As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to grow Google is offering guidance to businesses who want to pause their online activity while reducing the impact on search rankings. It applies to any business with an online presence and is particularly relevant to those businesses that have stopped offering services or products temporarily.

Google’s Recommendations

If you have not closed your business permanently and there are plans to reopen again, then Google recommends to keep your website online and limit the functionality. You can do this by putting items as out of stock or limiting the cart and checkout process. Google insists on following this approach as it reduces any unfavorable effects on a website presence in search results.

Recommendation: Google Now Allow Users  To Customize Their Profile Cards For Search Results

List Of Action Items

  • Inform your customers: Make sure to let your customers stay updated about what’s going on by putting up a banner with necessary information
  • Deactivate the cart: Disabling the cart is one of the easiest ways to pause any business activity without affecting website visibility in search results.
  • Inform Google: Make use of sitemaps or search console to ask Google to crawl your webpages and show the latest information.
  • Update structured data: Set the structured data for stuff such as books, events or products to display their current status (i.e out of stock, canceled, postponed, etc)

Google Does Not Recommend

Google does not ask you to completely disable your website.

Google Does Not Recommend
Image Source: Search Engine Journal

Instead, reduce your website workings as this will ensure Google and your customers that your business is still active. Customers still would want to read about the products which they might buy later. However, If you do not go with Google recommendations and disables your site, here are few options-

  • Make an indexable page as a placeholder, if you want to disable your site for a period longer than 1-2 days
  • Give back an informational error page with a 503 HTTP result code if you want to disable your site for 1-2 days
  •  If you want to hide your site while you think about what to do, you can temporarily remove your site from the search console.



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