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Best ways to handle anticipated downtime during site changes?

     

inflt

6:30 am on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)



Hi all .. first post here and just need a little pointing in the right direction. Looking to cause the least amount of damage to any current SEO value.

Currently have a site hosted on server '1'. All pages are indexed by google. We are moving the domain name over to the new server, however this is only to get some parts of the new site, which is still in development, up and working because some of the parts are software which require the domain name to be registered with the company in order to work properly.

So .. we're thinking we'll need to have the site down for around 3 weeks in order to get everything wrapped up and then take it live.

In this scenario, what would you recommend? Maintenance page? 503? and then the million dollar question... how much downtime is acceptable before google starts penalizing? I should also note that the old site is also a dev location ( switched developers) and as such did not have heavy traffic.

Thanks in advance!

LostOne

12:43 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I had one down (message board) for two months. Page Not Found...sprung back to old levels within a few weeks. 1500 uniques daily.

netmeg

1:28 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



I always use a 503 when I have to take a site down, but I've never taken one down for three weeks, either (that I expected to come back up) 503 is still probably the best solution.

g1smd

4:17 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Use the 503 and give a realistic figure for the "retry after" value.

I had a site down for 4 hours having said it would be down for 4 hours.

Google accessed the site several times in minutes 1 to 5 of the downtime, and got 503 each time.

The site was down for 4 hours and Google was back on the site less than 5 minutes after it came back online.

inflt

4:28 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)



Thanks for the input!

So if I'm understanding correctly, it would be better to just let google think there is an issue with service and to come back later as opposed to having it hit a maintenance page?

g1smd

4:33 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



There's nothing wrong with a maintenance page as long as the HTTP status code in the HTTP header is "503" and is NOT 200, 404, or anything else.

inflt

4:37 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)



gotcha... so lined up for exactly that, Maintenance Page returning a 503 error.

Have you heard of any issues having it up for a few weeks?

g1smd

4:52 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I haven't heard about any issues with long downtime periods, but personally I would not want to go beyond about 10 to 14 days.

However, there's nothing in the HTTP spec to say you can't set the revisit flag to be a month or more. Just make sure that the site really is back up before the timespan you have set.

I much prefer to develop or upgrade a site on a test or dev subdomain and then perform the swapover on the live domain in just a few hours or less.

wheel

6:19 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



What you should be doing is going back to the drawing board so that your site isn't down at all. THere's never any good reason for having a site offline to change it. The transition should be almost instant.

Quit looking at how to minimize the impact, and start finding how to not have the site down at all.

ZydoSEO

9:20 pm on Jan 11, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



I agree with Wheel. If I were you I'd figure out how to do this with no downtime, or maybe a few hours. I can't think of anything I would ever need to do that should require even a day of down time. I've worked on sites with over 100 servers (web, application, and DB servers) in their farm and were honestly never down more than a few minutes for maintenance (and even that was VERY rare).

Have you considered getting your new configuration up and running on 2nd server/hosting account? And then cutting over once everything is ready? There has got to be a much better way to implement your changes that being down for weeks. No business with which I've ever dealt would ever allow you to have their site down that long.

flatfile

1:35 am on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)



I'm also trying to figure out how moving a site from one server to another could require three weeks downtime. About 5 months ago I moved three sites from one server to three separate servers with zero downtime. Have you considered any other approach that might require less down time?.

martinibuster

2:11 am on Jan 12, 2013 (gmt 0)

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



I agree with zydo and wheel, a site down three weeks seems uneccessary. A password protected dev setup is one way I've handled new site redesigns before going live. I've even set up a local server environment with xampp on my desktop to run a new software, modify files for functionality etc., prior to going live.