back to article Google warns against disabling websites during Coronavirus pandemic

As companies shut their doors against the coronavirus outbreak, Google has released a set of guidelines to website owners on how to minimise the long-terms effects on their business's search ranking. An important step, Google says, is to not disable your website altogether. Although business owners might find it tempting to …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Yes, Google

    This is absolutely the time to worry about website rankings. Congratulations for reminding us that you exist.

    1. Craig 2

      Re: Yes, Google

      Gotta keep the revenue from those bot advert impressions coming in! Can't do that if the website is offline...

    2. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

      Re: Yes, Google

      Perhaps it isn't, but once life goes back to normal, or as normal as it can get, the companies this advice is for are going to appreciate it. Given that companies are going to suffer financially due to lock-downs, it will be in their best interest their website rankings won't be affected by closing the website down, partially or fully. Otherwise they will end up losing even more money, when they could have avoided it.

      But if they ignored it and their company suffers as a result, then G-man can go ahead and say "we told you so".

      I say, as someone who has f-all knowledge of SEO and web rankings.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Yes, Google

        I also know f-all about SEO the way Google ranking works, but if Google cared wouldn't it be better for them to just freeze the rankings as of now and turn off the ranking algorithms until things have settled down a bit?

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: turn off ranking?

          But that would make sense, a sense that on a side note inherently reminds you that Google sucks, and that no matter how hard you work to make things your customers want you're still blackmailed by Google to play by their "rules" when on the internet, rules they won't clearly tell you about, or else.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Yes, Google

          But then next month's new WHO web site about hos to cure coronavirus wouldn't be indexed at all.

          Also: the whole world isn't closed down. China is starting up again, which admittedly isn't Google's best business relationship, but... Also, the president of Brazil insists that the Amazon is open for business, if you want to buy rare wood, endangered animal species, and lost tribes who claim to have been made suddenly homeless - someone must be logging this activity. :-)

  2. macjules Silver badge

    Google warns against disabling websites during Coronavirus pandemic

    Spoken like a true advertising agency. Next up: "We need to monitor everyone to ensure social distancing during this crisis" (© Facebook, Google, Twitter et al)

  3. Claverhouse Silver badge

    I stopped concerning myself with web-rank back when SEO became a thing.

  4. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Hmmmm

    Google has released a set of guidelines to website owners on how to minimise the long-terms effects on their its business.'s search ranking.

    FTFY

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Using a 503HTTP or 200HTTP page is probably worse than temporarily closing your site, most people don't read the page or even understand the message, they just think the site is broken and go elsewhere.

    Google are only worried about their bank account rankings.

    1. MatthewSt Bronze badge

      You can customise a 503 to look however you want. You could make it so that it returns your standard website formatted page that just says "we're not taking orders at the moment". The human doesn't need to know that it's returning a 503

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Register oops

      The Register is quoting poorly. "This is the recommended approach" refers to leaving your web site running and just either modifying or removing the "shopping basket" part, or marking all of your goods as "out of stock pending the miracle that President Trump promised, that he goes away" or something like that. It does not refer to changing your web site to 503 or 200 or 911 on every page.

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Website owners warn Google

    Google, now that most people are playing games and watching videos on-line, this would be a good time to fix your crappy search algorithms and actually make google search work again instead of just serving up vaguely relevant adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Website owners warn Google

      They should also un-obsfucate their code.

      It should be possible to block any object type (i.i. People Also Ask) because some of us know and understand that more than 50% of their userbase are stupid (i'd suggest its closer to 80%) so telling us what stupid people ask is collosal waste of time, bandwidth, and screen real-estate.

      Signed

      A user who's been using the Internet since before the concept of a search engine

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Website owners warn Google

      Or leave out a vital word.

      As in Housecats pet-food Tuna Brazil

      = Housecats pet-food -Tuna -Brazil.

      .

      .

      Not to mention they have entered the Final Endgame of Google Search, whereby all the top entries, and most of the rest are geared to commerce.

      Historical Development of Roman Swords over 5 centuries

      = Buy replica Roman Swords at [Amazon][Walmart][Home Depot] ad infinitum

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Website owners warn Google

        " Geared to commerce"

        Almost every search I make on google here in Spain, returns somewhere in the top ten results a link to Amazon.de that has my search terms in it, if you click on the link 99.99% of the time they have close to it for sale. My thinking is Amazon had paid for bots to intercept search terms just to get you to their site. I will only click on Amazon for amusement now, they rarely have what I am looking for and if they do, it seems to be overpriced

      2. ThatOne Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Website owners warn Google

        > whereby all the top entries, and most of the rest are geared to commerce

        Why, you expected relevant results? Relevant to whom? Those results are relevant to Google's clients, and since they are the ones paying, they are the only ones who matter.

      3. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Website owners warn Google

        Or leave out a vital word.

        As in Housecats pet-food Tuna Brazil

        = Housecats pet-food -Tuna -Brazil.

        Or the one that I encountered yesterday, doing a search that included "krb5-config" (even placed in quotes in the search) was giving me results for "krb5.conf". And the latter was outright highlighted in the search results, so I *know* that's what they searched for.

        They need to add an option to their search API, something that says "search for *exactly* what I tell you, not what you delusionally *think* I was searching for, you dimwitted squirrel".

        I guess they're presuming if they stick their heads far enough up their arse they won't contract COVID-19.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Website owners warn Google

          There used to be more options like that, but to be honest I haven't looked for the "Advanced" options for a while. I interpret it as that normally, giving the user what may be what they want but isn't exactly what they asked for, is a better guess.

          I wonder if hexadecimal ASCII codes are interpreted such as %20 for space, the only one I remember at the moment, if you want to see "Covid 19" not "Covid-19". But "COVID-19" is the "correct" form anyway.

          Anyway shouldn't you go to your-krb.com and search there for your choice of whatever a krb is? Poor old Google has to deal with users who want the latest news from "My 7 Favourite Kerb Stones of the week" and particularly like to see Kerb 5, "Best Foreign Kerb Stone" - whatever "foreign" means anyway given that the web site owner is in New Zealand...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. Google warns against disabling websites

    in response: Google, I fart in your general direction. Your "advice" is a hamster, and your search result smell of elderberries.”

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would have thought a temporary 302 redirect to a "bugger off" page would have been better?

    Although I would also have thought that Google would give websites a bit of leeway.

  9. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

    Quoting Google:

    "Ramping up again will be harder as your website will need to be re-indexed, and it might not appear in search results in the same way as it did before the disable."

    1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      Re: "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."

      "Ramping up again will be harder as your website will need to be re-indexed, and it might not appear in search results in the same way as it did before the disable."

      So their search results could suck even more than they already do? Is that even possible???

  10. CommanderGalaxian
    Mushroom

    Nuke Google From High Orbit.

    Am I alone in seeing the real problem here!?

  11. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Giving advice to others?

    Maybe Google could disable some of their GCP customers that are hosting phishing sites, botnet controllers, e-mail spammers, SMS spammers, and brute-force attackers? I'm very close to putting 35.224.0.0/12, 35.208.0.0/12, 35.240.0.0/13 in the router's firewall.

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