Effects of server downtime on SEO

One of our websites is being hosted with dreamhost. Their uptime has not been the best but it has never been down long enough for the need to take action and change hosting providers.

Steven Johnson
by | Posted: January 21, 2008 | Updated: March 17, 2014
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The site was down about once or twice a month and for never more than an hour or two at a time.  Over the past two weeks it has been getting worse down almost every other day.  Each time the site goes down it is for 5 minutes to a couple hours.

Well today was the final straw.

While researching the ranking for key search terms, I could not believe the snippet that Google pulled for Joomla! Hosting Reviews:

Joomla Hosting Reviews - Offline
Joomla! Logo. Joomla Hosting Reviews. This site is temporarily unavailable. Please notify
the System Administrator. Could not connect to the database ...

www.joomlahostingreviews.com/ - 2k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

This is not what you want your search engine results to look like.  At that point enough was enough!

Having Google list your site as being unavailable is guaranteed to be not good for your SEO.  We are now in the process of changing hosting providers for Joomla Hosting Reviews.

This unfortunate event got me thinking about what effect downtime can have on SEO.  First off Downtime means spiders and more importantly visitors can not get to your website.  Google will drop your pages from the Google index if your pages if your site is down often enough. From an article at SEO Roundtable:

If the host is down when Googlebot tries to access your pages, then those pages may disappear from the index until Googlebot can crawl them again. In webmaster tools, do the pages you want indexed appear in the crawl errors section? If so, then Googlebot was unable to access them.

Seeing this result listing is tangible evidence of downtime on SEO.  I hate to think how this down time could be costing us ranking positions for our desired search terms.  It is clear that even a little down time can poorly effect SEO efforts.

How to combat Sever Downtime and the ill effects:

  1. Put an uptime monitor on your website and services provided.  The best service we have found is Pingdom Uptime Monitoring.  We use this same service for all or our client websites.  We have tried all of the major uptime services and pingdom has the best reports and it is all easily configurable.
  2. When your served goes down contact your hosting provider or system administrator immediately.  If you can work it out have the notifications go directly to them also.  Most website monitors will allow you to notify multiple people.  The sooner your site gets back up the sooner you will be making money!
  3. Make sure that your domain name registration is up to date and are set to autorenew.  Even better go ahead and purchase them for the next ten years and set the domain registar lock.
  4. Use Google Webmaster Tools to look for any page crawl errors.
  5. Use appropriate server downtime error codes.  If you are going to have scheduled downtime make sure to turn your joomla site off or put in the appropriate redirect server code.
  6. Run periodic tests on the server response time.  The server cound be up but not responding fast enough to ensure that the http requests are not timing out.  The healthier a server is the less likely it is to stop serving pages.

We will get Joomla Hosting Reviews to a better host (after all we review them) and Google's index will clear up. 

The important lesson is even if your hosting server goes down for short periods of time you could be undoing all of your great SEO efforts.

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