Does site Downtime hurt Search Engine Rankings?

search engine rankings

Does site downtime hurt Search Engine rankings? ”

This is a question that is hotly debated by webmasters, search engine optimization specialists, bloggers, hosting companies, etc.  A lot of people say that a little bit of downtime, say 20 minutes, in a day, can hurt SERPS (search engine results page) for your website.  Others say that you can have a little bit of downtime here and there and it will not matter much.

Well this question was touched on in one of a Google Webmaster Help videos with Matt Cutts recently. Check it out and the question that was asked.

I got a “Googlebot can't access your site” message in Webmaster Tools from my host being down for a day. Does it affect my rankings when this happens?
Sally

Matt Cutts initial response to this question was,

“Well if it is just for a 1 day you should be in pretty good shape. If your host is down for 2 weeks then there is a better indicator that the website is down and we don't want to send users to a website that is actually down but we do try to compensate for websites that are transiently or sporadically down.  We make a few allowances and we try to comeback 24 hours later… So it is just a short period of downtime I wouldn't really worry about that.”

While I mostly agree with what he said in the video, and after explaining that the Googlebot was having trouble crawling sites a few weeks ago, Matt Cutts commented, “If it is just 24 hours I really wouldn't stress about that very much.”

Well… a friend of mine recently had his websites on a JustHost dedicated server and it went down for 1 day.  He told me hasn't been able to get back his SERP rankings since the downtime.  Despite what was said you should realize downtime can hurt your search engine rankings in Google.  I've heard this from a number of experienced webmasters.

However, I want people to think about how the Googlebot spider works when indexing pages.  I will not go into everything as it would take too long to explain but just do a quick overview.

When you do a Google search you are not actually searching the web instantly, like a lot of people assume, but you are actually searching Google's stored version of the web.  For instance when this article was first posted it DID NOT immediately get indexed by Google and was searchable. Why?  While this blog gets ok traffic my current pagerank is 3, which is decent but not too high.  Sites that post content more frequently and that have a higher pagerank are going to get crawled before mine.  Websites like FoxNews and NY Times will get crawled first since they have a higher pagerank, more content, and are in Google News.

So if my website was down for say 1 hour it is actually pretty possible that Google will not even see my website is down since the Googlebot may not crawl it.  While Google is really good about crawling new webpages very fast these days they can't get to every new piece of content posted simultaneously.  If you were running FoxNews and had downtime 24 hours that would be a much bigger deal since they get millions of visitors a day and the Googlebot expects there to be content frequently.

So my answers to the question “Does site downtime hurt Search Engine rankings?” would generally be the same as Cutts.  I caution anyone asking this question to consider the type of website you are running, how much traffic you get, and your user's expectations which will influence Google's.  Choosing a reliable web hosting company is very important if you want good uptime and don't want to have to worry about websites going down.  I prefer Site5 and you can read my Site5 review to get a better idea about their web hosting services.

So that is my professional opinion on this topic of site downtime and search engine rankings.  By the way if you want to monitor website downtime and uptime I highly recommend a service called Uptime Robot.  It will ping your website every 5 minutes to see if it is up and if it isn't you can get a text message, email, or RSS feed notification.  Best part about Uptime Robot is that it is completely free website monitoring service.

Has website downtime ever hurt or affected your search engine rankings?  Have you ever had your website hosted with a hosting company that had frequent downtime?  Share your experiences below as I am sure a lot of people have something to say about this.

Site5 Review

site5 web hosting

Since I have been hosting with Site5 for awhile I decided I would write a Site5 Review.  Overall Site5 provides robust and fast servers, good support, and a nice backend you wont' find anywhere else.

Anyway here is my Site5 review for those that are considering hosting websites with Site5.

Site5 Review

site5 custom cpanel

Custom Cpnel and User Interface

Site5's custom cPanel and backend user interface deserve a big nod of approval.  It's clean, simple, and easy to navigate which can't be said about most hosting interfaces.

What I really like about Site5's custom cPanel is that you don't have to visit your own cPanel URL.  You can login into your cPanel directly from Site5.com by clicking “Client Login” in the top right.  You can also manage your billing and affiliate payouts from the same backend as well.  It's convenient and a well thought out user interface and system.  I don't understand why more hosting companies don't utilize or have a similar custom cPanel.  This is how other web hosting companies backends should look like and work in my opinion.

Keep in mind this is 2013 and most web users expect ease-of-use and clean interfaces.  Site5 has brought cPanel into the modern age whereas everyone else (including cPanel) is stuck in the year 2000.  If you are a Site5 competitor I ‘d recommend signing up for a free trial account with Site5 just to get an idea of what their setup is like.

