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What Happens When Your Website is Blacked Out?

You might have noticed that yesterday a lot of very important (English) websites were blacked out or on strike. At last count there were 137 very large websites on strike with thousands of other smaller sites joining in. They were blocking their content to support the protest the internet censorship bills, SOPA and PIPA. More information is here:

Whether you support SOPA/PIPA or not, it's the website blackouts that we'd like to call your attention to in this Daily Golden Nugget.

On January 16, 2011, just two days before the planned blackout, many website owners realized that turning off their website would be detrimental for their SEO. The blackout was planned for the full 24 hours of January 18, 2011.

Can a blacked out website harm your SEO, even if only for 24 hours?


More than a year ago Google announced it had the ability to recrawl the entire internet in 3 days or less. Can you imagine that? Billions of web pages are out there and Google has the computing power to reread all of them every 72 hours.

Anyone with a blacked out website would run the risk of having their website removed from Google, if not permanently, certainly for a short time. Smaller sites run the risk of being blacked out for longer than larger sites with lots of traffic and links. With a recrawl rate of 3 days a whole 1/3 of the internet could risk having themselves wiped from Google just because they supported a protest.

Luckily, since Google was supporting the protest effort, they gave out hints how to prevent SEO issues. Google wanted to make sure no one accidentally deleted their website from Google Search. The hints are quite technical, but you can read them here if you want to:

We didn't notice any large jewelry stores or chains participating in the website strike, but you need to be aware of the important SEO warning that underlies all of this. The warning is that it only takes a single day for your website to be zapped out of existence from Google search; at most it takes 3 days.

Accidents happen and sometimes your domain name isn't renewed on time, or perhaps you forgot to pay your hosting bill. Worst case scenario is when your website malfunctions and turns off because of a hardware or software glitch. All these things happen.

So the next time something goes awry on your website, you need to contact your web guy as fast as possible to make sure the problem is resolved immediately. Don't wait and see if the problem will correct itself.

Google says that accidental website outages will only harm your ranking in the short term, but that's assuming your website comes back to life before Google returns within 3 days.
AT: 01/19/2012 03:44:46 AM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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