How long does it take before Google starts de-indexing your pages on server failure

I recently got the opportunity to discover how long Google would keep showing my content on the search engine result pages when my web server was unavailable. Predictably, I only had a short window of time before my content got removed. And the first content to go was my top ranking pages.

Last month I was managing some DNS records and accidentally wiped the A-record for, making this blog effectively unavailable. I noticed the issue but thought it would be interesting to see how much time Google would grant me before starting to de-index my pages. Entering the unknown, I proceeded to delete the remaining sub domains from my DNS to remove any trace of life.

Tracking progress

Using Google Search Console, I kept track of the issues presented and followed the subsequent de-indexing from SERP (Search Engine Results Pages). The image below shows the development as logged by Google from the initial removal of my site on 15.08.2018 ( until its revival on 19.08.2018.

Google sitemaps report

Google Search Console - Sitemaps report showing de-indexed pages.

In short, I was given a 48-hour grace period before Google consistently started to de-index my content. Pages enjoying a SERP rank between 1 – 5 were the first to get removed. This is perfectly understandable as it would be detrimental for Google to have dead links on top of a SERP.

I restored my blog on 19.08.2018 but soon noticed that Googlebot wasn’t particularly interested in visiting me anymore. I gave it another day before I resubmitted my sitemap in Google Search Console, hoping that would entice Googlebot to resume regular visits. That did seem to do the trick and in a week’s time all of my previously de-indexed pages had been restored to their former glory, keeping their old SERP rank.

Lessons learned

  • Exceeding the 48-hour unavailable mark resulted in de-indexing.
  • De-indexed pages were likely not deleted but temporarily masked as unavailable.
  • De-indexed pages kept their original SERP score when reintroduced to the index.
  • Not having a blog was kind of relaxing.

Unexpected results

During the de-indexing stage, I performed multiple searches for keywords where I previously had a high SERP rank. I was rather surprised to see Google still promoting my original content, but sailing under an entirely different flag. It turns out my content had been frequently re-published by some Chinese sites living large on Google AdSense. Those Chinese sites instantly disappeared from SERP when my content was re-indexed.

Roger Comply avatar
Roger Comply
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