As the global effects of the coronavirus pandemic take hold, businesses are looking to reduce or pause their online activities. Here we talk you through some of the best practices you should employ to make sure that you are still present for your customers and that you minimise any adverse effects on Google Search for the health and rankings of your website.

Limiting the functionality of your website

If you plan on pausing because you can no longer sell your products and services due to the outbreak, but are planning to reopen after the pandemic, we recommend that you keep your website online but limiting the functionality.

Actions such as marking your products as ‘out of stock’ or restricting the checkout process are good practice. This still allows potential customers to find your products, read information and reviews about the product and add it to their wishlist so that they can buy it at a later date.

Disabling the cart functionality on the website is the most straightforward approach, allowing your customers the same access to your website without affecting the visibility of your site in Search.

You should also tell your customers what is going on by displaying a prominent banner on the website with information on your business’s status. Telling customers upfront about potential shipping delays, pick-up or delivery options means that they have informed expectations moving forward.

It is also a good idea to tell Google about any updates by asking them to recrawl the website. For a limited number of pages such as the home page, you can use Search Console to do this, but for a larger number of pages, we recommend using sitemaps.

Why disabling your whole website is a bad idea!

We have already seen numerous websites adopt this extreme approach, but even if this is done right, this should only be implemented for a few days at the very most or it could have a significant effect on the website’s visibility and rankings in Search.

Not only will disabling your website mean that your customers can no longer access the information, it also means that the search engines can’t see that information either, and could start deindexing your website pages from their rankings.

Here, we go into more detail of the side effects of disabling your website for the functionality of the site:

Additional considerations

Although you may have been forced to pause your online activities, there are other considerations to take into account to both keep your customers informed on your business status and to help your website to stay visible and in a strong position to move forward after the pandemic.

There are lots of resources out there to help businesses through this hard time; our website has helpful advice and information on a wide range of topics including Tips for Working From Home and Why now isn’t the time to completely stop your online marketing.

We realise that for many businesses who have had to pause their online operations or have a workforce now working from home, it can be a confusing and stressful time, but we are here to help.

Like everyone, we hope that this pandemic ends as soon as possible and that we can all return to our normal lives as quickly and painlessly as possible, but in the meantime, we hope that the information shared here will help your business.

If you need any additional advice or help with your own website, don’t hesitate to get in touch and see how we can help.

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