The impact of a botched website migration

There comes a time in the life of any organisation that it’s desirable, even necessary, to dramatically overhaul their website. However without careful planning and a thorough knowledge of the correct process, launching a new website can be fraught with danger.

How bad can it be?

Leading up to a pitch we heavily research a company to understand the effectiveness of their current marketing activity and identify areas where we can add value. On the rare occasion that we’re unsuccessful, we’ll sometimes continue to keep an eye on them and the results of their chosen course of action. One such company is Company X. Despite our best efforts, they decided that they couldn’t afford our (or any other agencies) services and that “all” they needed to grow was a new website and they “know somebody who does them”.

Having noticed their new website had gone live, we spotted some very startling results (but probably not the ones they were hoping for)…

The organic traffic to their site halved within days.

Organic Traffic via AHREFS

Source:ahrefs.com

Not a slow, gradual decline in their free search traffic. A cliff edge.

Let’s be generous and assume they convert 10% of site visitors into paying customers, with an average sale value of £300. Overnight, their average daily revenue could be down over £3,000.

So what went wrong?

From analysis of their site, the somebody they know didn’t know at all. Numerous things went drastically wrong, all at the same time, creating a perfect storm:

  • They migrated from a “http://www.” domain to “http://” without fully redirecting their old site – leading to a mix of duplicate content, page not found errors (404s) and broken backlinks
  • At they same time they changed the site structure, without page by page redirects – again leading to page not found errors (404s) and broken backlinks
  • In the process they abandoned their news feed/blog, deleting the highest quality and most shared content from their site – again more 404s
  • They removed the meta descriptions from their new pages – making it harder to determine relevance
  • A fifth of their new pages now have no stylesheet associated with them – making the pages almost impossible to read

Having blown almost every rule in the book on how to manage a successful website migration, Company X moved from a fully indexed site to a new site consisting of 16 pages, of which…

… only 7 pages continue to be indexed
… of these, 5 result in a page not found error (404)
… leaving only 2 pages indexed … at least for now

Valuable content that was once indexed has been removed and not replaced, leading to a drastic fall in their customers ability to find and transact with them.

Given they experienced no substantive growth in organic traffic for the 7 months preceding the launch of their new site, unless they act now the prognosis is not good.

The sting in the tail.

The icing on the cake. The real kicker to this story. Company X’s website pre- and post-migration has no analytics solution.

Nibbler screenshot

Without our intervention, their only way of knowing something is going wrong will be a sudden decline in revenue. Even then, without the correct analytics tools it’s unlikely they’ll correctly diagnose the cause.

We have tried to contact the owners of Company X, via phone and email, to inform them of their issues. As yet with no response. Hopefully they will act. (and thank their luck stars that someone was watching over them.)


Don’t be a Company X.

Don’t put the fate of your business into the hands of an amateur. Use a professional. Only a thorough knowledge of the correct process will ensure the successful launch of your new website.

Discover the capabilities of Light the Fuse and how we can help your business grow, with professional multi-disciplinary marketing support.

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