Wednesday, Google, Gmail, YouTube, and all the other similar services went unresponsive for roughly an hour in many parts of the United States. The problem was quickly resolved, but not before Twitter freaked out and the story reached many news outlets.

Now, Google’s head of Webspam used his Webmaster Chat to answer the big question that site owners who have gone through similar experiences have often wondered. If your site goes down temporarily, does it affect your rankings?

According to Cutts, having a site go offline shouldn’t negatively impact your rankings, so long as you fix the problem quickly. Obviously, Google wants to be directing searchers to sites that are working, so if a site has been offline for days, it makes sense for Google to replace it with a working relevant site. But, Google isn’t so quick to cut out an offline site.

Once Google notices your site is offline, they will attempt to notify those registered with Google Webmaster Tools that their site is unreachable. The messages generally say something along the lines of GoogleBot not being able to access the site.

Then, roughly 24 hours after Google has noticed your site isn’t working, they will come back to check the status of your site. This means that sites can be offline for roughly a full day or more before you can expect any negative affects from the search engines. However, if you’re site has been down for 48 hours or more, chances are Google is going to delist the site, at least temporarily.

Search Engine Land pointed out that there are also other tools available to monitor sites for you and alert webmasters if their site becomes unavailable. They suggest the free service Pingdom, though there are also plenty others to choose from.

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