Taking a website offline is one of the main concerns of almost every webmaster. Not only do you have the fact that you are losing traffic to your site and your visitors are instead going to your competition, but there is also the very real issue of how it affects your Google rankings.
The question was raised during the last hours of office of Google webmasters. John Mueller recommends using a 503 if possible when you need to take your website offline.
But what if you can’t serve Googlebot a 503 and it ends up thinking the whole site is 404 and maybe permanently offline? Mueller explained exactly how Googlebot manages a website that it discovers to be offline when a 503 server code is not provided.
Regarding that situation where maybe 500 errors were showing or the server was down, this is something that when we crawl these pages again, we can again account for them, index them and categorize them as we do. were doing before.
So it’s not something where we artificially withhold a website, but it’s more of a technical issue that we have to re-explore these pages and recognize that they are correct and put them back in our index with the old signals that we had. .
To some extent, we try to recognize some sort of failure when we see it happening and keep these pages in our index anyway, just because we think maybe it’s temporary and the website will be. back soon, so some of that might have worked here. but part of it could be that we re-crawl these pages a bunch of times and they gave up and we don’t have them for ranking anymore.
The good part here is that if we recognize that a page is important enough for your website, we will usually crawl it a bit more frequently. So if it comes off the index because of a failure like this, we’ll usually crawl it a bit more frequently and integrate it a bit faster than if we would with a random page on your site. Web that has never changed for the past few years.
I guess it’s something like that where if you have to shut down the server for a day you could see maybe a week, two weeks, at most maybe three weeks where things are sort of going downhill. change and settle down again, but it shouldn’t take much longer than that.
So if possible serve Googlebot a 503, but if that is not possible, until your website is down for a long time, it should not affect your website too much except for the first few weeks afterwards. downtime.
Jennifer Slegg is a longtime speaker and search engine marketing expert, working in the industry for almost 20 years. When not sitting at her desk writing and working, she can be found having latte at her local Starbucks or planning her next trip to Disneyland. She is a regular speaker at Pubcon, SMX, State of Search, Brighton SEO and more, and has been present at conferences for over a decade.