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Server Crash - effect on Google SERPS

 6:43 pm on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)


Does anyone have any experience with a site going down and the aftermath with Google SERPS?

About 3 weeks ago I had a hard drive failure on my dedicated server. It took me a bit to get everything fully restored from backups. During that time I experienced approx 3 days of down time. As such, when Google came to crawl my site it found lots of 404's.

When using the "site:" operator I see that I still have about the same number of pages indexed in Google however my traffic is greatly reduced.

I have confirmed everything is running fine on the server but 2 days after getting the server going again, Google referrals went down about two thirds. It has remained there since.

From what I have read Google understands that sites go down and 2 to 3 days of lowered traffic is normal. I am approaching 2 weeks with no change and I am starting to worry. The site is 6 years old and has lots of quality backlinks. Any suggestions?




 12:06 am on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I am approaching 2 weeks with no change and I am starting to worry.

I also think that is too long if you were only down for three days and your site is back up with no critical changes (like robots.txt).

Have you checked to see that the "new" site is technically sound? Maybe try the "Fetch with googlebot tool to make sure it's working properly?


 5:41 am on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Tedster,

Thanks for the response. I have checked that the site is sound. I did a fetch with googlebot and everything is as expected. The crawl errors have even gone down in WMT. I have tested the site from several different IP's and browsers. Headers check out too. There has been no critical changes and robots.txt is the same as before.

Perhaps this is an incredible coincidence that I got hit by Panda or Penguin at the exact same time as the site went down?

Referrals from Google are down even further today.

One peculiar thing I did notice is that my number of pages in the Google index began fluctuating today. Normally I see around 6,300,000 results using the site: operator. Over the last few hours this has been bouncing up to 23,000,000 and back down to 6,300,000. Perhaps I am also in the middle of a dance?


 11:14 am on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hm... that sounds like at least one data center at Google has some "duplicate content" URLs in the index. Does that spark any ideas for you?


 12:28 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

One of the sites under my control was down for almost 48 hours at the end of June when a CMS upgrade took longer than anticipated, and as far as I can tell, suffered no loss in the SERPs (we did serve a 503 while it was down) If you're still having problems this far out, I agree, it sounds like you might have something else going on.


 3:32 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have the feeling something else is wrong as well. Unfortunately I just can't find anything. I will have a look at the duplicate content possibility.

One thing I noticed today in my Analytics accounts is the amount of traffic the mobile version of my site is getting. Normally I would see about a quarter of the traffic here compared to the main site. The last few days it has been getting the same number of visitors that the main site was getting previously. Strange since the mobile site was down too.

Could Google have confused this for the Desktop version?


 7:45 pm on Aug 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Can you look at actual search volumes for both going back to before the crash - the solid numbers rather than percentages or fractions? Your report sounds to me like only the desktop version is still affected, and not necessarily that the two versions were somehow crossed up.

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