Case Study Project Phoenix

Discussion in 'Case Studies and Journals' started by emp, Jul 6, 2016.

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  1. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    So... this project revolves around the doc lead gen site.

    Let me show you some history what lead to this point.
    Even my own fuckups. While I am not at fault, I could have mitigated some of the fallout with a faster reaction.

    So here is the timeline. Keep in mind this is a set and forget operation. This site has turned in about low $xxx per month, sometimes less, sometimes more. Completely passive.

    4th of May
    I called my hoster, asking to get rid of a domain registration.
    Little did I know that would be my downfall.

    [​IMG]

    2nd of June
    Last known lead received. It is not unusual for that site to go without a lead for a while.

    4th of June
    Hoster turns off the hosting. NOT the domain.
    I don't notice, because set and forget, passive income, yadayada

    10th of June
    Meeting with the doc, talked about some improvements, cash collected.

    Rest of June
    Rank tracker tells me rankings are tanking.
    I chalk it down to google dancing.

    4th of July
    I decide to check why the rankings are tanking.
    Wow.. this is bad.
    Better check the site... WTF...

    Lots of calls with the hoster the last days.

    Long story short, they messed up and deleted the data for all my domains.
    I wasn't notified of the killing of the hosting package because the employee did it on her own after my phone call.
    Seems if I don't initiate it on the site, the message isn't processed as usual. The admin needs to start the process, which she did not.

    So I did not know.

    Data is only kept 7 days. Yep, all gone.

    I might have done something would I have known or kept a VERY close eye on the numbers.. but yeah.. set and forget and all that.

    Where do we stand now?

    Project Phoenix
    Out of the ashes, anew.

    This site was on spot 3-5 for several niche keywords.
    As the downtime was a month, I'll have a climb, but nothing too bad (I keep telling myself).
    Funnily enough, rank tracking tells me some things are still moving UP in rank, while the rest is tanking. (Reaction time, much, google?)

    1. Move everything to new host
    I already killed all the registrations at the host and will receive the transfer codes today.
    After that, I can move to a new hoster.

    2. Rebuild
    Rebuild the site.

    3. Rise
    This gives me the opportunity (ha!) to improve the content, add some more, and maybe include some bells and whistles.
    I'll also be forced to hit social media, build new links, and research some more channels.


    TL;DR
    Bad luck, incompetence, and loose tracking lead to downfall of a passive income site.
    Let's rebuild.
     
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  2. Envrin

    Envrin Active Member

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    http://tarsnap.com/ -- awesome for backups.

    No offence dude, but your own fault. You should know to have regular backups in place outside of your host.
     
  3. cherub

    cherub Active Member

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    Who is the host? Just so we know not to use them ourselves!
     
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  4. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    @Envrin
    Don't worry, I have a backup.
    More time is being spent moving to another host.
    While a backup is nice, the real damage was in me being blindsided.

    The "data is gone" is annoying because they can't just press a button and my site is back.
    But then, I would not stay with them, anyway.

    @cherub
    3 hosts not to use (all Swiss)
    hostpoint.ch
    green.ch
    metanet.ch

    (yeah, I seem to have a bad luck with providers, but the Swiss market surprises me - so far all of them have been rcommended and all of them have been less than stellar.)

    ::emp::
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
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  5. Envrin

    Envrin Active Member

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    How time sensitive is your site? I mean, does being down for hours mean you lose say $10k, or is it just a headache, or?

    If you have proper backups in place, you should be able to be back online with a new host within a few hours at most. Configuring a new server from vanilla install only takes about an hour tops.

    I can recommend Cloudflare for DNS, if you're not already using it. That way, changes to the IP are almost instant.

    Then if your site is time sensitive, you could always setup a cheap hot swap with someone like Digital Ocean using rsync and database replication, so if / when the site goes down again, it's back online within minutes.
     
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  6. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    Not time sensitive, or I would have noticed earlier.

    All in all, I am annoyed, and I lost a LOT of rank.

    Being up inside a few hours somewehere else is true in the US... in Europe, that is a wet dream.
    Seriously, a change of ownership requires a printed out document being mailed around......

    ::emp::
     
  7. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    but, not to digress...

    What I did today:

    • Killed old setup
    • Ordered domain setup and hosting at new provider.

    If all goes well, I can start to play the data back tomorrow.

    ::emp::
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
  8. sites

    sites Active Member

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    Subscribed.

    Is this the balloon site? ;-)
     
  9. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    yes, it is.
     
