A website cautionary tale...

Joseph225

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I'm currently in the middle of a ginormous Charlie Foxtrot, and thought it would be good to share some insight.

I've been in business for 10 years. When this all began, I had no money, so I spent a lot of time learning Wordpress, created my own site, and over the years have worked pretty hard to wrap my brain around SEO. About a year and a half after I took my site live, I paid someone a few hundred bucks to do some cosmetic work, and make it "prettier". Then, about a year and a half ago, I spent a few thousand for some onsite SEO to be performed. I've been pretty happy, overall, with work done on my site...until now.

  • A couple years ago I had a glitch happen, where the site went down for a bit. I called the hosting company, and with their help, managed to get it up and running. There were a couple aspects of the site that looked "odd", visually, and so checked back in with hosting company. They explained this was normal, and that a website is like a car. When you first get it, the coding and all aspects will work together and run pretty smoothly. As time goes by, though, things will get "worn", and need to be updated. That I should consider having a company do some work to completely overhaul the site every 7-10 years.

    There's a guy I encountered in a local networking group, and he'd been working for a local company doing their marketing, as he worked to establish his own marketing company over the past couple years. I listened to him talk one day about analytics, and what you can do with the data from various social media ads you run, and was duly impressed. Then one day, I had him look over a blog article to help me get rid of passive voice in the content, and it came back to me with h1, h2, and h3 headings separating various parts of the blog, too. I was all KINDS of impressed. Turns out he'd gotten a degree in technical writing. One or two more blogs like this, and I was convinced. This cat was THE. REAL. DEAL., right?

    So then it came time to update the site, and I tasked them with the project. They created the site, convinced me to move the hosting to a local company instead of Hostgator, and it was implemented on September 8th.

    IMMEDIATELY, and over the next month, rankings started tanking, and continued to do so. They were like "Oh, that happens when you switch to a new site, it'll be fine." and made noise about 3-6 months. I let it go another couple of weeks with no improvement, and at this point have become convinced that they are/were completely out of their league with website design and SEO. I learned from talking to them, that they'd used a browser to surf the website, and create a list of pages to be made. Even though they'd had access to the backend of the website, they completely discounted the internal structure of the site, and created it off of what the normal consumer could see/find. The onsite SEO created by the other company was lost, and when I realized that was no longer there, there were no longer any backups available from before the implementation of the new site. Their attempts to make this right have fallen flat, and I can say this with confidence because I've used a keyword tracker for years (not the Google Analytics research tool, although that HAD been installed on the old site). I have a list of keywords, and a list of municipalities around me that I do work in. I track the various combinations of keywords (service type + municipalities), and how my website ranks for any given keyword. This is something I strongly recommend for the rest of you, if you don't.

    I equate what's happened to taking a Subaru WRX STI with 35 psi in for a paint job, and this company scrapped it and brought me a shiny Honda Civic. It's infuriating.

    All that being said, I've determined that the following things should be performed for website work to be implemented in the future:

  • Backups of current site will be established, and saved in a manner that can be easily restored by me, if necessary
  • Implementation of all work will actually be done by me, rather than anyone else, even if they're the ones who create the content
  • Keyword tracker will be maintained until the end of time to be used as a metric for website performance, and it would be a good idea to also learn about and understand what keyword research is
  • Google Analytics is also a very important aspect to have installed on your site, for the purposes of tracking how much traffic is coming to your site. As changes are implemented to the site, you can watch to see if traffic or keyword rankings change from that point forward, and by how much.


 

Hoody

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So the TL;DL version is they deleted a bunch of pages the previous company created and didn't include them on the new website?
 

Joseph225

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Be sure you overthink it and make a whiteboard video please.
What's your problem with me? When I get stressed because something's happening, and am trying to make sure I understand everything that's going on, that's not overthinking. It still ******* streaks, unless I hold the end of the wand about shoulder height during the cleaning passes, which feels a little ridiculous.

The rest of you, I see, are badasses that never had a project go south on you. Sorry to have wasted your time, O Wise Asses.
 
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Nomad74

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What's your problem with me? When I get stressed because something's happening, and am trying to make sure I understand everything that's going on, that's not overthinking. It still ******* streaks, unless I hold the end of the wand about shoulder height during the cleaning passes, which feels a little ridiculous.

The rest of you, I see, are badasses that never had a project go south on you. Sorry to have wasted your time, O Wise Asses.
I have no problem. Relax. Just making you feel loved. Have you learned how to change the oil in you TM yet? Did you change the jets in your wand yet?
 

Mikey P

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What's your problem with me? When I get stressed because something's happening, and am trying to make sure I understand everything that's going on, that's not overthinking. It still ******* streaks, unless I hold the end of the wand about shoulder height during the cleaning passes, which feels a little ridiculous.

The rest of you, I see, are badasses that never had a project go south on you. Sorry to have wasted your time, O Wise Asses.
take it easy Francis.
 
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Hoody

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Joseph - I wasn't intending to be a "wise ass". Just some friendly advice - always get a clear scope of work and understanding of what your developer is providing or what you want them to provide. If they're developing on their server and you've requested they use Yoast you can also do a domain dot com/sitemap.xml or domain dot com/page-sitemap.xml to see the pages they've created.

It would have been better to preserve the old published dates on your blog posts from 2014-2015 with a direct xml export/import or put an update notice at the bottom when they were copy/pasted back in May.

From what I can see of the old site, the city pages would have likely tanked eventually anyways from a thin or duplicate content penalty or the June and July core updates. You were still linking to Google Plus on them. Take some time to re-write them and make them different from each other besides the H1 tag and title/meta description.
 
