Despite the world being in lockdown and many working from home, there’s no such thing as a no news day for Google, with plenty of interesting SEO developments to digest. Here’s a roundup of what happened in March.
Google recommends companies limit and not disable their sites during temporary closures
Many companies have been forced to temporarily close due to the lockdown. Google has offered advice to those companies. They’ve published recommendations looking at how to properly limit your site’s functionality if operations need to be put on hold.
Why shouldn’t you disable your whole site?
Disabling your site could make it harder to bounce back when the lockdown is over. Even if just for a few days, it can harm your visibility. You still want people to find your site, learn more about your business and your offering. A full turning off will make getting going again a whole lot harder.
What if you have to take your site down?
Disabling your site should be a last resort but if you need to, Google has recommended the following:
- For a temporary takedown, use the Search Console Removals Tool.
- If you take down your site for one or two days, you can return an informational error page with a 503 Service Unavailable code.
- For longer site takedowns, put up an indexable homepage placeholder for searchers using the 200 HTTP status code.
We can help you
If you’re looking to keep your site running and maintain your SEO performance, get in touch with our SEO team. We’re more than happy to have a chat with you to ensure you maintain your rankings and visibility in the down-time.
Check out SEO: Planning for the Future and Now to find out about our free one hour SEO consultancy.
Google adds performance report and email preferences to Search Console
In late March Google announced that they’re launching new features in Search Console. This included a new way to choose whether to show the performance data for your website in the search results. They now also let you choose your email preferences.
What are the performance data controls?
You can now choose if you want to show performance data for your website directly in the search results. You can see an example below from Search Engine Land:
This essentially gives you a dashboard displaying performance statistics in the search results. Over time this should highlight the importance of building a healthy and successful website. It will also help people to understand how useful the Search Console can be.
Search Terms and Companies profit from Coronavirus
One thing that has been fascinating to look at is the search trends that have come out of the Coronavirus. With some people and companies seeing search volume explode. Below are some of the search terms that have found a huge increase in search volume:
It’s unsurprising to see video call software Zoom has shot up in search volume with virtually everyone using it to keep in contact with their team and enjoy down-time with family and friends.
Fitness guru Joe Wicks has seen a massive surge in search volume thanks to his home fitness YouTube videos helping keep the masses fit and healthy from the comfort of their living room.
With sunnier weather and restrictions in place, many have turned to their garden to keep themselves occupied.
Check out Google Search Trends to see how March affected your industry.
Google switch to mobile-first indexing by September 2020
Google recently announced that, as of September 2020, all websites will be crawled and indexed by Google using mobile-first indexing. You can ensure your site has switched to mobile-first by logging into your Search Console account. Google stated,
“From our analysis, most sites shown in search results are good to go for mobile-first indexing, and 70% of those shown in our search results have already shifted over,”
How do you know if your site has switched?
All you need to do is head to the settings section of Search Console where you can see which Googlebot is crawling your site. For example, “Googlebot Smartphone” or “Googlebot Desktop”. If it says “Googlebot Smartphone”, you should also be able to see the date that you switched. You can see an example below:
Bing launch Coronavirus tracker
Bing has launched a COVID-19 tracker that displays the number of cases on a worldwide basis. The figures can be broken down by nation and into active, recovered, and fatal cases.
Bing has also integrated a tracker into their live results pages for anyone searching for “Coronavirus” related information. You can see an example of the new interface below:
Do you need help with your website?
If you’re unsure what any of these changes mean for your website or need help with your SEO strategy moving forward, then do not fear. We’re an SEO agency that’s dedicated to keeping you ahead of the game.
Email email@example.com to speak to our team or use the link below to find out about our free SEO audit.