Support

Site5‘s support team is top notch.  They will take the time to explain any problems or issues instead of getting an answer that was read from a script.  It is clear support representatives take time to read and review your issue before replying and know what the issue is.

Generally response times on most tickets will get a reply within 30 minutes.  If you have a complex question or issue you will be notified that the ticket has been kicked up to a higher level support representative or system administrator for review.  Tickets that get kicked-up to a 2nd level support member tends to get a reply in about 1 hour.

I've also used Site5's chat service and wait times for an available representative to help you with an issue is usually 10 minutes or less.  The same can't be said for other hosting companies chat support.

What is nice about Site5's email and chat support is they display a picture of the support representative who you are working with.  Under the picture you can click a link that takes you to a short Bio page about that Site5 support team member.  This gives Site5 support a more personal touch and makes you feel like you know the support team better than just being some faceless entity.  One of Site5's support team members includes Mitch Keeler, who is well known in web hosting circles since he runs the Web Hosting Show Podcast.  Ben Welch-Boen, the CEO of Site5, has even replied to one of my tickets and gave a lengthy response to my questions and was quite helpful.  I probably would not have noticed who they were unless they included those pictures.

site5 support

Site5 phone support is only offered between 10am – 6pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) on weekdays.  If you are someone who prefers phone support for working through problems than you won't appreciate that timeframe.  (I personally prefer using email and chat support to resolve most issues.)  I've used phone support in the past and found that the call quality wasn't that good since to my understanding Site5 support uses Skype.  Most hosting companies use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone systems now since it is huge cost saver but each time I called I was disappointed with the call quality.   I've only called Site5 phone support twice though.

UPDATE: Site5 is in the process of updating their phone system to a new provider to improve the call quality.  

Another complaint I have with Site5 support is that if you are not that knowledgeable about hosting or web savvy you might not always find Site5 support helpful. Site5 is sort of a hosting company aimed at geeks and you should have a general idea of what you are doing before hosting with them.  Their support is extremely helpful but they won't hold your hand.

Something you should be aware of about Site5 support agents is that they all work from home.  Personally I think that is nice for employees but others might disagree and not like that for some reason.  Since this is a review and I am trying to provide as much information as possible I thought I would just let people know that.

Uptime and Downtime

Site5 Uptime is pretty decent and is as advertised.  I monitor all of my websites using Uptime Robot and while there is occasional downtime here and there I've never experienced any downtime lasting for too long.  The longest downtime I have on record is 30 minutes according to my Uptime Robot alert notifications.  You can check all of Site5's server uptime stats here.  I've checked the time claimed on my server against what Site5 claims and they are accurate.

One thing I like about Site5 is they are good about sending you notices of when they will be doing scheduled maintenance on your server and when you might experience downtime or issues with accessing your websites.  I appreciate that they keep customers updated about maintenance since you are not caught off guard if your website is down.  Most of the time the maintenance is done early in the morning and should not affect your websites for too long.  I actually don't get Uptime Robot notifications when they say they are doing maintenance.  So most of the time I don't even worry about those scheduled maintenance emails.  Something to keep in mind is a lot of web hosts won't inform you when they do server maintenance.  I really appreciate Site5 does though.

site5 resource points

Server Resources

Site5 does offers “Unlimited Bandwidth and Storage.”   People should know that “Unlimited” for shared hosting plans is never truly unlimited.  While Site5 claims to be unlimited they are actually pretty restrictive it seems with their server resources.

Site5 uses an in house metric known as “Resource Points” to determine if your account is using to much of your shared server's resources.  Site5 says it is easy to understand what Resource Points means but I really have no idea and it seems to be vague.  They calculate it based on CPU, inodes, and some other factors which I don't really understand.  (It does state in their Terms of Service that you can't go above 75,000 inodes on any shared account.)  The server operating system (OS) Site5 uses is Apache, which is the industry standard, but to what I've read is not quite as good at handling server resources as other server OS available.

Adam's Auto Advice was shutdown once for using excessive bandwidth which I believe was only 40 gigabytes.  Honestly that is not that much bandwidth usage.  On the flipside in the span of 2 days the Singing Dogs were mentioned on MSN and the Huffington Post.  The traffic for those 2 days spiked A LOT but really only for a limited time during both days.  I thought Site5 would shutdown the Singing Dogs blog for excessive server resource usage.  Most of the time if you have a traffic spike that much within a few hours your web hosting company will deactivate your account.  I was impressed they did not shutdown the Singing Dogs blog considering the huge traffic spike.

I should also mention that I am consistently over Site5's Resource Points soft limits (check the image above) and they haven't said anything about it.  So… I guess it is kind of hard for me to complain.  I appreciate the “soft limits” but it does concern me since I don't understand what my sites are doing that could take up that much Site5 Resource Points.  I wish my websites got tons of traffic but they don't.

