Google will begin to deindex your pages from search results if your website experiences more than a couple of days of downtime.
This is stated by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller during the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on December 10.
An SEO named Aakash Singh called in to the livestream to ask Mueller how he can minimize the impact on search rankings while his client’s website is down for over a week.
Unfortunately for Singh and his client, it’s not possible to take a website down for a week without any negative impact to its SEO and search rankings.
If a website’s pages become inaccessible then it will only take a matter of days before they start to get de-indexed, Mueller says.
Mueller goes on to suggest an alternative method for handling planned downtime, but it still doesn’t guarantee no harm will be done in the short term.
Read his full response in the section below.
Google’s John Mueller On The SEO Impact Of Website Downtime
If a website is down for longer than a few days, whether it’s planned or unplanned, it won’t be possible to prevent 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.”
A key takeaway here is that the impact of extended downtime will last longer than the duration of the outage.
Your pages won’t come back immediately, and when they do there will be strong fluctuations in search rankings before things settle down.
“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 during an extended outage?
One way to handle it, Mueller says, is to set up a static version of the site that users can be directed to while the main site is down.
If possible, however, the best thing to do is make sure the outage lasts for less 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:
Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral, December 2021.