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Matt Cutts on website downtime and rankings

Matt Cutts, head of search spam at Google, has explained the consequences of website downtime on Google search rankings.

In a recent video, he clarified that Google handles sites that go offline for a short while differently to those that have been down for a lengthier period of time.

Should a site suffer from short term downtime such as 24 hours or less, Cutts suggested that there is likely to be few or no repercussions, with the rankings remaining the same. This is to give sites time to recover from any sporadic downtime. The Googlebot will then go back to the site 24 hours later to try and access it once again.

What will happen during long periods of downtime?

Cutts did explain that sites that do go through a long period of downtime are likely to see a negative impact on their Google search results.

In the Youtube video post, he said: “If your host is down for two weeks, then there’s a better indicator the website is actually down and we don’t want to send users to a website that’s actually down.”

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword, said: “In order to provide searchers with the very best online experience possible, it makes sense for Google to remove websites that have been down for some time. Meanwhile, allowing sites suffering from short term downtime to recover without any negative impact is valuable for those dealing with issues like a server transfer or their host being down.”

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