There are various reasons that might lead a business organization to close down its website for a small period of time. They might need to update the website, or do some maintenance work or simply just want to take a break. Irrespective of the reason, shutting down the website in an appropriate manner, even for a few hours can affect its SERP rankings and online visibility, in a significant manner.
In order to avoid such a situation, the webmasters need to ensure that they close the website in proper manner using any of the following three methods, to minimize any negative impact that such an action can have on the goodwill and credibility of the site established through great efforts.
Prevent Only Specific Functions
Many times, the webmasters might choose to close down the entire website just to prevent the users from performing specific functions. A perfect example of this is disabling an e-commerce website simply to prevent the users of from buying or selling any products. In such cases, rather than shutting down the entire website, it is better to block the specific functions that the webmasters don’t want the users to perform for a limited duration. In case of the above example, the webmasters can choose to disable the cart function for a specific time period. In order to avoid any inconvenience to the users, they can make sure that a relevant message is displayed every time a user tries to access the cart functionality.
Make Use Of An Interstitial Or Pop-Up Message
In case the webmasters need to block access to the website, they should always use an interstitial or pop-up message box to inform the users about the site being only temporarily unavailable. In this case, every time a user tries to access the website, the server returns a 503 HTTP result code, which indicates to the search engines that the service being offered by the website is unavailable. This in turn ensures that the search engine does not index the Page Not Found errors that are returned in the absence of interstitial or pop-up message box, which can deeply affect the site ranking. However, the webmasters need to consider the fact that Googlebot will consider the interstitial or pop-up message for only up to a period of one week after which it will treat them as a permanent error, which can have great negative consequences for the website.
Disable The Entire Website
There might be occasions when the webmasters need to completely shut down the entire website. A classic example of this is when they need to actually move the server for the website from one data center to another. In such cases, the webmasters should arrange for a temporary server to return the 503 HTTP result code for all URL’s pointing to the website. They also need to change their DNS so that it points to the temporary server, until the time that the permanent one is restored. The 503 error code should be accompanied with a timer message to give the users an idea about the approximate down time and prevent them from switching to other service providers.