Google has issued a number of guidelines and helpful FAQs for website owners to try to minimize the damage caused by online and offline shutdowns due to the corona virus pandemic worldwide.
The company states that the most important piece of advice that can be given is to avoid deactivating a website altogether as long as it is possible to continue paying hosting fees. Some domain registrars, such as GoDaddy and Namecheap, offer support to customers who are concerned that they will not be able to maintain websites that are affected by the shutdowns. According to Google, deactivating a website can affect the search ranking if it is brought online again.
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“If your situation is temporary and you plan to reopen your online business , we recommend that you keep it. Your website is online and limits its functionality, ”says John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trend Analyst at Google. “You can, for example, mark items as out of stock or restrict the shopping cart and ordering process. This is the recommended approach because it minimizes the negative impact on your website's presence in search. People can still find your products, read reviews, or add wish lists so they can buy them later. “
Some options a website owner should do instead, according to Mueller, are disabling the shopping cart, sending a banner, or some other form of notice to the website to inform customers about restricted features and the Google Search Console tool used to prompt the search engine to re-index the limited number of pages.
Müller says deactivating a site should be the last resort. "This is an extreme measure that should only be taken for a very short period of time (a few days at most), otherwise it will have a significant impact on the website in Search, even if it is implemented properly," he explains. "For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you limit the functionality of your website instead. Remember that your customers may also want to receive information about your products, services and company, even if you are not currently selling anything."
If however, this is necessary, says Müller. There are measures to limit the permanent damage that could be done to the broader visibility of the site:
- If you urgently need to deactivate the site for 1-2 days, provide an information error page instead a 503 HTTP result code back all content, follow the best practices for disabling a site.
- If you need to disable the site for an extended period of time, provide an indexable homepage as a placeholder that users can search using the 200 -HTTP status codes can be found.  If you quickly fade your site in the search you can temporarily remove them from the search while you are considering the options.
At the bottom of the page you will also find a FAQ with further useful information, e.g. B. What happens when you deactivate a site for only a few weeks and how to deal with inventory when you run an e-commerce operation.