Google’s John Mueller says a website that is temporarily down is unlikely to negatively impact search results.

This is stated in response to the Reddit chain with the headline: “Can I recover lost Google rankings after nearly five days of downtime?”

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

The owner of the Reddit site notes that their organic search traffic grew steadily before the technical problem took the site offline. When re-introduced, it loses 10,000 organic visits a day.

They have resubmitted their Sitemap, which forces Google to re-index the pages. Then what’s next?

Here is Mueller advises.

Google John Mueller on return on investment after downtime

Yes, Mueller answers whether it is possible to return the investments after the outage. It should last a couple of weeks:

“Sure, it should come back in a week or two. If it lasts longer, the drop won’t come from downtime.”


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

No quality problem

Google will not see this as a quality issue if the site is temporarily down:

“To clarify a bit, this is basically just a technical issue – our algorithms don’t see it as a quality issue.

A website that breaks temporarily is not a sign that the website is bad and does not deserve its visibility. “

There will be no drop in rankings during the first few days

The website will not suffer a drop in ranking at all until it has been gone for a few days.

“If the URL returns HTTP 5xx or the site is unreachable (I think the unreachable belongs here too, but I’m not 100% sure), we’ll try again in the next day. Nothing happens (no crawling or ranking) until a few days has passed. “


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HTTP 4xx = De-indexing

If a website returns HTTP 4xx, Google will begin crawling the pages. Technically, this is not a drop in ranking, but if a page is removed from the index, it cannot get search traffic.

“If a URL returns HTTP 4xx (such as 404, 410, etc.), we’ll start removing those URLs from our directory. The ranking won’t drop, but when the pages aren’t indexed, the total traffic will decrease.”

Mueller estimates that it will take about a week of downtime before the indexed pages decrease significantly.

“Because this is done on a per-URL basis, and because we tend to crawl important URLs (very simplified) more often, you’ll almost certainly see a visible reduction in search traffic when we start dropping URLs.

We re-crawl most URLs from hours to months, so in general, crawling decreases significantly during the first week (5 days are in the right place) and decreases over the following months (such as we crawl and drop the remaining pages). “

Pages are re-indexed in the same place

When a site returns online, provided it happens within a few days of the site ceasing, its important pages will return the fastest.

Mueller says that when pages return to the Google index, they will soon return to the same rankings as before.

“When things come back (assuming this is between days and weeks and not months after they drop), it usually happens because we try important pages again a little more often, they come back a little faster.

When they return to the directory, they are usually exactly the same as before, but it may take some time before all the signals are reconnected to it, and depending on how much the site was rejected, the internal link, etc. will need to return first. “

Google may protect sites that go down

Based on Mueller’s experience, website recovery after a crash, he believes Google may have safeguards in place to protect sites from downtime.


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“In the cases I’ve looked at, returning after downtime is usually faster than interrupting due to downtime.

I assume (too lazy to check / ask) that we have some protection against the index falling (slow crawl rate down), and when things come back, we get excited and try to get it back as quickly as possible (raise the crawl rate above normal). “

If the investment does not return, there may be another problem

If the rankings don’t return five days after the site has been online, Mueller says it’s likely a sign of another problem. Like an algorithm update.

“If your ranking drops after crawling returns, I assume it’s not because of a crawl issue, but rather because of the awkward timing of quality changes on your site.

We update our algorithms regularly, and our systems re-evaluate sites over time, and even if downtime doesn’t trigger a re-evaluation, it can happen at about the same time anyway. “


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Don’t forget the problem

Finally, Mueller says it’s important not to assume that search rankings will automatically return after a website is temporarily down. It is still a problem that needs to be addressed.

“Don’t assume that a drop in investment after a temporary crawl will fix itself – this is something you need to address, not wait.”

Source: Reddit


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