What happens to your rankings when your website goes off-line ? Do you loose your rankings for ever ? How long is too long for being off line ? Will Google and the other search engines put you back to square one, once you are back online ? Read some surprising answers to these questions below.
Our Dropped Ranking Test
Here is a screenshot of our ranking test. The site was offline from September 2011 through to December 2012. On January 1st we re-enabled the site, and started to add some more content, and ping’d Google that the site was back. The traffic slowly came back, over 2 months, and then it started to increase significantly. During this time the site returned a 404 header code for all pages on the site. For this test we purposely didn’t send a 302 header code saying that the site temporarily was down.
The result, was that the site was dropped from the index completely, this took about 4 weeks, all the indexed pages were no longer being shown.
This keyword is one of the more competitive keywords the site ranks for, and it results in over 16% of total traffic to the site. It was comforting to see that being offline for over 3 months wasn’t a factor in the rankings. Which makes sense to us. If the site is available, and it ranks, then being down for a while shouldn’t change the ranking factor of the site. There wasn’t significant changes in the competitors sites during this time. So when the site was back, with the exact same content and URLs, it make sense that it should rank once more.