Just recently I had a large Plumbing/HVAC client come to us seeking emergency help in restoring their website presence on the internet because their current SEO Firm got wind that they were about to let them go. The good news was that Topstream was able to help our new client get back online within a day and we gained a very happy SEO client. The even better news, our plumbing client learned a lesson on what not to do or should we say, we educated them on the steps on making sure that this does not happen to them in the future.
When the plumbing company was referred to us about our services, the first question we asked was did they have control over their website files and hosting company? Or did they have copies of their website. And they said no. That was clue number 1 that they were going to meet some resistance with their current SEO firm when they to cut ties with them. Next step was to advise them to ask the SEO firm for access or admin access to the hosting company, copies of the files for their records. I also get a little concerned if a client is unsure whether they own the domain name they are using too.
We use this website http://whois.domaintools.com/ to check for information then we know how can proceed. If for some reason we discover the domain name is not owned by the client, and this has happened, then there is no recourse but to start fresh with new hosting, new domain, new website. This is not the end of the world and in most cases is actually a better strategy moving forward.
In this case the plumbing company did own their domain and believed they had paid full price for the website and that they owned the rights. In fact there was a copyright noting that they owned the rights as well however they did not actually own or have any copies of their site. We told the owner to try and be as careful as possible not to tip off the SEO firm on their intentions but to merely let them know that they needed to keep records on file. It is well within their rights to do so. However, this did not work and the worst occurred, the owner called us in a panic, his site suddenly disappeared off the internet. He called us saying that the SEO firm "claimed" that someone "redirected" the domain name. We logged into GoDaddy where the domain was registered and it was clear that the domain was pointed to a ghost "seo server" but it was not local, and it was not GoDaddy.
The first thing Topstream did was to immediately assure our new client that we can fix this with a quick landing page that would closely match the missing site using and new domain name and new hosting and then start building a new site. The client wanted some new features and functions and to add new services to their new company website, so it made sense that a new look, new pages, new logo, new name had to be part of the new site. It took us about 5-6 hours to build a matching suitable landing page. In the end, it worked out better for the client because we completed the new site within a new week, or should we say "reconstructed" closely but it displayed, functioned and was better optimized that within just a few weeks, this customer's new website was in a higher ranking and already appearing on first page and higher on some original keywords from the older site.
We were able to actually restart their Google Adwords Campaigns directed to the new site. We also installed a 404 redirection plugin to pick up all those urls that were missing from the downed website to redirect back to the landing page so visitors are not put off with a 404 error page. We didn't miss a beat and the damage to our client was minimized.
Here is our website checklist: Website Checklist