Google says disabling an online business website due to coronavirus should be a last resort


Google has issued a set of guidelines and a helpful FAQ to web site homeowners to try to reduce the harm being performed by worldwide shutdowns, each on-line and off, over the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm says crucial recommendation it may give is to keep away from disabling an internet site altogether, as long as it’s possible to proceed paying the internet hosting charges. Some area registrars, like GoDaddy and Namecheap, are providing help to clients involved they received’t be capable of preserve web sites adversely affected by the shutdowns. But Google says disabling a website could hurt its search rankings when it’s introduced again on-line.

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— Google Webmasters (@googlewmc) March 26, 2020

“If your situation is temporary and you plan to reopen your online business, we recommend keeping your site online and limiting the functionality,” writes John Mueller, Google’s senior webmaster tendencies analyst. “For example, you might mark items as out of stock, or restrict the cart and checkout process. This is the recommended approach since it minimizes any negative effects on your site’s presence in Search. People can still find your products, read reviews, or add wishlists so they can purchase at a later time.”

Some choices Mueller says an internet site proprietor ought to do as an alternative is disabling the purchasing cart, posting a banner or another type of informational discover to the web site to tell clients of restricted performance, and to make use of Google’s Search Console tool to ask the search engine to re-index the restricted variety of pages.

Mueller says disabling a website ought to be a final resort. “This is an extreme measure that should only be taken for a very short period of time (a few days at most), as it will otherwise have significant effects on the website in Search, even when implemented properly,” he explains. “That’s why it’s highly recommended to only limit your site’s functionality instead. Keep in mind that your customers may also want to find information about your products, your services, and your company, even if you’re not selling anything right now.”

If it does must be performed, nonetheless, Mueller says there are measures to restrict the long-lasting harm it may to do to the location’s broader visibility:

  • If you want to urgently disable the location for 1-2 days, then return an informational error web page with a 503 HTTP result code as an alternative of all content material. Make positive to observe the best practices for disabling a site.
  • If you want to disable the location for an extended time, then present an indexable homepage as a placeholder for customers to seek out in Search through the use of the 200 HTTP standing code.
  • If you shortly want to cover your website in Search whilst you take into account the choices, you’ll be able to temporarily remove it from Search.

There’s additionally an FAQ on the backside of the web page with different helpful info, like what occurs for those who disable a website for just a few weeks and deal with stock for those who’re working an e-commerce operation.