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FredC

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Yep........ignores any algorithm change

remember google wants to give someone the most relevant results to their query............and everyday they get better at deciding when you aren't it...especially outside of your primary location
 

Joseph225

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Joseph - I wasn't intending to be a "wise ass". Just some friendly advice - always get a clear scope of work and understanding of what your developer is providing or what you want them to provide. If they're developing on their server and you've requested they use Yoast you can also do a domain dot com/sitemap.xml or domain dot com/page-sitemap.xml to see the pages they've created.

It would have been better to preserve the old published dates on your blog posts from 2014-2015 with a direct xml export/import or put an update notice at the bottom when they were copy/pasted back in May.

From what I can see of the old site, the city pages would have likely tanked eventually anyways from a thin or duplicate content penalty or the June and July core updates. You were still linking to Google Plus on them. Take some time to re-write them and make them different from each other besides the H1 tag and title/meta description.
Thanks for the tip on using sitemaps. I'm a carpet cleaner who tries to be responsible enough to understand all aspects of a business, but SEO and web design are a little opaque to me, at times.

I don't know what you mean with the second para. "Preserve the old published dates on your blog posts"?

Third para...what are you doing to "see the old site"? I've tried several different ways to find backups with no joy. Hostgator says they backup for 3 months, but October 7th was the furthest back they could go, when I spoke to them towards the end of the month. It didn't make much sense, to me.

Location pages have been created for the site by the current company after I started making noise, and they're NOT particularly impressive. I've got a friend that works for a larger marketing firm who's helped me set up a to-do list in Basecamp for what to do with them to improve them. Can you be sure you're looking at pages from prior to September 8th, or is it possible you're seeing these?
 

FredC

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Thanks for the tip on using sitemaps. I'm a carpet cleaner who tries to be responsible enough to understand all aspects of a business, but SEO and web design are a little opaque to me, at times.

I don't know what you mean with the second para. "Preserve the old published dates on your blog posts"?

Third para...what are you doing to "see the old site"? I've tried several different ways to find backups with no joy. Hostgator says they backup for 3 months, but October 7th was the furthest back they could go, when I spoke to them towards the end of the month. It didn't make much sense, to me.

Location pages have been created for the site by the current company after I started making noise, and they're NOT particularly impressive. I've got a friend that works for a larger marketing firm who's helped me set up a to-do list in Basecamp for what to do with them to improve them. Can you be sure you're looking at pages from prior to September 8th, or is it possible you're seeing these?

keep the publication dates on blog post instead of them being published at the time the new site goes up

 

Joseph225

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keep the publication dates on blog post instead of them being published at the time the new site goes up

Holy ******* shit...

Fred, you're a goddamn wizard. Is it possible to reinstate that old site, in some way? Idgaf what's necessary to make it happen.
 

FredC

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Holy ******* shit...

Fred, you're a goddamn wizard. Is it possible to reinstate that old site, in some way? Idgaf what's necessary to make it happen.

It's possible to some extent but not likely to yield the previous results...................you're dealing with a constantly changing (and smart) algo


you're probably better off tweaking the new site.......and making sure redirects exist for "important" old stuff

but this isn't exactly wizard level shit
 

Joseph225

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You put me on the spot, unexpectedly, and I could have told you that I'm not a motivational speaker, if you'd only asked. I can teach technical concepts, and help people understand things, one on one...but in front of a bunch of people? Nope. Not me, man.
 
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Mikey P

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You put me on the spot, unexpectedly, and I could have told you that I'm not a motivational speaker, if you'd only asked. I can teach technical concepts, and help people understand things, one on one...but in front of a bunch of people? Nope. Not me,
It was the highlight of the event for Bryan and I, thank you.


and you were dead on in your assessments.
 

Joseph225

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It's possible to some extent but not likely to yield the previous results...................you're dealing with a constantly changing (and smart) algo


you're probably better off tweaking the new site.......and making sure redirects exist for "important" old stuff

and this isn't exactly wizard level shit but

View attachment 112009
I know the algorithms are constantly being updated, but I wasn't aware that there'd been content that would cause me to be penalized in some way. I just went back and looked at the rankings, and @Hoody said something about June and July updates to the algorithms. In that time period, I dropped from #1 to #4 for several keywords, but the BIG drops came with the implementation of the new site on September 8th.

What, specifically, was the problem that caused the drop in the June/July timeframe?

Also, let's acknowledge that "wizard" is a subjective term. Arthur C. Clarke said that whole thing about how "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", and I've gathered that you're a high level computer guy. Take the compliment.
 
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FredC

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What, specifically, was the problem that caused the drop in the June/July timeframe?

I can't say for sure and i'm not willing to take a deep dive on this (nothing personal) but as hoody suggested with the hyperfocus by the algo of you being physically located in the specific query area which is becoming more and more granular simply having pages like this:


isn't going to get you first page organic unless the area is lacking other options which becomes less and less of a possibility as more savvy users pop up with more local addresses/content...........and you're certainly not going to make it to the map pack without some wizardry

sidenote that page isn't particularly well optimized for the area targeted anyway




*focus in this area seems to have shifted to primarily to directories after the map
 
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Joseph225

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I can't say for sure and i'm not willing to take a deep dive on this (nothing personal) but as hoody suggested with the hyperfocus by the algo of you being physically located in the specific query area which is becoming more and more granular simply having pages like this:


isn't going to get you first page organic unless the area is lacking other options which becomes less and less of a possibility as more savvy users pop up with more local addresses/content...........and you're certainly not going to make it to the map pack without some wizardry




*focus in this area seems to have shifted to primarily to directories after the map
Gah. The text on that IS pretty lame. Will simply improving the text help, or is it more? (That's a yes/no question, rather than a query requesting you to tell me what else would be required).
 

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