Edinburgh Web Development

DNS and Google SERPS - a cautionary tale

by Iain Wilson

14 December 2012

Here's something to watch out for.  Last weekend, we had an admin problem with our DNS entry for our domain.  

Over the weekend our domain, and therefore our website and email, were unavailable because the DNS entry for the domain was not retrievable.  The problem was fixed on the Monday.

During this time of course, the Googlebot tried to visit our site quite a few times.  Each time it found that the DNS entry was unavailable. So, Google sent us a message in Webmaster Tools  :-

"Over the last 24 hours, Googlebot encountered 20 errors while attempting to retrieve DNS information for your site. The overall error rate for DNS queries for your site is 100.0%"

And sure enough, you can see the peaking of DNS errors on the following graph.

DNS errors

You can see that the errors went away after we corrected the problem.  We also carried out the instructions in Webmaster Tools to 'Fetch by Googlebot' and submit our domain.  All good, we thought, a little blip but now fixed.

On investigating for any possible damage though, we found some unexpected results; Google had dropped our site from ALL of their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)!  

All our pages were still in the index and still appeared to have their Page Rank, but any search for 'Blot Design' or any pages or articles just did not appear in the results.

Because the pages were still in the index, we expected things would return to normal in a few hours, maybe a day or so, but Monday came and went.  So did Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  We carried on with our normal activities with site updates, new sitemaps, social posting as normal, but no sign of our site in the SERPS.

Finally today Friday, it looks like normal service has been resumed.  A search for Blot Design returns our pages again.  So for almost a working week, our site was invisible on Google. 

Really not any harm done that we can judge.    But, imagine if we had been an e-commerce site, down for a week just before Christmas!

Not Google's fault that our DNS was screwed up, but now we know what the consequences can be.  Lesson is - pay close attention to any DNS changes.

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