An SEO professional was concerned about their website, which was hit by a technical problem. John suggested serving a 503 error code.
Their main question was: for their site, which averaged about 200,000 sessions a day, it was hit by a technical problem and the site was down for 14 to 15 hours just two days ago.
Yesterday’s traffic was roughly normal. The next day, many of their pages went missing from Google searches.
The site has been stable for approximately 8 years now, and they have never had a problem like that before.
What do you recommend?
John answered that usually, if you have this kind of technical issue for a short period of time, it’s possible that what could happen is that these pages will drop out of their index.
However, they will usually pop back in quickly.
What typically happens is that the pages which Google crawled more often will likely get picked up first, and be noticed during the time of this technical issue. Perhaps Google dropped them during that time.
The SEO professional should see that reflected in their traffic as well.
The good news is that these pages tend to also be recrawled fairly frequently, so they should pop back in frequently, or quickly after the technical issue period lapses.
The best way to protect against issues occurring during these kinds of issues is to ensure that you have some sort of server system in place that can serve a 503 result code when things go wrong.
It’s possible that it doesn’t trigger automatically. Even if you can manually turn the 503 result code on, essentially, what happens then is when Google crawls the pages during that time and see the 503, then they will say “Oh, there’s a problem here. We will come back later to double check.”
Basically, the 503 is code for telling Google that this is just a technical glitch.
This happens at approximately the 34:25 mark in the video.