People should understand that no Unlimited host can truly offer “Unlimited Hosting” and shouldn't expect that.  The majority of hosting companies, like Site5, that offering shared unlimited plans have limits and will be kind of vague about it.

Speed

It should be noted that most of my websites are WordPress blogs (including this one).  I have 1 MyBB forum which is moderately active that I host with Site5.  The WordPress Multisite installation I have seems to be a bit slow but I haven't not done much work to speed it up.  (Ok, I don't really know how.)  Wordpress Multisite networks are a bit resource intensive and tend to be slower.  The 1 MyBB forum I have is fast and I haven't had issues with that site being slow.

site5 review

 

Site5 Hosting Plan Prices

I've seen some people on hosting and admin forums complain that Site5 is a bit expensive.  For the level of service and support Site5 provides their hosting plan prices are reasonable and inline with the rest of the hosting industry.

Sure you can probably find a great deal from a Endurance International Group (EIG) hosting company but they won't provide support that knows that they are talking about.  In addition their servers will most likely be overcrowded, have a lot of downtime, and be slower than your grandma driving to church.

HostGator's Baby Plan (an EIG company) is $10 a month after coupons and discounts run out.  Site5's HostPro plan, which is what I use, is $10 a month if you prepay 1 year in advance and $9 if you pay 2 years in advance.  Since Site5 doesn't run coupons specials and promotions that often I think it only seems like their pricing is more expensive.  If you check around a lot of companies offer Unlimited Linux server hosting for $10 a month.

Site5's Additional Features

Some notable additional features Site5 offers is daily backups of all accounts.  So if your site was hacked or you for some reason deleted all your files and don't keep backups, which you should, you can request Site5 to restore your website(s) from the day before or up to a week.  Some hosting companies backup data but few do it everyday.

Site5 also offers MultiAdmin which allows you to easily control different cPanl accounts from the SiteAdmin interface.  This is useful if you have several sites you run for clients or yourself and want to make sure you have best best security.  Running each site in it's own cPanel ensures that if 1 site gets hacked, the others will not.

Site5 also offers you the ability to choose where you want your server to be located for shared, reseller, and VPS (Virtual Private Server) hosting accounts.  This is useful if you have customers in Brazil and need to setup a website close to those customers for the best service and speed.  Since Site5 has an available server in Joao Pessoa Brazil you can do this easily.  It will just cost a little extra every month.  Site5 also offers many different cities around the world and throughout the United States.

Site5 Themes is another nice extra that Site5 offers.  These are custom designed WordPress themes which are nice layouts and are responsive (meaning they will work on mobiles devices and touchscreens.)  Check them out and see if they would work for you.

Conclusion

site5 web hosting

Overall I have been happy with Site5's service and support but like most hosting companies they still have some room for improvement.  I'd like it if their support was more friendly to people who are not quite as knowledgeable about hosting.  This would not only make some current customers more happy (me) but I assume bring in new customers to Site5.  Also I wish Resource Points was a bit easier to understand.

The person who originally recommended Site5 to me was my brother.  He runs custom scripts and programs via a private website for his Neuroscience studies at Harvard.   (Yeah, he might sound smart but I am actually the smart brother.)  Site5′ customer base seems to cater to those who want to build and run customized scripts and programs on their servers.  So if you have highly specialized needs Site5 would be a good choice.

My brother has been hosting with Site5 for about 7-8 years I believe.  In that time he has not had any issues or complaints that I am aware of.  So that's good for Site5 and shows the type of service they offer in my opinion.

At the time of this review this blog, Singing Dogs, and Adam's Auto Advice is hosted with Site5.  In addition I have several other websites hosted them too.

Even though I have had my own hosting account with Site5 for about 8 months, Adam's Auto Advice has been hosted with Site5 for several years on my brother's Site5 account.  So in essence I have been hosting with Site5 for quite awhile.

Site5 does bill itself as “Web Hosting for Designers” which I think is pretty accurate.  It is an excellent company for web designers and developers.  If you are just starting out with a new website and getting online though Site5 is a good option but not sure if they will be the best for all situations.

If you want to tryout Site5 they do offer a 30-day free trial which NO other web hosting company offers that I know of.  That seriously means you can tryout Site5's service free for 30-days without giving them your money.  Few web hosting companies offer a Free month of service.  So if you want to find out if Site5 meets your needs, you can see easily without hassle.  Site5 also has a 45-day money back guarantee if you want to give them your money.

There is not much else to say except that Site5 is a quality hosting company offering quality hosting service.  Since the company has been around since 1999 you can be assured if you host with them that they are not going anywhere.  There are around 140,000 websites hosted with Site5 and they have about 30,000 customers worldwide.

