In the recent Google’s After-hours Hangout that livestreamed a few days ago, Google’s John Mueller discussed the negative impact on search rankings if a website experienced downtime, whether planned or unfortunate, for more than a few days. Including how Google will begin deindexing the webpages from the search results. Is there a way around it? Unfortunately, no, and yes. A definite no if the website is down for a couple of days; the negative impact will be felt hard. But yes if the downtime is short-lived, say for less than a day.
How does extended downtime impact a website and its SEO?
Mueller was asked by a viewer (an SEO professional) how to minimize the negative SEO impact and drop in search rankings if a website was to undergo a downtime lasting for a week. To which Mueller replied:
“I don’t think you’ll be able to do it for that time, regardless of whatever you set up. For an outage of maybe a day or so, using a 503 result code is a great way to tell us that we should check back. But after a couple of days we think this is a permanent result code, and we think your pages are just gone, and we will drop them from the index.
And when the pages come back we will crawl them again and we will try to index them again. But it’s essentially during that time we will probably drop a lot of the pages from the website from our index, and there’s a pretty good chance that it’ll come back in a similar way but it’s not always guaranteed.”
Extended downtime equals extended and stronger fluctuations.
It’s important to remember that the longer the downtime, longer will be its impact on the website in question with strong fluctuations in search rankings. Mueller added:
“So any time you have a longer outage, where I’m thinking more than a couple of days, I would assume that at least temporarily you will have really strong fluctuations and it’s going to take a little bit of time to get back in. It’s not impossible because these things happen sometimes. But if there’s anything you can do to avoid this kind of outage, I would try to do that.”
What to do if there’s an extended downtime?
Well, the first and foremost thing to do is not to let it happen in the first place. But if it were to happen, Mueller suggested setting up a static version of the main website that users can be redirected to. However, that too shouldn’t last more than a day.
“…setting up a static version of the website somewhere and just showing that to users for the time being. But especially if you’re doing this in a planned way I would try to find ways to reduce the outage to less than a day if at all possible.” concluded Mueller.
Do watch John Mueller’s full response to question at the 4:16 minute mark and may be also stick around for the rest of the discussion for some other valuable insights.
Source: Search Engine Journal