Website Under Maintenance ? Inform search engines, not only users

Posted By: KP On April 19, 2011 Under Internet, SEO Optimize Tips, Web Master Categories

Most of the websites go under maintenance mode at some time of life. Web masters inform users by putting some funny display notices but they forget to inform search engines. This leads to getting a negative impression in search engines. Find out technical aspects behind “Down for updates” notices.

Whenever you want to update some part of website or whole website, taking site down for a few hours then technically you should leave a note to search engines along with human users.

photo by smemon87

Most of the webmasters show a banner to visitors telling website is down for maintenance but search engines can’t read the banners. They think that site is working normally and the content has been removed. This may make your all SEO efforts useless.

Instead of giving a 200 (success) HTTP header code you should return 503 to search engines. 503 code means website is down for updates/maintenance. “Hey search engine please check back me later”.

It ensures that search engines don’t treat it as a website problem or deletion of content. But on the other note you should not set 503 code for many days. Doing it, search engines will loose habit of crawling your site frequently.

It is always good practice to set 503 for a few hours and update the site meanwhile. To send 503 header you can user header function of PHP.

<?php header(“Status: 503 Down for maintenance”); ?>

Most of the websites go under maintenance mode at some time of life. Web masters inform users by putting some funny display notices but they forget to inform search engines. This leads to getting a negative impression in search engines. Find out technical aspects behind “Down for updates” notices.


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