HostGator Down along with other EIG Hosts causes Web Hysteria

hostgator downHostGator Down! Noooo, my websites are not up!

This sentiment was shared on Friday as most of HostGator's sites along with JustHost, BlueHost, and HostMonster‘s customers sites went offline for many hours and experienced intermittent downtime, slow loading websites, and generally poor site performance.

With a lot of frustration and no clear answers from HostGator I sent out this Tweet on Friday.  This got shared on YFS Magazine Facebook page, a magazine for young entrepreneur's, and got a healthy number of ReTweets and favorites since others felt the same way.

You might want to check out some other Tweets regarding the outages as there a lot of other funny, rude, and crazy ones.  When people can't access or work on their websites the niceties go out the window and web hysteria kicks in.

It should be noted that HostGator, JustHost, BlueHost, and HostMonster are all owned by the same company Endurance International Group (EIG).  EIG web hosts are notorious for overselling and packing servers with tons of websites leading to poor and slow site performance.

Until recently HostGator was considered one of the best web hosting companies to work with.  I actually moved from Site5 to HostGator since I have hosted with HostGator before and found they were a good web hosting company.

That was until they moved their datacenter from SoftLayer's facilities in Dallas, Texas to the Provo, Utah facility about 3-4 weeks ago.  Every since the datacenter move happened the websites I have hosted with HostGator (including this blog currently, but that will likely change) ALL my sites have had issues loading slow and I have had quite a lot of downtime even before the EIG datacenter fiasco on Friday.  I've tried to work with HostGator support about these issues but they didn't seem to care or think there was a problem.  They essentially were like, “Yeah, F$%# you we know the servers are overpacked.”

I assume the reason all the Provo, Utah datacenter has been having issues is that HostGator manages 1% of the world's websites.   When you move that much data into an already packed datacenter, well you are going to have problems.  Probably not something that EIG executives want to hear about since they want to have an Initial Public Offering (IPO) soon.  Therefore you better cut costs and make the company look like a better investment.  Am I right?

Initially HostGator blamed the problem on a “network issue” and it was not clear whether it was a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack on the Provo datacenter or something that was caused by EIG.  Because of the wide anger and hysteria EIG setup a simple WordPress website called Endurance Response and posted this;

During the morning of August 2, 2013, Endurance International Group’s data center in Provo, UT experienced unexpected issues that impacted customers of Bluehost, HostGator, HostMonster and JustHost. Company websites and some phone services were affected as well.

Many of our customers’ sites are back online. Some customers may continue to experience intermittent access and slowness until services are fully restored. Customer should not experience any loss of data.

The resources of our entire company are focused on the recovery, including our executive team, which is leading these efforts from our command center in Burlington, MA. The team will issue updates at enduranceresponse.com every 30  minutes until all customer services are restored. Following the restoration of services, Endurance will conduct a thorough review of this incident.

Ron LaSalvia, Chief Operating Officer, has expressed his message to customers, “We understand that your sites are your lifeblood, as well as the engine to our economy, and we have committed all company resources, nationwide to a swift resolution and full restoration.”

When I emailed HostGator they said again it was a network issue and then said it was DDOS.  Apparently EIG can't keep their story straight as I did not see anywhere on Endurance Response that it said they had a DDOS.

What is annoying is that having lots of website down-time can affect search engine rankings.  (Of course this depends on how much traffic your blog gets and how often the Googlebot crawls your site.)

I want to make it clear to everyone that I understand when web hosting companies have downtime.  This it to be expected if you are using a shared hosting honestly.  It just is not possible since  you are sharing the server resources with other people.  However… HostGator still has yet to provide me with clear answers about the outages and bad performance before this major HostGator down-time, along with the other EIG web hosts, and make it clear what the exactly the problem was.

Endurance International Group now has taken HostGator from being a great host with great support to a host that people are fleeing from.  (According to Twitter and other social media channels at least.)  Even though I wrote about HostGator deals before on this blog and have recommended them, I have removed all affiliate links from this blog and all of my websites.  I can't in good faith recommend HostGator anymore to my friends or followers and I hope you appreciate my honesty, even it will cost me a few affiliate commissions.   For your information, I won't be giving any business to Endurance International Group hosting companies in the future either.

Personally I am probably going to be moving back to Site5 because of the HostGator down-time and lack of support.  Site5 provides good and knowledgeable support, but can be too technical at times, and don't overpack servers.  You can read my Site5 Review to get a better idea about their web hosting services.

If you are a customer with HostGator, BlueHost, JustHost, or HostMonster I would recommend using a website monitoring service.  (You should for all of your websites no matter what the host is.)  I like Uptime Robot and it is completely free website monitoring service and allows up to 50 monitors.  Downtime alerts can be sent via email, text message, or RSS feed notifications.

If you are currently with an EIG host has the recent datacenter outage made you think about moving to another web hosting company?  Where are going to move and how do you determine a good host?  How does it make you feel when you can't access or your website is down and there is no clear explanation?

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.

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!