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Google and planned site downtime

     
11:34 am on Jan 31, 2018 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from DE 

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joined:Feb 20, 2003
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How to deal with planned site downtimes?

Google suggest [webmasters.googleblog.com] to serve a "503 Service Temporarily Unavailable" and a "Retry-After" header.

I'm doing this for a long time and the downtimes are allways at the same time (in the night for some minutes). I send a header with 503 and revisit after 15 minutes plus a hint for the users. However, it seems that google don't care about the header and crawls my site anyway. As a result Google found "problems" and show it in the search console while real problems are burried under all these pseudo errors.

So far I didn't care because I didn't found a better solution. Are there other options or should I leave it as it is?
1:48 pm on Jan 31, 2018 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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The best way to handle downtime is to not have it. Probably not what you want to hear but it has been my experience. Google does not like sites going offline. When possible use development servers to make and test changes before they go to the live server. Use CDNs, cloud redundancy, and other solutions to handle traffic surges and potential DDOS attacks. Thankfully web technology has greatly improved in the last 20 years so we can often avoid downtime.

If you still need to do planned downtime, don't forget it is an opportunity for some viral marketing. If you put up something crazy or weird for the temporary time your site is down it could generate high buzz in your industry. This buzz could be worth more than the temporary headache of googlebot issues.
2:11 pm on Jan 31, 2018 (gmt 0)

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joined:Feb 20, 2003
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Yes, I still need 5 minutes panned downtime (3 o' clock in the night). I know that I can avoid it but this would be too expensive and time consuming to set it up (compared to the advantages).

But thanks for the suggestion. There is indeed enough stuff for the users that I can improve.