Are you in a situation where you need to pause business activity during these difficult times?
Google has provided a few considerable options on how to do so in a Google/User-friendly way. And if you plan to re-open in the near future, it’s important to plan ahead and ensure you don’t lose your rankings and equity on Google. Or at least – minimise these losses.
Instead of shutting your website down – turn off some functionality.
1. Out-Of-Stock – Instead Of Removing Products
If your business is an E-commerce, consider marking your products as out of stock instead removing them from the website. Users will still be able to browse your products, read all the information provided and potentially come back for a purchase when it is available. Additionally, by keeping all the information on the website you also allow Google to crawl the site and rank your products for relevant terms.
2. Disable Shopping Cart
By only disabling your shopping cart/checkout process you allow your website to be accessible with all the relevant information to users and Google.
3. Structured Data Updates
If you are using structured data, don’t forget to update it to reflect any changes made on the site. Additionally, Google is encouraging to use structured data even more during these uncertain times to provide the most accurate information to users. It has also released new structured data options for COVID-19 related updates ‘special announcements’ and ‘event attendance mode’, read more about it here.
4. Additional information On The Site
Add an immediate user update message about your business situation when entering the site, it could be a pop-up message, a site-wide banner. Make sure you open with your customers and are providing relevant information regardless of whether it is a temporary shut down or only a partial functionality and service limitation. When implementing interstitials, don’t forget to implement it within Google guidelines.
5. Business Events
If you have any future events planned, make sure that you mark them as postponed, closer or virtual (if that’s an option).
Google highly discourages anyone, planning to get back into business, from disabling their entire website. It is suggested that such drastic options should come as a last resort and be thoroughly planned.
However – If you absolutely need to shut your website down, it is recommended to do so for 1-2 days maximum. Otherwise, it will start negatively impacting your site’s presence in search.
Use 503 status code on an information error page while allowing the crawler to crawl the robots.txt file – follow Google’s advice on best practices for disabling the site.