Is it ever a good idea to temporarily shut down your website? With many businesses currently closed for the foreseeable future due to the coronavirus pandemic, that’s a question I’ve been asked quite a few times.
People want to cut costs, or simply don’t see the point in marketing when they can’t take on new clients and, at the moment, have no idea when they can start again.
But taking your website offline for a while isn’t a good idea. You may not like paying hosting and maintenance costs for something you don’t feel you’re using right now, but in the longer term shutting down your website for a few months can hurt your business.
It won’t necessarily save you money
Many hosting accounts and domain names are billed annually so you may have already paid for the next few months (and beyond). That means taking your website offline for a while won’t save you any money. You’ll just be paying for a service that you’re not using, which doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.
Plus, if you’re not all that comfortable with the techy side of things, you’ll need to pay your web designer or developer to take your website down then put it back up again later. So rather than saving you money, taking your website offline could end up costing you more.
It hurts your SEO
Taking your website offline for a while can hurt your SEO (search engine optimisation).
Google and the other search engines are regularly crawling the internet looking for new sites and updates to existing sites and if they come to recrawl your site and find it gone, they’ll just see a whole bunch of ‘404 Page Not Found’ errors where your content used to be. They don’t like that.
Your site can then be taken out of search results so that if people are searching for your services or even searching specifically for your company, they’ll have trouble finding you.
And once you turn your site back on you won’t automatically pick up where you left off. If you’ve worked hard on your SEO to get your site ranking high in search results, all that hard work is gone. You’ll likely be starting again from scratch to build up your ranking.
Which means that even after things go back to normal, you’re back to work and you turn your site back on, people will still have trouble finding your company in search results.
People are still searching for you
Even if you’re not currently trading, people are still searching for you. Trust me on that. People are still buying. Or using their own downtime to plan what they’ll buy when things go back to normal.
Even though you can’t take on new clients now, you could still be taking inquiries and building a wait list for when you’re back to work. But if you take your website offline and people can’t find it anymore, it’ll be your competitors who’ll build their wait lists, not you.
Plus, if you have a blog, podcast or other resources on your site, that content can still be helping people. But if you turn off your site, then anyone who could benefit from your content will either not be able to find your site in search results, or be presented with a ‘404 Page Not Found’ error if they already know the URL and try to visit it. That doesn’t create a good impression of your business.
Don’t stop marketing
Your business may be on hold but your marketing shouldn’t be. When you’re finally able to go back to work, you’re going to want to get back to normal as quickly as possible. And whether by preserving your SEO or attracting new inquiries, keeping your site online in the meantime will help you do that.
Rather than shutting down your website during this time, can you make it generate more income for you instead? With so many people now working from home, many businesses are moving their offline services online and there are ways you can adapt your website to help you do that too. In this post you’ll find a whole bunch of ideas for how you can turn your offline services into online ones, plus the tools to make it happen.
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