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When executing a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign, you must consider all of the factors that search engine algorithms use to rank websites. Some of these factors are obvious. Most webmasters, for instance, acknowledge the importance of high-quality backlinks for SEO, so they build backlinks from relevant sources.

Prevent website downtime

Downtime, however, can influence the success of your SEO campaign as well. With high downtime, your website may rank lower for its target keywords. Downtime can affect your SEO campaign in several ways.

The Definition of Downtime

Downtime is defined as the period for which a website is either completely inaccessible or partially inaccessible to the point where it no longer serves its intended function. Visitors may not be to load the website. Alternatively, they may be able to load some of the website’s pages but not the site’s essential pages.

A study conducted by Dun & Bradstreet found that the average downtime for Fortune 500 company websites is roughly 1.6 hours per week. Over the course of a year, that’s 83 hours of downtime. Whether your website’s annual downtime is higher or lower, these outages can affect where search engines rank it.

HTTP 500 Status Code Errors

Downtime will result in Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) 500 status code errors. Not to be confused with HTTP 400 status code errors, HTTP 500 status code errors indicate a server-side problem. When visitors attempt to load your website, they’ll send a request to it. If your website is unable to process a visitor’s request due to an internal, server-side problem, the visitor will receive a 500 HTTP status code error.

Search engines will receive 500 HTTP status code errors just like visitors. During complete or partial outages, search engines will receive 500 HTTP status code errors. Search engines want visitors to be able to load and interact with the pages that they click in the search results. Therefore, if search engines continue to receive 500 HTTP status code errors from your website, they may lower your site’s rankings.

Inability to Crawl

Search engines won’t be able to crawl the content on pages that trigger a 500 HTTP status code error. They may have cached versions of the content. Nonetheless, downtime will result in HTTP 500 status code errors that prevent search engines from crawling the affected pages.

According to John Mueller, Google doesn’t give up after initially receiving a 500 HTTP status code error. It will wait a short period, after which Google will attempt to recrawl the page. If the page continues to throw a 500 HTTP status code error, Google will attempt to recrawl it less frequently.

Deletion of Backlinks

Some of your website’s backlinks may get deleted if it has high downtime. Backlinks often have a fixed lifespan. You may build 400 new backlinks at the beginning of the year, only to discover that 300 of them remain at the end of the year. With that said, you can expect a greater number of deleted backlinks if your website has high downtime.

Downtime means visitors won’t be able to load some or all of your website. Instead, they’ll receive a 500 HTTP status code error. Backlinks pointing to these inaccessible pages are susceptible to deletion. Other websites may delete them so that their visitors don’t encounter 500 HTTP status code errors.

Many websites deploy link-checking tools to ensure that all of their links function. If you have a backlink from one of these websites, they’ll probably delete it if the link points to a page that’s constantly inaccessible. Link-checking tools will flag links that trigger a 500 HTTP status code error when followed.

Deindexed Pages

Perhaps the worst possible outcome of downtime is deindexed pages. Search engines may remove pages from their index if the pages are inaccessible for an extended period. A process known as deindexing, it will prevent the pages from ranking. When a page is deindexed, it will no longer rank for any keyword.

Mueller recently confirmed that Google does, in fact, deindex pages due to downtime. Mueller says that Google will attempt to recrawl pages less frequently if they throw 500 HTTP status code errors. Eventually, though, Google will assume the pages no longer exist. Rather than attempting to recrawl them, Google will deindex the pages.

Tips to Reduce Downtime

While there’s no foolproof way to keep your website up and running around the clock, there are steps you can take to lower its downtime. Choosing a reliable web hosting service, for example, can result in lower downtime.

Most website outages are server related. Web hosting services that use low-quality servers, as well as those that fail to maintain their servers, may experience server-related problems that render the hosted websites inaccessible. With a reliable web hosting service, your website will be less susceptible to server-related problems.

A content delivery network (CDN) can also lower your website’s downtime. CDNs are server clusters. They are designed to deliver page resources using the shortest possible path. With a CDN, page resources will be stored on multiple servers. The CDN will automatically deliver these files from servers that are close to your website’s visitors.

All CDNs consist of multiple servers. If one of the servers goes offline, others will be available to deliver page resources. You’ll still need a reliable web hosting service, but a CDN can lower your website’s downtime as well.

Improving your website’s security can have a positive impact on its downtime. Breaches are a common cause of downtime. Some hackers specifically breach websites to take them offline.  Other hackers breach websites to infect them with malware. If your website becomes infected with malware, you may have to take it down voluntarily to protect visitors from the same infection. By making your website more secure, it will be better protected against breaches and, thus, outages.

You can’t ignore downtime when executing an organic SEO campaign. Downtime can create 500 HTTP status code errors, prevent search engines from crawling your website, compel webmasters to delete backlinks and cause search engines to deindex to pages.

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Downtime Can Affect Your Search Engine Optimization

Last Updated in 2022-03-29T21:29:59+00:00 by Lukasz Zelezny