We all witnessed the state of chaos among the masses when popular services like Facebook, Instagram & Whatsapp went down recently. As SEO professionals, you might be curious as to what happens in Google Search when a website faces an outage.
Google’s John Mueller has the answers.
Crawling is Slowed Down
As evident from Google’s developer docs, when your website is down, the Googlebot cannot reach your server. Connection resets, network timeouts, or DNS errors can be the underlying causes. Googlebot classifies all of these factors as 5xx errors.
In such scenarios, Google immediately starts slowing down the crawling of your website. Because it is certain that the server will be unable to handle the requests, causing a server overload. You may see a significant impact on your crawl rates.
Will Rankings be Affected?
John Mueller assured that the URLs will remain indexed as they were. This means that your rankings will not suffer. Your website will continue to rank based on your previously indexed pages.
However, this state is only temporary. If your website continues to face an outage for more than 1 to 2 days, Google will start dropping your URLs from Indexing as well. It’s important to note that Google will not consider your website to be of low quality.
Even so, if your page isn’t indexed on Google’s SERP, you won’t be able to rank, which is concerning.
There's no direct ranking change when this happens – we don't see the site as being low-quality or similar, but if those URLs aren't indexed, they can't rank either.
— johnmu is not a chatbot yet 🐀 (@JohnMu) October 5, 2021
What Happens After the Website is Up Again?
Once your website is up and running again, the Googlebot will quickly be able to crawl your pages. All the URLs that were dropped from Indexing due to the outage, will be re-indexed again. You can expect your rankings to be restored as well. However, this would depend on a number of factors.
When a business experiences an outage, it is a difficult situation. Working on a fix and getting your website back up and running is the only option. It is a sign of relief that Google gives you 2 days to fix the issues, without it affecting your rankings.
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