How Your Website Downtime is Tracked by Google

Most website owners and managers know that website downtime can indeed affect your search engine rankings as far as Google is concerned. With Google dominating the search market with about two-thirds of all search engine traffic, it’s no wonder website owners can be frenzied into a panic when they think about any amount of downtime affecting their hard-won search engine ranking. However, what many don’t realize is that a short bout of downtime doesn’t automatically mean that your Google ranking will suddenly take a dive. So, if not all instances of downtime will affect your Google search ranking, how exactly does Google track your downtime? Here are some facts to keep in mind when considering how your downtime affects your ranking with Google.

First the Good News

It wasn’t that long ago that the combined words of “Google algorithm” and “website downtime” would be cause for serious concern. The monthly indexing by Google’s bots would indeed create an immediate drop in rankings if your site happened to be down during the indexing, and that drop could be very hard to reverse. Fortunately, Google has realized the error of their ways and just because your site goes down for 15 minutes while the Google bots happen to be crawling your site at that very moment doesn’t mean your site’s rankings will automatically drop.

Looking at it From the Perspective of Google

So how exactly will Google respond to your website’s downtime? First let’s look at it from the Google bot’s point of view. The bot probably doesn’t know why your site is down and it really doesn’t care. You may be having server issues. You may be performing maintenance. It may just be that your web host is inferior. Whatever the cause, Google is focused on producing quality search results for its visitors. As such, they design their algorithms to determine which sites provide high-quality content and which sites do not. If your content isn’t available when the bots crawl, then Google can’t deem it to have the great content that they want to deliver. With that being said, they do realize that even the best sites (Amazon, Facebook, etc.) can and do go down. As such, if your site only goes down for a couple of hours your search rankings won’t take a hit. Now if your site goes down for a few days, on the other hand, that’s another story.

So Exactly How Much Downtime is Too Much in the Eyes of Google?

To understand how much downtime is too much, you must understand how the bots work. If they crawl your site only to find it unavailable, they’ll crawl it again within 24 hours and check back. If your site is up and running when the bot comes back, no harm no foul. If, however, the bot comes back once or twice and you’re still down? That’s when your rankings are going to take a dive.

Avoiding Search Ranking Penalties Due to Downtime

So, what can you do to avoid search ranking penalties due to downtime? Utilizing a quality website monitoring service so you know the moment your site goes down so no time is lost is top priority. Putting tools like webhooks in place to redirect your DNS to a working server if you can’t control the downtime due to your hosting provider is another plan you can put in action. Whatever you do, it’s best to try to keep your downtime to less than 24 hours if you don’t want Google dropping your ranking. Protecting your SEO investment is yet another way in which a quality website monitoring service can actually more than pay for itself. The sooner you learn about website downtime the sooner you can go to work to fix it and automated webhooks can protect you as well, keeping you well within that 24 hour window when your site does go down, ensuring the bots don’t penalize you for it. Alertra is your best choice for 24/7 monitoring and minimization of penalties.