31st March 2020
What important website information should you update during the Coronavirus pandemic for Google and users?
Edit information directly on your website, ensuring it covers changes to business operations due to COVID-19.
Update contact information on Google My Business profiles, other online directories and Social platforms.
Update structured data to reflect changes to events and product availability where applicable.
To find out more about how and why you should make these updates, carry on reading…
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty not only to our everyday lives but to businesses from all industries. Therefore, in a time of many unknowns, it is more important than ever that businesses can rapidly and clearly communicate changes to their customer base. In the current situation, many of the population are reliant on the internet to find guidance and information about businesses, and so it is imperative that your online presence is up to date and clearly explains how your business is adapting to changes brought on by the pandemic.
Depending on the type of your business, you will need to make several checks to ensure your online information is current. These will include editing opening hours, contact information, stock availability, changes to delivery and updates to events which have been cancelled or will be virtual.
Not all of the steps below will be relevant to your business, however, checking the following will help you to ensure that you are providing the answers to your customers questions during this time of rapid change.
Making Changes on your Website
It is important to ensure that the content on your website is up to date and can explain how your business may have had to change its standard way of operating. There are several ways to convey this information using your website, so that you can directly address any queries customers may have:
- Update your contact page, ensuring that the telephone number is still contactable (as you may no longer be in your offices) and that your opening hours are up to date.
- If possible, it can be helpful to users if you edit the header or navigation so that information regarding COVID-19 can be obviously seen and navigated to from all areas of the site. For example, you could add a heading to the navigation, which links to a blog post or dedicated Coronavirus page.
- If you have an FAQs page on your site, you should add questions and answers explaining any changes to your business operations, delivery services and even reassuring your customers about safety procedures that you have implemented. The types of questions customers want answered will be different for each business, therefore it is good to check with your customer services team to find out the types of queries they have been receiving.
- Add a blog post or new page dedicated to COVID-19 (especially if you do not have an FAQs page on which to address the pandemic).
Google My Business
Your Google My Business profile is often where customers go to find out information about your business, as it is displayed on the Search Engine results pages, before the customer even gets to your website. Therefore, it is essential that the information on your profile is up to date.
- Update contact numbers and opening hours as you have on your website.
- Indicate if your business is temporarily closed.
- Update your description on Google My Business to include business changes due to COVID-19.
- Add questions and answers to your Google My Business profile answering regularly asked questions about how COVID-19 affects normal business procedures.
- Create Google Posts to keep customers notified of any changes to your business and service.
As well as doing this for Google My Business, it is important to also update other online directories and all Social pages belonging to your business.
There are several places on your site that may have structured data implemented, and which may need to be updated or changed due to recent and ongoing changes to your business operations. The structured data most likely to be affected is that Event markup and markup on e-commerce products. Google has added the following new properties for changes to events, and schema.org has introduced a new type of markup for Coronavirus-related updates.
- If an event has been cancelled, you should edit the eventStatus property on the event page to EventCancelled. You should keep the original date in the startDate property.
- If an event has been postponed (to an unknown date), you should edit the eventStatus property on the event page to EventPostponed. Again, you should keep the original date in the startDate property until the event can be marked as rescheduled rather than postponed.
- If an event has been rescheduled (to a set date), you should update the startDate and endDate to reflect the new dates. Alternatively, you can edit the eventStatus to EventRescheduled.
- If an event has been changed from a face-to-face event to an online event, you can update the eventStatus to EventMovedOnline.
- If you are setting up a new online event, you should set the location to VirtualLocation and the eventAttendanceMode to OnlineEventAttendanceMode.
When you make any changes to the markup on your site, you should resubmit the affected pages to Google using Google Search Console.
If you sell products on your site, it is likely that you are using structured data markup on your product pages to relay product information such as availability to customers and search engines. Due to the pandemic, many online retailers are out of stock or items are unavailable. It is important to indicate these changes to customers by editing the ItemAvailability type to indicate if a product is OutofStock.
Schema.org has introduced a new type of schema designed to communicate urgent crisis-related information, with the aim to help businesses to provide clarity in the search results about everyday practical information regarding their business. This was created predominantly for organisations such as schools, pharmacies, police and local governments to associate announcements with COVID-19.
We hope you have found this quick guide to updating important website information useful. If you have any further questions, contact the experts at Varn.