It shouldn’t be a surprise to say that the impact of COVID-19, the novel Coronavirus, has hit the SEO world too. Search volume for most industries has seen a significant drop, especially for non-essential businesses or businesses that usually rely on in-store traffic. Outside of COVID-19 updates, news has been fairly quiet due to people either not working or working on crisis-related tasks.
In March, Google added several features and updates to help organizations respond to the current epidemic with many changes to Google My Business, schema, and on-site recommendations to signal to customers (and Google) that you’ve paused your business for the time being.
Should You Close Your Site If Your Business is Temporarily Closed?
No! If your goal is to reopen your business as soon as shelter-in-place restrictions are lifted and recovery begins, Google recommends limiting your site’s functionality rather than removing your site completely or making site-wide changes. Disabling your site can result in losing several rankings and hurting your business in the long-run – not to mention, providing a confusing experience to your customers that could result in permanently losing them.
But what does “limiting site functionality” (or pausing) mean? The biggest change you can make right now is disabling any carts, lead forms, or anything that’s meant to generate new business that you aren’t equipped to handle at this time. It’s advised you follow this change up with a site-wide banner or notice about changes to your business to help keep customers and prospects informed.
If your site uses structured data, or schema, be sure to change that to reflect your business’s current hours and situation. Speaking of schema…
Google Adds Structured Data for COVID-19
Google announced and implemented changes to structured data, allowing organizations to create COVID-19 related announcements. However, most features that were added only pertain to medical and governmental centers, like shelter-in-place directives, travel restrictions, and opening testing centers.
Businesses can take advantage of the new feature for announcing temporary hours and shopping restrictions. However, most businesses may find it easier to use Google My Business to indicate this instead since Google also added changes there in a response to the Coronavirus.
Head’s Up: Your Site Should Really be Mobile-Friendly
In something that isn’t COVID-related, Google announced in early March that they plan on having all websites use mobile-first indexing. This isn’t anything new as SEOs have been pushing for mobile-friendly sites for years now, and currently, Google has about 70% of all sites switched over.
If your site is already mobile-friendly, you likely don’t have anything to worry about. However, sites that aren’t should consider switching over now as you can expect reduced crawls and indexing of your site and likely loss of rankings and traffic. If you want to move your site over to being mobile-friendly and need help, contact us to get the process started.