  • firstAppearance: This is the date of the first known appearance of the claim, again to the best of your knowledge. It should be a link or description to that first appearance, if possible.

Rating

Rating is the third and final attribute of the ClaimReview meta tags and is mostly used to define your review of the claim.

  • alternateName: This attribute is required (all the rest below are optional) and is the text that defines how you rate the claim. It’s usually something simple like “Mostly True” or “False,” but you can write a longer sentence as long as it starts with a definition, like “Mostly True, but misleading in framing.”
  • bestRating: If you’re using a numeric scale for your true-false meter, this must be the highest number defined.
  • worstRating: A number lower than the above, used for the bottom of the scale.
  • ratingValue: The actual rating of the claim, on the scale defined by the two bounds above, inclusive.
  • name: This is the same as alternateName, and is used if you don’t define alternateName, but Google generally prefers you to use alternateName instead.

Yes, it all looks complicated, but implementing it isn’t that difficult if you use the right tools.

How to Implement Fact Checking Schema

There are two general ways to implement schema on a site: manually or through plugins.

Plugins are generally much easier but are typically paid offerings. We like Rank Math’s Schema module, which costs $60 per year. It’s quick and easy to use and gives you a simple form to fill out to add all of the data as defined above. You can see their full documentation of the process here.

How to Implement Schema

If you prefer a free plugin instead, this GitHub page offers an open-source version.

It hasn’t been maintained recently, though, but it’s an example of how you could generate a plugin yourself instead.

Alternatively, you can do it yourself. There are a bunch of tools and resources that can be helpful if you want to do this.

Alternatively, you can hire a web design and management firm (like us!) to handle it for you. Schema can be disastrous if implemented incorrectly, and the last thing you want is for Google to index incorrect values or to confuse your visitors. Sometimes Schema is straightforward to implement, and other times it can be incredibly complex.

So, after reading all of these steps, is using the fact-checking schema worthwhile for your healthcare site?

This question is a tricky one to answer. On the one hand, it can be. On the other, it can be a lot more effort than it’s worth for websites that can’t benefit from it. It all comes down to the site you’re trying to build and the subject matter involved.

Is Fact Schema Right For You

If you’re a healthcare business primarily focused on SEO and content creation, building authority, and promoting your services, the fact check schema will likely be incidental. You will focus more on evergreen content and less on time-sensitive fact-checking. Fact-checking can still potentially be valuable, but a thousand other sources of value are more worthwhile on an effort to reward basis than fact-check schema. Schema won’t fix your competition problems, but it can potentially help you compete at a higher level.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to build up a centralized resource site and want to fight fake news, misinformation, snake oil, and other healthcare problems, you might use the fact-checking schema heavily. It might be one of your most valuable assets.

So, if a considerable amount of the value of your site comes from refuting claims and providing accurate, verifiable, well-sourced information, then it’s worth implementing. You can see why this is so important and valuable for the healthcare industry; there aren’t many other industries where incorrect claims can damage a broad audience.

If you contact us, we will happily talk about Schema and anything else you need to make your site a success. Just reach out today; we’re always available.

David Curtis
David Curtis
David Curtis is the founder and CEO of Blue Pig Media. With twenty years of successful execution in sales, marketing and operations, for both clients and vendors, he has a bottom line ROI driven mentality rooted in metrics driven performance across highly competitive global corporate initiatives.

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