Solution for Error Code 503

Nigel
I'm a pretty seasoned Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with more than 15 years hands on experience with some major clients in the US and Europe, but I recently ran into an issue which I've never had experience of before and need some assistance/insight.
My client has an archive of evergreen content which has been online for 10-15 years. I worked with them for 6 years and then we parted company on good terms. They have since made contact with me for help, after having some issues which made them pull their site for 24 months (503 error for 2 years)
The site was enjoying good traffic, 3K-4K uniques per day with a very healthy loyal following.
We managed to re-establish the site back to the same state as prior to server lock down. The back link profile is healthy and intact and we've plugged the gaps and set up some redirects/canonicals as treatment for some missing content (max 20 urls)
My questions are:-
1: Will Google ignore the site infinitely due to the length of time the 503 errors was in place?
2: if not, how long before traffic recovers? It's an algorithm right? So content and backlinks back to normal…should recover?
3: Google Search Console (GSC) is currently indexing +/- 10% of content and traffic is slowly recovering…after 2 weeks, we're at 150 uniques.
4: the business has a huge social profile and enjoys major engagement when we push archive content
5: Are rankings likely to recover or has lasting damage been done?
If anyone has any insights into this type of recovery, I'd be really grateful for pointers and intel.

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3 👍🏽3 filtered from 21 💬🗨

Brauning
1) content is content. As long as it's decent, it will get reindexed – continue to resubmit & potentially use paid indexers, social shares, resubmit to Google Search Console (GSC), back link attempts
2) not answerable – depends on competition and work that you put in to beat them out anew
Matt
1. No, sites get pulled out of the sandbox everyday and graveyards. I haven't seen a case study yet that measured 503 length of time as it relates to being ignored by big G which answers #2 as well.
2. Recovery from lost traffic/indexing or de-indexing in my experience takes about the same amount of time. So – the website went down for a year, same site will take a year to get back to baseline. Assuming we're in a vacuum.
Tons of ways to cut that time down and you're already doing some of them.
3. Get yourself link whisper and lean on interlinking the whole boat if you haven't yet.
Technical SEO (site health above 90%), on-page, unique content, off page SEO in rotation – that should get you moving more. I think you should give Bing a look as well and see how the site is indexing there. Bing is a decent way to keep a pulse on your site as it climbs the Google Search Engine Result Page (SERP)
4. That's great, push unique content in the mix if I'm understanding your point here.
5. Rankings will recover.

Nigel ✍️ » Matt
Your money is waiting, I'll DM you now for PayPal email address, thanks for the input 👌🏼
Matt
Didn't do it for the money. Just pay it forward. Take that hundo and use it for that plug-in I mentioned. Always happy to help, complex biz dev SEO is my sweet spot. Don't be a stranger
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Alex
1. no
2. If your competition wrote the same content while your site is down then your site is now considered plagiarized and you should rewrite some of the sentences.
3. It may not recover fully, try the suggestion in step 2 and maybe optimizing it a bit more.
4. Continue posting to social media, Google doesn't so much penalize plagiarism as much as they want the pages they show to have traffic and low bounce rate.
5. I wouldn't say lasting damage has been done, you just need to reoptimize the content a bit. Also getting some new relevant links wouldn't hurt.

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Anand
Let me try to answer your queries one by one
1: Will Google ignore the site infinitely due to the length of time the 503 errors was in place?
ans: A healthy website shall not have any form of error if the errors like 503 is there that is for "503 Service Unavailable" that mean you hit some memory limit or # of allowed connection or related. Immediate basis you shall think about an appropriate web hosting option or contact your web host the goal shall be that no more errors are logged in Apache.
Note – I am myself a 15 yrs experienced web host thus said all this on technical grounds.
2: if not, how long before traffic recovers? It's an algorithm right? So content and backlinks back to normal…should recover?
ans: As far as all the Apache errors are resolved and Google Search Console don't show any new error in coming weeks and no single error is pending then Google shall have good reasons to have the trust value back.
3: Google Search Console (GSC) is currently indexing +/- 10% of content and traffic is slowly recovering…after 2 weeks, we're at 150 uniques.
ans: Hosting or errors fixing is first required after that if you still see indexing issue it can be speed of the website or use of Content Delivery Network (CDN) and make your pages faster I have a case where i had 7500 pages mass page site > after 1 year only 30 pages indexed and now after all these fixes they have 1630 pages indexed today found in Google (point to be noted only 20 days since I fixed the issues).
4: the business has a huge social profile and enjoys major engagement when we push archive content
ans: Look Google like search engine their main challenge is compute power if your web pages load slow or throw them error all time they have less crawl budget to you reason is they cant waste their compute power so we shall give them reasons to crawl and index us.
5: Are rankings likely to recover or has lasting damage been done?
ans: Yes once the issues are fixed good results shall be there. About the ranking nobody knows and can predict even my question can be are you sure you have a good topic score coverage on your content when using frase sort of tools. So there can be other reasons but when 503 error is there that shall be fixed first.
This was my few cents hope that helps.
Casas
I had have the same issue 3 years ago with 503 errors for more than a year. 1 .) No it wont. 2.) 3 to 6 months top depending on the number of pages the site has. You can speed it up if you request re-indexing for fresh cached files of all pages, sadly request re-index on Google Search Console (GSC) is now limited to 10-12 request. 3.) Keep monitoring site's performance at GSC. 4.) Use the site's social profile to published new and old content as it can help on the fresh cached of your pages. 5. ) Yes but you need to be consistent trying to get all pages new and old to get a fresh cached files for December update. I'm pretty sure you know why the December update is very important.
Avi
You are asking very specific questions but at best you can get are educated guesses. I won't claim to have the answers for you, but it sounds like you're a large part of their success and know a lot of the recipe for what helped them.
Regardless of your technical questions, one can't ignore the differences in competition for some of the keywords which gave them such traffic to begin with. However, the base is still wonderful based on how you described it. There's no reason to not employ some additional methods to bring it back, and the rest, is a matter of time.
Nigel ✍️
Some great responses here guys, thanks. I'll leave this for the full 24hrs and then respond
Alex
1. No, it won't ignore it indefinitely
2. Algorithm yes, known algorithm no. This may seem somewhat arbitrary.
3. This will be a tipping process.
4. Things like this will make it recover faster
5. Lasting damage as in you lost years of gains yes, lasting damage as in can't get back to where it was no. Things can always come back.
Good luck, not looking for $100 in a fb group lol. Either way exact actionable answers aren't really possible here other than other marketing sources will show the site has traffic and is operating as normal.

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