The Modus Mystery: How To Recover From A Failed Website Migration


Rick's Story

September 2nd, 2016.

7:30 am and Rick MacKirdy sat down at his desk, opened up his MacBook, and dug into Google Analytics.

When he saw the chart, he felt his heart drop and a cold chill crawl up his spine.

Traffic was down 99.4%.

And it happened almost overnight.

His company, Western Rubber & Supply, had been manufacturing gaskets, seals, vibration dampeners, and electromagnetically static discharge components for 40 years.

They were an industry leader.

Now zero leads were coming in the door.

Rick’s division sales managers and regional sales reps were at a loss.  His marketing and web teams didn’t have an answer either.

Western Rubber & Supply’s industry dominance wasn’t a fluke. Rick was a savvy businessman and marketer.

He knew modern marketing was an online game and had pivoted advertising and PR to digital channels. Rick knew the importance of search on Google, Bing, and Yahoo and how important Facebook and Instagram were over newspaper and magazine advertising.

Providing a best in class online experience was a priority.

In fact, 10 months earlier Rick began a complete website redesign. The plan was a ground-up re-branding of the company.

The new brand name reflected their modern business culture: "Modus Advanced".  Rick wanted to showcase this relevance with a modern website highlighting his company’s expertise, professionalism, and the strength of their long-term customer-base.

His goal was to make the new Modus Advanced website the industry’s most valuable resource on the web.

In December 2015, while prepping for the site renovation, Rick requested a technical SEO audit with a migration plan. The migration plan became the roadmap for the Inbound Agency he hired to migrate his site from WordPress to HubSpotCOS.

The technical SEO audit reports told him how many keywords he was ranking for (2700 at the time) which pages were ranking, and what organic value - free money - he was getting from Google based on those keywords.

We presented the SEO data and handed it off to Rick’s lead strategist at the agency. The project to migrate Western Rubber to Modus Advanced was in-flight.

The first few months of the transition went well. The agency's team created did everything right.

They embraced content marketing.

Rick called in Marcus Sheridan and the team learned about hiring the right content writers, building content that was most valuable for their customers and focusing on the questions they knew their clients wanted answers to.

The new “Modus Advanced” brand was built some of the county's best graphics artists, designers, and user interface specialists. By the time launch day came around on September 1st, 2016, everyone thought they were ready to go.

They flipped the switch. This was Rick’s moment of truth.

The bottom fell out.

  • 90% of his organic traffic crashed overnight
  • Keywords had gone to zero
  • None of his old pages were redirecting to the new website pages
  • It was a complete and utter disaster for the company

He had no idea how to pick up the pieces or even where to start.

Rick called us and we had a serious conversion about next steps.  In the post-mortem we took a step back and pulled up our December reports to see what went wrong.

The new site’s foundation was missing:

  • The domain name wasn't set up properly.
  • The site didn’t have a security certificate.
  • The brand new domain had no domain authority, because URLs hadn’t been redirected properly.
  • None of the redirects in the roadmap were installed by their vendor.

We told Rick we had to go back to the basics. So we grabbed the best cup of coffee we could, sat down and hammered out a recovery plan over the following weeks.

We told Rick we’d focus only on the keywords he wanted to rank for. We’d drop pages ranking for keywords irrelevant to his business which, in the rubber industry, run from vehicle mounts and bushings to every sort of toy you can imagine.

Then, with the Google SEO game plan in place, we dug into the redirects piece by piece.

After three months of nonstop technical SEO work, Rick’s traffic and leads were improving.

His conversion ratios had improved, and Modus Advanced was rising from the ashed of a botched website migration.

Recovering the site didn't involve magic pills, or the typical SEO non-sense that fills your inbox every day.

It was a simple, heads-down, fingers-on-the-keyboard, grind.

It was making sure every SEO error code, sitemap.xml, and robots.txt configuration fit in its proper place.

It was as complicated and as simple as that.

Today is an industry leader in EMI shielding and gasket sectors.  Their motto is "One Day Matters" for every customer they serve, including Tesla, Medtronics the U.S. Navy Seals.

If you're living through the same migration nightmare Rick did - or planning your own migration and want to avoid a traffic loss, we would love to discuss your project.

Find out what's included with a Google SEO audit on this page: Technical SEO Audit page.