How to Protect Your SEO & Still Join The SOPA Protest As The Web Goes On Strike

Tomorrow (Wednesday 18th January) will see hundreds of websites ‘go dark’ in a bid to protest against US Congress legislation such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP ACT).

If you’re planning on joining the 12 hour ‘blackout’ protect your SEO efforts by following a few simple guidelines from Google.

What is SOPA?

Let’s start off by giving you a bit of background to tomorrow’s activities:-

Last year, we saw US Congress draft two bills; Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).

PIPA would give the US government more control over the access of rogue websites containing infringed content and it’s expected to be discussed by the government on January 24.

SOPA was intended to take down any infringed content from search engines and webmasters but after a huge anti-SOPA movement via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter the act has now been paused.

The web goes on strike

Despite the bill being paused, protestors have planned a mass ‘blackout’ for 12 hours tomorrow (Wednesday 18th January) from 5am to 5pm UK time (12am-12pm EST) to discourage any similar legislation in the future.

One of the websites who have come out in support of the strike is Wikipedia who has an estimated 25m visitors a day.

Twitter addicts (like me) breathed a sigh of relief when Twitter CEO Dick Costolo branded Wikipedia’s support of the strike as ‘foolish’ yesterday.

How to protect your SEO during the ‘blackout’

Website owners are being encouraged to join the strike by taking down their site for 12 hours using but Google’s Pierre Far has released some useful tips on how to protect your SEO whilst ‘going dark’.

Here are the do’s and don’ts from Far’s post or alternatively you can read the full Google+ post entitled ‘Website outages and blackouts the right way’.


– use a 503 HTTP return in the header for all the URLs participating in the ‘blackout’

This method will ensure Google does not index the copy (or lack thereof) and it won’t consider the blank pages as duplicates.


– change the DNS settings

– change the robots.txt file contents

– alter the crawl rate settings in WMT

Anicca won’t be joining the strike tomorrow but let us know if you’re planning on joining the strike by leaving a comment below.

By Jemma Crowston


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