Websites getting down due to technical issues is one of the greatest nightmares of webmasters. You may be afraid that how website downtime affects your search engine rankings if your website is not working during times of high traffic or when Googlebot is crawling. But that is not true.
There likely won’t be any negative impacts on search rankings if your website goes down. Let us take a look at the details.
A webmaster once posted a Reddit thread where he asked whether he could get back his lost Google rankings after his website was down for five days? He also stated that his website was growing steadily before a technical glitch affected it. After he had put his website back up, he had lost 10k daily organic visits.
As for now, they have resubmitted the sitemap. It will ping Googlebot to crawl the pages again. Let’s see what to do next.
John Mueller, a senior webmaster trends analyst of Google, says that it may take a couple of weeks, but you can recover your rankings after downtime. If it takes longer than that, then website downtime isn’t responsible for the decrease in ranks. He gave some more advice on this issue.
It Is Not A Quality Issue
If a website is down for some reason, Google does not consider it as a poor-quality website. Technical issues are not considered as a quality problem by their algorithm. So, it will be shown in the search results.
He also talked more about this issue in a follow-up comment which can act as a blog entry itself. Here are some of the highlights from that reply.
Ranks Won’t Drop In The First Few Days
Although unsure, John said that if your website’s URL returns HTTP 5xx or the algorithm sees that the website is unreachable, it will try the next day again. There will be no changes in your ranks for the first few days.
What If Your Website Returns HTTP 4xx Codes
If your website returns HTTP 4xx codes like 404, 410, etc., then the position of your website will drop in the index. This won’t affect your ranking, but your organic visits will decrease.
You will see a noticeable drop in your indexed pages after about one week of downtime. So, you have plenty of time to get your server back up and running.
Your Pages Will Get Re-Indexed If Rankings Remain The Same
If your website comes back online after a few days of going down, your pages will recover fastest.
If your website comes back online after a week, Google tries to check the important pages a bit more often. This allows those pages to come back to the index a bit faster. It may take some time, but they usually get back to the exact rank in the index they were placed before.
There Is A Chance Google Will Protect Your Site
John Mueller shared with us his experience, saying that Google may have some safeguards that protect websites from going down the index due to downtime. According to his guess, Google’s protections allow websites to go down the index slowly. It will also help a website to go up the index quickly once it is back online.
What Happens If Rankings Don’t Improve After Weeks
If you see that your rankings haven’t improved after five days of being online, then something else is the problem.
According to Mueller, this issue may have happened because the website went down at the wrong time. Google makes algorithm updates regularly, and there is a chance that your website was down during the update, which may cause a problem during evaluation.
What Should You Do About It?
John Mueller gave us one final piece of advice. It is better not to assume that your search engine rankings will improve automatically once you get your website running. Your ranks may go down for other reasons as well. So, it is better to address the issue instead of waiting it out.