Google experienced what seemed to be an enormous service outage on June 2nd. YouTube and Snapchat to Gmail, Voice, Nest, and even Discord were affected by this outage. People in both the US and Europe reported not being able to access the services at all or at the very least sporadically. This outage affected businesses and personal users alike. That said, here at Posse Social Media it offered us a wake up call – we stopped to think for a moment about what a major outage like this one means for businesses, including our own.
One side effect of the outage that has been reported involves Google Search results. We’ve heard from many business owners whose sites aren’t consistently showing up in search results. You can search the same string three times in a row and come up with different results each time. What does this mean for the business who was previously rocking the first page? Inconsistency with results means that their SEO efforts, no matter how hard they are working, may or may not result in page 1 placement. This is of course through no fault of their own, so does it matter if you continue to concentrate on SEO? Of course it does. Just because there is a temporary issue with Search, it doesn’t mean that it will continue to be a problem. You’ll find your search results start to regain consistency once the problem is addressed by Google.
One secondary effect that we noticed is a crash in Analytics. Sites that were showing high levels of traffic with consistent visitors hitting various pages suddenly showed a HUGE drop off in visits within the analytics. The telltale sign that this was an issue involved a client whose Facebook ad showed traffic hitting the site via the Facebook tracking pixel, yet Google Analytics was saying no one was there. What happens when you can’t trust the numbers that Google is feeding you? Again, as Google services came back online and began to normalize we saw a rise in the traffic being reported. Watch for aberrant drops in traffic like this on your site. It may not necessarily mean a true loss of traffic. Rather, you may be seeing a service crash. Have more than one tracking tool in place just in case so that you can verify whether or not you’re really losing that traffic.
Google and Beyond
The takeaway from Google was that this outage mainly affected the East Coast of the US. Our team members on the West Coast experienced issues as well. Issues were also reported in Europe. That said, this problem may be much more widespread than Google wanted to admit. The reported cause was network congestion, but if that is the case… how much more traffic can Google actually handle on its servers? Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Is Google finally growing too big for its britches? What resources can they bring to bear for handling increasingly high levels of network traffic? And what lasting effect will we see on the end user from Google outages?
We’ll keep an eye out for more info from Google on the issue and what response they will take. Until then, sit down, hang on, and keep an eye out for more. Stay tuned…