If your website is unavailable for more than a few days, Google will begin to remove your pages from search results.
This was stated by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout on December 10th.
Aakash Singh, an SEO, joined Livestream to ask Mueller how he can reduce the impact on search rankings while his client’s website is down for more than a week.
Unfortunately for Singh and his client, taking a website offline for a week will harm its SEO and search rankings.
Mueller claims that if a website’s pages become inaccessible, they will be de-indexed in a matter of days.
Mueller then suggests a different approach to dealing with planned downtime, but this does not guarantee that no harm will be done in the short term.
You can read his entire response in the section below.
John Mueller of Google discusses the SEO Implications of Website Downtime
If a website is down for more than a few days, whether planned or unplanned, it will be impossible to avoid negative effects on search rankings.
“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.”
The key takeaway here is that the impact of prolonged downtime will outlast the outage itself.
Your pages will not reappear immediately, and when they do, there will be significant fluctuations in search rankings before things stabilize.
“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 should a website do if it is unavailable for an extended period of time?
Mueller suggests creating a static version of the site to which users can be directed if the main site is down.
However, if at all possible, keep the outage to no more than a day.
“… that could be something like 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.”
Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:
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