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Google’s John Mueller shared a number of tweets the other day with specific SEO advice around what to do when you remove or disable functionality of parts of your website or your whole website in order to encourage users to take action on an issue. So maybe you replace your home page with a message or something else, you want to avoid any SEO issues with doing that.

If you replace your home page with a new message, Google can crawl and index that new home page and then think your site is about something else. So if you sell blue widgets and your home page is all about blue widgets, and then decide to replace it with a message about social change – Google won’t see anything about blue widgets anymore. It can impact your rankings and confuse Google.

Google’s John Mueller said 503 server status codes can come to your rescue. John said “If you remove, replace, or redirect your normal content, search engines may index your pages like that (or, drop them from the index). This can have a negative effect on your site’s overall visibility in search. However, you can also do it in a way that’s neutral for search: 503.” He added “returning a 503 HTTP result code tells search engines to ignore the current content, and to come back again a bit later.”

We covered how 503s can be used in search a lot here, so not much of this is new but something prompted John to post these tweets. Here they are:

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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