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Your Covid-19 Checklist: What about Your Business Website?

15 Jun

So, it’s certainly been an interesting couple of months.

Even for those of us lucky enough to still be in good health, things have still been turned on their heads. Travel plans have gone bust. Routines have been disrupted. Staff are forced to stay at home.

In particular, many are seeing a downturn in business.

While our SEO agency Melbourne can operate without an office or physical contact, many of our clients can’t.

For many, that means making changes to their website, search engine optimisation efforts and digital strategy.

Your next step: here’s what Google recommends

A lot of businesses are doing it tough, and may not make it through the coming weeks or months.

Luckily, yours isn’t one of them.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’re going to escape unharmed. You may have to make changes, even if you aren’t permanently closing.

In that case, there are a couple of things you can do (as well as some things that you shouldn’t!)

DO: disable parts of your website

If you’re planning on temporarily shuttering your doors, you’ll want to make sure that your website reflects this.

One of the first things you should do is disable shopping carts for online shops, and turn off booking portals.

If you’re planning on temporarily shutting down, leaving both of these up will simply cause confusion when a customer clicks one and goes through the process, only to find that their order or booking isn’t being fulfilled.

Best of all, this is a simple change that has absolutely no impact on search engine optimisation – the pages (and their search rankings) will still exist.

DO: change your Google listings

With so many businesses going into hibernation, Google’s had to roll out an update to Google My Business and Google Maps listings: now, you can list your business as “temporarily closed”.

It’s a small difference, but one that has a big impact.

If someone sees your business listed as permanently closed, when you eventually reopen, everyone who saw your listing during the time it was listed as being shut is going to think twice about giving you a call. Are you really open? Better not risk it and call a competitor they know stayed open throughout the pandemic.

Luckily, making this change is simple. When you log into Google My Business:

  1. Click Info.
  2. Click “close this business on Google.”
  3. Mark your status as temporarily closed.

And if you’re staying open on a limited basis, be sure to change your opening hours to reflect this. In addition to changing what hours your profile displays, it’ll also automatically add “Hours or services may differ due to COVID-19” to your listing.

Just be warned: Google may be slow at processing these changes due to volume, so you may also want to get in touch with your customers directly.

Speaking of which…

DO: tell your customers what’s going on

Really, it’s just common courtesy!

Whether you’re temporarily closing, culling certain services or changing your procedure to protect customer health and wellbeing, it’s important that you communicate.

Many of our clients have already taken action on this front by themselves.

Some have put up blog posts or taken to social media to detail new policies, as well as information about what they’re doing to keep customers safe.

Others have asked us to change their homepage banners to include information about their response to the pandemic.

Some have even decided to go direct, sending out email alerts or newsletters to their customer databases.

Whichever approach you decide is best for your business, it’s important to get the word out there. You’ve worked hard to build a customer base of loyal customers and clients – if you want to keep them after the pandemic’s over, they need to know what’s happening with you.

DON’T: disable your website

The only reasons you should ever disable your website is:

  1. If you’ve upgraded to a new website at a new domain
  2. If you’re shutting down for good

Otherwise, your site needs to stay up!

We get it – what’s the point of keeping your site up if you aren’t going to be operating for the next couple of months?

The thing is, taking your site down can have a huge impact on your search engine optimisation.

If your site isn’t up, it isn’t getting indexed. However, your competitors will be. And without your site in the way, they’ll climb the results pages. By the time you reopen and reactivate your site, you may have lost valuable ranking and visibility.

Google adjusts its rankings on an almost daily basis. Even a short time with your site disabled can cause you to lose a lot of your hard-earned gains.

Not only that, but it also impacts your site’s knowledge panel. While some of this information is automatically-generated, a lot is automatically generated using information pulled from your site.

Take your site down, and this information goes with it.

Making the best of a bad situation: the importance of maintaining your SEO throughout the pandemic

For most industries (excepting maybe toilet paper and medical equipment) business is down.

As a result, a lot of your competitors will be cutting their digital marketing spend, including on search engine optimisation.

And that spells opportunity for you.

If you can afford it, we strongly recommend maintaining your SEO strategy.

It doesn’t even have to be at full-capacity – no-one’s going to blame you for switching to a more affordable package or renegotiating your SEO arrangements.

All we ask is you keep something up!

In times like this, it’s crucial that you defend your hard-earned gains. Every potential lead matter.

Not only that, but with many of your competitors stopping their own search engine optimisation for the duration of the pandemic, it can even help you climb the search engine results – something that could be extremely helpful when things eventually cool down.

With so many businesses pausing SEO, anyone who continues stands to make significant gains.

In fact, some of our clients are even taking this opportunity to step up their SEO efforts and aggressively take advantage of the downturn!

When this all blows over, our SEO agency in Melbourne will still be here

It’s important that your customers know where you stand during the pandemic – look at us, for example. We’re still open, and we plan on keeping it that way.

Part of that means ensuring that your website is still up, and that your customers know what’s happening on your end.

Even from our home offices, our team is hard at work helping our clients weather the storm and protect their rankings so that when this all blows over, they’ll be able to hit the ground running and make up for lost time.

If you can’t afford it now, we understand. You’ve got to look after your business, after all.

If you’d like to chat or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.