I hope you have found my Site5 Review helpful and informative.  If you have found this Site5 review useful I would appreciate it if you left a comment below since I like hearing when I help people.

Got an experience with Site5 you want to share?  Whether it is good or bad please leave a comment below to let myself and others know.

Disclaimer: I have included commissionable links in this review.  This means I get a commission when you buy a web hosting plan through Site5 using a link on this page. However nobody can influence my opinions on this site and this Site5 review reflects my honest opinions about Site5's web hosting services. Also the revenue generated from this links help keep this site and my other sites up and running. 🙂

Free Website Monitoring with Uptime Robot

website monitoring

For anyone that has a blog or website on the internet it is important to know your website's uptime, which means when it is working properly.  What you really want to know though is if your website has downtime, which is when your website is not working. Website monitoring services and sites are the best way to let you know the reliability of your hosting company and to alert when your website is down.

Website monitoring services are useful since they check your website at set intervals throughout the day to make sure it is up.  A single person can't obviously monitor a website every minute of every day.  It is just not possible unless you have some super human powers I don't know about that allows you to not sleep.

These site monitoring services and ping services are extremely useful and great for the testing the reliability of your hosting provider.  While extremely useful a lot of website monitoring services cost quite a lot of money each month.  Generally the high monthly expense is not worth it for a small businesses or someone with a personal blog, or anyone who has to be tight with their money.  (Let's be honest who isn't tight with money in this economy?)  Is there a good solution for people who don't have money for an expensive website monitoring service? Yes, the answer is Uptime Robot!

Uptime Robot is a completely free website monitoring and free ping service that was started in January of 2010.  If this sounds too good to be true or you think being “free” comes with a catch… it doesn't.  Uptime Robot allows you to monitor up to 50 websites and checks them every 5 minutes to make sure they are up.  If your website is experiencing downtime you can choose to get alerts via a text message, email, Twitter, RSS (Really Simple Syndication), or push notifications for the iPad or iPhone.  Uptime Robot also has a keyword monitoring tool and has networking monitoring features as well.

A lot of people are probably familiar with what is known as the Freemium model.  A Freemium business is when a company or person offers a service for free, but premium services you have to pay for.  The majority of supposedly “free website monitoring” services usually work from a Freemium model.  You can monitor one website for free but anything else you will have to pay for.  Typically the other free services check your site at intervals that are 30 minutes apart, which is not often enough in my opinion.

Not only is Uptime Robot completely free (just had to mention that again) it is easy to use and setup the monitors.  The dashboard user interface is friendly for even non-tech inclined people.  It only took me 10 minutes to setup website monitors for all of my sites with Uptime Robot.  As well to make sure the IP addresses and domain for the Uptime Robot servers were not being included in my Google Analytics stats.  (It is important to exclude the IP addresses for any analytics applications if  you are using website monitoring services or it could affect your visitors stats to make it seem like you are getting a lot more visitors than you actually are.)

A few weeks ago I got an email and text alert that my auto repair blog was down.  I went to check and sure enough I was getting an error when trying to visit my site.  I tried a few different browsers on my computer and then checked my smartphone to see if I could access my auto blog.  Nope, it was down and was not working!  I went to Isup.me to see if it was maybe something wrong with my internet connection or that Uptime Robot was sending a false positive.  Nope, my blog was definitely down.  Luckily before I had the chance to contact Site5 support about the downtime it was already fixed.  The downtime was only for about 25 minutes or so and I got an email from Uptime Roobt when the server for my sites was back up and running.

It was extremely useful for me to know about the downtime I am confident that even though Uptime Robot is completely free, it is a reliable service.  At least that is what I have experienced.

A friend of mine said that Uptime Robot sent him a couple of false positives for his sites, saying they were down when they were not.  I have never had an issue using the service though.  If you have had an issue with Uptime Robot leave a comment below or if you have great experience leave a comment too.  I mean, you get what you pay for! 🙂

I am not sure how Uptime Robot stays completely free but I LOVE that for now it is.  I mean 50 monitors per account and the fact it checks your site every 5 minutes is amazing. The two designers and developers that are behind Uptime Robot, Umut Muhaddisoglu and Daniel Rimille, are pretty awesome guys to offer this.

Currently Umut and Daniel are not accepting donations to keep Uptime Robot operational but I think they should. Personally I would be willing to chip-in a few bucks to keep Uptime Robot going since I think it is such a great service.  I know that it takes time, hardwork, and dedication to keep a service like this up and running.  I just hope they are not spending too much time or their own resources to keep Uptime Robot up.

To keep updated with Uptime Robot developments and new features check out the blog and follow them on Twitter @UptimeRobot.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!