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Website downtime should not affect search rankings

Website downtime should not affect search rankings

Google’s John Mueller says a site that goes down temporarily is unlikely to have a negative impact on search rankings.

This is stated in response to a Reddit thread titled: “Can I recover lost Google placements after almost 5 days of downtime?”

In short – the answer is yes! But let’s first go over the background details.

The site owner at Reddit notes that their organic search traffic grew steadily before a technical issue took the site offline. After getting it back and running, it has lost 10,000 organic visits a day.

They have resubmitted their Sitemap, which will ping Google to crawl the pages again. After that, what’s next?

Here’s what Mueller advises.

Google’s John Mueller on Restoring Placements After Downtime

Mueller answers whether it is possible to restore locations after downtime, and says yes. It should take a few weeks:

“Yes, it should come back in a week or two. If it takes longer, the fall would not be from the downtime. ”


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He elaborates on this in a long follow-up comment that could have been his own blog post. There are takeaways.

Not a quality issue

Google does not consider it a quality issue if a site temporarily breaks down:

“Just to elaborate a little more, this is essentially just a technical problem – it’s not something our algorithms would see as a quality problem.

A site that breaks temporarily is not a sign that the site is bad and does not deserve to be displayed as visible. ”

No ranking in the first few days

A site will not like any ranking at all until it has been down for a few days.

If the URL returns HTTP 5xx, or if the site is unreachable (I think it’s unreachable too, I’m not 100% sure though), we’ll try again within the next day or so. Nothing will happen (no drop in indexing or ranking) until a few days have passed. ”


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HTTP 4xx = Deindexing

If a site returns HTTP 4xx, Google will begin to deindex its pages. Technically, it is not a ranking drop, but if a page is indexed, it cannot get search traffic.

If the URL returns HTTP 4xx (eg 404, 410, etc.), we start deleting these URLs from our index. There is no drop in ranking, but when your pages are not indexed, total traffic drops. ”

Mueller estimates that it will take about a week of downtime until there is a noticeable drop in indexed pages.

“Since this happens per. URL, and since we tend to crawl important URLs (super simplified) more often, you will almost certainly see a visible drop in search traffic when we start dropping URLs.

We crawl most URLs somewhere in the range of hours to months, so you will generally see a noticeable decrease in indexing during the first week or so (your 5 days are in there), where it decreases in the next few months (as we crawl and drop the remaining pages). ”

Pages are re-indexed with the same rankings

When a site comes back online, provided it happens within a few days of the site crashing, its important pages will recover fastest.

Mueller says that when the pages return to Google’s index, they will soon jump back to the same rankings as they had before.

“When things return (assuming this is within a number of days to weeks and not months after they have fallen), it usually happens as we try the important pages a little more often again, they will come back a little faster.

When they return to the index, they are usually back exactly as they were before, but it may take some time for all the signals to be reunited with it, and depending on how much of the site was dropped, the internal connection etc. must also be left first. ”

Google can protect sites that crash

Based on Mueller’s experience of seeing sites recover after crashing, he believes Google may have safeguards in place to protect sites from downtime.


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“In the cases I have looked at, return after downtime tends to go faster than dropout due to downtime.

My guess is (too lazy to check / ask) that we have some protection against falling out of the index (slow crawl rate far down), and when things return, we get excited and try to get it back as soon as possible (increase the throughput above normal). ”

If rankings do not recover, there may be another problem

If placements do not recover after five days when the site was online again, Mueller says it’s probably a sign of another problem. Such as an algorithm update.

“If you see a drop in rankings after indexing is left, I would assume that it is not due to the indexing issue, but rather to an awkward timing of quality changes that are recognized across your site.

We make algorithm updates regularly, and our systems re-evaluate sites over time, and although downtime would not trigger a re-evaluation, it can still happen around that time. ”


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Do not ignore the problem

Finally, Mueller says it is important not to assume that search rankings automatically return after temporary downtime on the site. It is still a problem that needs to be investigated.

“Do not assume that a drop in rankings after a temporary drop in indexing will resolve itself – it’s something you have to tackle, not something to wait for.”

Source: Reddit

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