Hey, everyone. It’s Ken Kimball from Links Web Design. This morning, we want to talk about one of the scariest emails a website owner can get, “Googlebot can’t access your site.” So what is Googlebot? Googlebot is this program that Google has that goes around and actually downloads people’s websites. The reason why it does that is because when you do a Google search, you’re not actually searching the Internet, you’re searching Google’s copy of the Internet. So Google wants to always make sure it has a recent copy, so it’s always scanning websites and downloading new content.
What would cause Googlebot not to be able to access your website? Well, the first, most obvious reason is your website is down. The next thing could be, maybe there’s a node between Googlebot and your website that’s down. So the Internet’s made up of all kinds of interconnected nodes. If one of those nodes is down between you and Google and there’s not an alternative path, that could cause problems for Google and you could receive this email. Another one is you could have a distributed denial of service software installed or intrusion detection system, and one of those could potentially misidentify Googlebot as an intruder and block access. The other thing is, sometimes, Googlebot just doesn’t work right. There’s been a few instances over the past few years where Googlebot hasn’t been able to access any websites. If you go onto the Webmaster Tools forums, you can see people having discussions when that happens. It’s pretty easy to follow up and see if there’s an issue like that going on.
So what should you do if you get this email? Well, the first thing is check your website. Make sure it’s up and active, and make sure that you’re able to access it. If you are, chances are that other people are able to and the next time that Google comes back, it will be able to as well. The next thing you can do is log in to Webmaster Tools. If you look at that email that Google sent you, there’s actually a link to log into Webmaster Tools. If you do that, there’s several little diagnostic things you can run just to make sure that everything is working properly, and you can actually see a graph over time that tells you any errors that Google had indexing your site over the past 12 months.
The next thing you should do is if you can’t access your website or Webmaster Tools is giving you errors is contact your provider. See what they have for resources. Maybe there’s something wrong with the server. Maybe there’s something wrong with the data center and something that they can take a look at.
Last thing, if you just received this one email, you can probably just wait, see if you get a second one. If this becomes systemic and you get a lot of these emails, you might want to think about taking more drastic action.
So just to kind of wrap up, it’s a bit of a scary email the first time you get it, but there’s definitely some actionable items you can take to make sure that everything’s okay, and as long as you’re not getting them on a regular basis, you’re probably just fine.