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How Your Website’s Programming Errors and Downtime Affects Rankings

New Video from Matt Cutts on How a Site’s Downtime Affects Ranking

A couple of days ago Matt got a question about what would happen if a website went down for a day, a couple of days or even longer.

If you watch the video above Matt explains that if a site is down, Google continues to ping the domain in an attempt to see if its up. Depending on how often the website is regularly cached in Google, Google will attempt to ping/cache the down site again in a day, few days, week, month or longer.

Google usually is very accommodating to those who might be having site issues. I’ve regularly seen sites listed in search results for weeks after they have been deleted from a server. So, you do have a little flexibility in regards to how much time you have to address any potential site problems. However, if your site is down you really should do everything you can to make sure it is back up in the shortest amount of time possible. While Google is forgiving it’s not perfect and I have seen sites that were down for a short time (a few days) and are removed from the Google index. I’ve also personally had to resubmit a few sites to Google in order for sites to reappear in search results after they were down.

Another reason to make sure that your site always stays up and you have as little downtime as possible is having a site down can affect its placement in Google for your targeted keywords as well as having an affect on how your site shows up in search results.

For instance, if your site has a programming error or just crashes for one reason or another you might typically get an error of some kind. Below is an example of what might happen if you don’t fix any problems with your site as soon as you can:

As you can see from the image above, the website www.florenceal.org has a section on their site that has a programming/database issue. Subsequently, since they have not addressed this issue yet the error has been indexed in Google. You can see that the title of the site as well as the description have been replaced with an error message. While this is just a simple example and does not affect florenceal.org’s main page since the error is only found on a couple of pages, it does represent what will happen to a site that has site-wide programming/database problems. It’s imperative to make sure all your pages on your website are free from programming issues.

How can you avoid any potential indexing problems? Well, you typically want to avoid the use of any “Under Construction” or “Coming Soon” type of solutions. The best way to handle a site problem is to have a static version of your site that you can revert to if you have any programming problems. Whether you have a simple blog or a sophisticated e-commerce based website you should always have an index.html page you can put up in case of problems. The index.html should mimic a lot of what is already on your home page and should look as close to it as possible. It should contain as many of the internal links and external links as possible also. You can include a graphic and some paragraph text to inform visitors of your site difficulties.

Having a static replacement home page to show in times of site issues will allow you to convey your site problems to visitors as well as to let Google know that your site is still up and hasn’t changed. The static index.html page will allow you to keep the title and description that shows in Google results the same as well as to help to minimize the possibility of losing rankings for your important keywords.

Lastly, Google loves speedy, fast and error free websites. So you should really try to address any programming errors you have immediately or else you risk dropping in the search results.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below or contact Steffan. Thanks.

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I design with an eye towards the aesthetic and I approach every project by asking "what's the best way to attract the most qualified visitors?" Every project I complete follows web standards and best practices for ensuring eventual top rankings for relevant keyword terms. Ask me about my las vegas seo, boca raton seo and los angeles seo services.
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Steffan Haeberle
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