Websites Left Reeling After Brief Google Outage

Dennis Faas's picture

Both Google and Amazon experienced significant outages a few days ago, and the ripple-effect these issues have caused has been no less than astounding.

Amazon's site went down for somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes on Monday, August 19, 2013. Only the and sites, aimed at US and Canadian visitors, were affected. Other Amazon national sites, along with some specialist sites the company owns, remained online.

Sources estimate the outage cost Amazon almost $5 million. That's based on the length of the outage and the average amount of money the company makes in sales every minute. (Source:

Amazon's "$5 Million Loss" Questionable

There are two problems with that figure, however. The first is that Amazon's business isn't consistent: on a weekday afternoon, it may have been lower than usual because people were at work.

Second, the figure assumes anyone planning to order during the outage decided against making a purchase then and forever. In all likelihood, most consumers would have returned to the site later on in the day.

Google's outage came last Friday and was briefer; according to the firm's own records, it lasted a maximum of 11 minutes. Some experts suggest the outage could have been even briefer.

However, it was arguably more substantial than the Amazon problem as, rather than affecting a single site, it meant all Google services (including Google Search, Gmail, and YouTube) were unavailable.

One estimate says Google lost around $545,000 in potential advertising revenue during the ever-so-brief outage.

40% Traffic Drop Blamed On Google Outage

Websites dependent on Google were left reeling by the problem. For example, web analyst firm GoSquared reported traffic dropping by 40 per cent during the Google outage. This isn't actually Internet traffic as a whole, but rather visits to sites which use GoSquared's services. (Source:

In this case the 40 per cent drop can be explained in three ways. First, people saw the Google homepage was unavailable and simply assumed the entire web was down.

Second, people couldn't find GoSquared sites through a Google search.

Finally, some Gosquared sites were slow to load because they rely on Google for content, such as advertising. This may have deterred would-be visitors from sticking around and exploring a site.

In the end, the Google problem reveals just how costly an 11 minute (or less) outage can be for websites dependent on the firm's many services.

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