One SEO professional was wondering about an extended outage they are planning to have. They explained that their client will likely have their site down for approximately one to two weeks. They are also worried about possible deindexing of the site.
They were curious whether there was a way to tell Google that it’s a temporary situation.
They also explained that they would post a countdown on their page, showing two weeks or ten days left or something like that.
John answered that there’s really no way to do so for that time frame, regardless of how you set it up.
If you use a 503 result code, however, you can tell Google that they should re-crawl the site. But it won’t tell them specifically to come back within a certain length of time.
However, even with this code, what will happen is that if the pages are just gone, then Google will end up dropping them from the index.
When the pages come back, Google will simply crawl them again.
John recommends avoiding the outage in the first place, because there’s really no way to prevent Google from deindexing the pages at all.
This happens at approximately the 4:15 mark in the video.
John Mueller Hangout Transcript
SEO Professional 3 4:15
One of my clients’ website will be down for a week, or like for two weeks. Okay? And the reason why I’m here is, there are a few bugs on the website. And that’s the reason they said you know, they wanted to take the whole website down for like a week or two. And my question is only related like you know, although there will be traffic loss and so on…but how can I tell Google that this is a temporary situation?
It will be only for two weeks and our website will be live. Is there anything that I could, you know, display, a page showing, you know, the website is temporarily down and will be displayed in? I know that the countdown is there on my page? You know, it’s been within two weeks or 10 days, at something like that.
Can I tell Google that, you know, the site is currently down, but it will be going back live again within like two weeks or a week. But there shouldn’t be any ranking loss that I or there could be minimum ranking loss. Something like that?
I don’t think you’ll be able to do it for that time, regardless of whatever you set up. So for an outage of maybe a day or so, using a 503 result code is a great way to tell us that we should check back. But after a couple of days, we think this is a permanent result code, and we think your pages are just gone. And then we will drop them from the index.
And when the pages come back, we will crawl them again and we will try to index them again. But it’s, essentially, during that time, we will probably drop a lot of the pages from the website from our index. And there’s a pretty good chance that it’ll come back in a similar way. But it’s not always guaranteed.
So anytime you have a longer outage where I’m thinking like more than a couple of days, I would assume that at least temporarily, you will have really strong fluctuations, and it’s going to take a little bit of time to get back in. It’s not impossible, because these things happen sometimes.
But if there’s anything that you can do to avoid this kind of outage, I would try to do that. And that could be something like setting up a static version of the website somewhere. And just showing that to users for the time being. But like, especially if you’re doing this in a planned way, I would try to find ways to reduce the outage to less than a day, if at all possible.