36 states and the territory of Puerto Rico have ordered non-essential businesses to close their doors. Apparently, some businesses are understanding that to mean that they should shut down their websites. Google says not to do that.
Closing your website will be very bad for SEO
This is stated clearly in the Google blog post linked above. It is certainly true. A thriving website with fresh new high-quality content gets higher rankings and more traffic on a consistent basis, even if the traffic is volatile in the short run. Removing your website from the internet will not have good results for your digital marketing in the long run.
Don’t do that.
Why you might want to close your website
After spending some time brainstorming, we can imagine some situations that might make people feel that they should take down their websites:
- They have an e-commerce site and will not be able to fill orders.
- They are located in a state which is mandating the closure of all non-essential businesses (36 states, as of this writing) and feel that this rule requires them to take down their website.
- For some reason no one will be able to manage or update the website during their business closure.
- They think that leaving their website visible or continuing to do any marketing will look heartless.
- They worry that having a closed shop and an open website will be confusing.
All of these concerns can be handled without shutting down your website.
Your shopping cart
If you are unable to produce or sell the goods you usually sell at your website, you may want to disable your shopping cart, show items as out of stock, or add a message saying that you will accept orders and fill them when you are able.
You could send an email with this information to your customers, too.
A WordPress website using WooCommerce or a similar cart can easily disable the store. The information on your website will still be available to visitors, but they will not be able to shop. Again, it makes sense to add a message to the website explaining why the cart is disabled.
Your nightclub’s website just looks too fun for a pandemic? You don’t have to close down your website. Add a banner saying what you need to say. This should probably include the information that you are closed or have limited hours and services, and a message of encouragement to your visitors.
Businesses that operate primarily online, like Haden Interactive, or essential businesses that are still open may not feel a need to add information, but you might want to reassure visitors or let them know that you are following see practices.
Healthcare providers need to let people know if they should call before coming in, if hours have been changed, or if they are switching to telemedicine.
In fact, any information your business wants to share with the community belongs on your website.
Keeping your website up to date
We’ve spoken with some people who have wanted to add information to their websites but can’t figure out how. In many cases, small businesses are their own webmasters, and the idea of adding a banner explaining curbside pickup is overwhelming. If you’re already having to deal with closing your business, deep cleaning your premises, and sorting out things for your staff, adding website management to the list might not be practical.
Remember, though, companies like ours work online anyway. Even if your local web firm has an office, they will be able to take care of your website remotely without endangering you or your staff or themselves.
In fact, if you have to shut down your business, this could be a perfect time to redesign or otherwise update your website.