Government Shutdown Affects SEO?Written by Michael Levanduski
October 6, 2013 # 12:33 pm # Industry News, Marketing Insights, Specials # 2 Comments
Everyone has been talking about the partial government shutdown in the US, and how it is affecting a wide range of companies, whole industries and, of course, individual citizens. In addition to that, however, the government shutdown could also have some pretty significant impacts on marketers and their SEO efforts. Of course, at this point it is too early to know the full impact it could have, but based on what we know about Google and the search engines, we can make some good educated guesses.
Many government run websites including NASA.gov and others have been shut down and replaced by the following message:
“Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.”
Most government sites contain thousands of pages each, and like all websites, they are largely accessed by the search engines. As Google and the others crawl through these sites, they will no longer see the huge amounts of content that was there before. As any good SEO’er can attest, when there is a huge change in the content of a site, it can wreak havoc on the site’s rankings. Whether the government sites are using 200 or 302 status codes to handle this shutdown, it will have largely the same impact on the sites.
The longer the government shutdown lasts, the more government websites will begin to lose their ranking. This isn’t a problem while the sites are down anyway, but as we all known, the rankings won’t restore overnight. When the websites are back up and running, they will have likely lost the bulk of their rankings. Unlike a normal website, however, the website isn’t there to make a profit, but rather provide a service. This means, of course, that even after the inconvenience of the shutdown has ended, many citizens will have to continue to endure the inconvenience of having trouble finding the .gov websites they need.
While the impact to the government’s websites will be significant, it doesn’t end there. Most internet marketers know that getting a back link from a .gov or .edu site can be very valuable. They are certainly difficult to get, but not impossible for high quality sites. If your site has a number of high-value back links from a .gov site which is shut down, it could impact your rankings as well.
As Google finds that your link no longer exists, you will lose the SEO benefits you have become accustom to. When the sites are finally back up and running, it could take days or even weeks before you see the link juice flowing back to your site.
There will undoubtedly be other SEO impacts from having so many of the .gov sites offline, and the longer the shutdown lasts, the more impactful it will be. Whether you blame the Democrats, the Republicans or the Easter Bunny, this shutdown is going to cause problems for everyone. Hopefully it can be resolved as quickly as possible.