Lessons from Google’s Outage

On Friday August 16, 2013, Google went down for a few minutes. Fortunately, the internet didn’t blow up as a result but the outage proved some important information we’ve been saying for years. While Google was down, analytics for websites showed a 40% drop in traffic on the internet, shown here on the right from GoSquared. As soon as Google stopped working, tweets per minute skyrocketed from 200 per minute to 1,000 per minute.

So what can we take away from the day Google went dark?

While the reasons behind the outage remain a mystery, there are some things we can learn from the outage and the data gathered during the outage about internet traffic and Twitter usage.

All websites need to be written with both humans and Google in mind. Since 40% of all internet traffic goes through Google, not optimizing your website for Google means you’re missing out on a huge chunk of the internet. If Google ignores your page, that’s going to cost you a lot of money, not just a place in the results. Using tactics that Google penalizes websites for will also send your website further back into search pages than where it should be based on other factors so you become essentially invisible to 40% of internet traffic. However, if your website only speaks to Google and not potential customers, no one will read your website. If no one’s reading it, being at the top of Google won’t help you sell your product or services.

Twitter is important for customer service. Using Twitter to send out updates and to interact immediately with your customers helps businesses do their jobs better and gives customers what they want when they want it. While Google was down, people wanted answers about what was going on and turned to the next best thing to Google itself. Curiosity about whether other people were experiencing problems with Google or a desire to share the news with friends created a lot of tweets very quickly. The best thing Google could have done would have been to use Twitter to tell internet users they were experiencing an outage and were working to get back online. Not only would this have helped customers understand what was going on, it would have been retweeted. While Google doesn’t need help in getting the world out about their products and brand, your business would benefit from social shares of your messages, even if it’s just great customer service updates.

If you’re not using Twitter to interact with customers and don’t have a website optimized to communicate well with search engines, you’re missing out on a big part of internet traffic and could be making more money through your online presence. Instead of letting it go, you should take action to improve your online conversions.







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