Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Server Outage?A Clear Negative Signal Telling Search Engines Of Your Bad Reputation

I'm sure all webmaster have already experienced server outage - be it planned or unplanned.

As SEOs,we surely will rethink its impact on the SERP of the site.

Not long ago,at Google Webmaster Central Forum,a debate attracted a lot of attentions of SEO professionals and webmasters.

The focus of the debate is whether a server downtime or outage that lasts several hours may have negative impact on the site's SERP.
Server outages to me is quite often seen.And each time I saw drastic drop of rankings for almost all optimized keywords of my site(s).By then,I just sense the connection between the outage and ranking drop.But I have no evident proof.

Today,Google published a post,How to deal with planned site downtime,tell we webmasters what possible impact a server outage may have and the suggested solution.

In the article,Tomer Honen and Kaspar Szymanski clearly stated:

Sometimes downtime is unavoidable: a webmaster might decide to take a site down due to ongoing site maintenance, or legal or cultural requirements. Outages that are not clearly marked as such can negatively affect a site’s reputation
Note this:"Outages...can negatively affect a site's reputation".This is a clear signal and a proof of my ranking drop experience.

Previously,SEOmoz.org has had this article,giving the advices from top SEO experts on search ranking factors.In this article server problem was pinned as the top 5 NEGATIVE ranking factor.I think Google's post today is a solid back up to the experts' prediction which they should be proud of.

Google,after comparing different counter-measure for server outages,suggested us using a 503 HTTP result code (Service Unavailable).This code will tell the spider that the downtime is temporary and it can come back later.

This,however,will require at least one backup server to serve this code.But I think the cost is acceptable for most business.For personal bloggers/site owners (especially start-ups),a stable hosting provider may be the first thing to consider when starting blogging or making money.

Google also warned a permanent 503 may still cause reputation fall.So,do make sure that your outage is short and the site is coming back soon.


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  6. Server issues may last for few hours and not for few days. Does this still have that impact on keyword ranking? If we have the optimized keywords ranking on top of Google, few hours of server issues can make the site ranking sink, IS it possible?

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