  10. Bender Bending Rodríguez

    Bender Bending Rodríguez Senior Member

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    ... must the site be hosted on a swiss server? Must it be hosted on an EU server? With a CDN, there's no need for the server to be in the country of its target market.
     
  11. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    This is a local lead gen site.

    It might be superstition, but I still feel G putting weight on local hosting when marketing locally.

    But what I KNOW for a fact is that the locals love .ch sites. Also speed issues.

    being blunt about it, it astonishes me that the high tech nation Switzerland has all its incompetence focused on hosting.
    Well, I guess it has to go somewhere - US puts it into politics..

    :p

    ::emp::
     
  12. cardine

    cardine Administrator Staff Member

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    Since we have already talked about testing different TLDs for their keywords, I think adding local TLD testing would be a great addition to a case study like this. It'd be interesting to see in a controlled environment exactly how much of an impact foreign TLDs (or hosting) would provide.
     
  13. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    @cardine
    This case would be pretty worthless for that.

    What I am optimizing for is leads.
    While a .com or .net might see rankings, the Swiss will click on .ch (the also use google.ch)

    Age,etc... Are on the side of the existing domain, too.

    Trying to think up a good testing scenario... Will report back.

    In project news:
    Things have picked up in Swiss tech. One big driver is that "SWITCH" www.switch.ch is not doing domains anymore. They provided services mainly for the universities here.
    Now that they let go of that, all other providers are scrambling to get a piece.
    Cue electronic domain transfers.
    (Changing owners still needs a printed form)

    In my case that means things have been moving.

    Domains were transferred yesterday, wordpress install is done, hopefully the DNS propagation is through soon (can take a while)

    Next steps:
    • Theme (the look needs a change. Same theme, different colors, some image replacements)
    • plugins (one main plugin needs a replacement)
    • Rewrite articles (oh god, did I write that tripe?)
    • Move tracking to MSM
    I won't be able to access the WP admin backend before the DNS propagates. All well though, since I will be at work until midnight today (software release)

    All in all I'm taking this as an opportunity. There are changes I wanted to do for a while, so now is the time to invest some work.

    ::emp::
     
  14. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    Had some time to work on the site yesterday evening.

    Most of it was spent wrangling some plugins into submission, though. Yay updates and breaking code.

    I am still ranking on page 1 for several keywords, but not as nicely as I was.

    Right now though, empty pages are starting to be shown, so I am hurrying up to get the content back.
    Might need to just put up the old stuff without reworking it first.

    [​IMG]

    ::emp::
     
  15. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    Small update Arrowes are on the very important ones

    [​IMG]

    ::emp::
     
  16. KingsWood

    KingsWood Member

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    To address the first point, a regional domain can still point to a server in another location.
    Being in the UK, the same click bias for .uk domains exists, but for a number years i used to host with american hosts for features, flexibility and price (the whole sterling usd / brexit f*ck up is another post...).
    Nowdays, i predominantly use UK servers, but visitors/google wont know that, because everything goes via cloudflare proxy anyway - free CDN, caching, gzip, concurrent resource loading, SSL etc.

    regarding the second, here is a super simple trick:

    Update your hosts file to point to the new servers IP.
    Eg your new server is on 65.72.4.226 , then add the following to your hosts file:

    65.72.4.226 yourdomain.ch
    65.72.4.226 www.yourdomain.ch
    65.72.4.226 any.other.subdomians.yourdomain.ch

    Now you can visit the url in the browser and see the response from the new server.

    This is also usefull for local development (swap the server ip for 127.0.0.1) if you are using a software package that doesnt understand the difference between config and content (looking at you wordpress...), as often the full url will be scattered throughout the database, and a find and replace will blow up if php serialization has been used.
     
  17. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    Still a speed issue. I like my sites snappy.
     
  18. KingsWood

    KingsWood Member

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    Fair enough, i havent personally had any performance problems, but i guess alot depends on the connection between networks and in the case of cloudflare proxy, the quality of the nearest node.

    I just checked a site hosted on fairly basic uk shared hosting, run behind cloudflare with forced ssl and got 98% performance score and around 1.1 seconds total page load on pingdom, tested from Sweden and Newyork.

    Have you personally had poor performance issues using other European hosts? I havent exactly been tracking the swiss franc but i imagine uk hosts should be pretty competitively priced right now.

    Anyway, sorry for the going off track, back to the site in the op - how has traffic been effected since you resurrected the site?

    Im surprised your ranking held up so well after so much downtime.
     
  19. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    Well, not the fastest moving niche.

    I am done with migrating the old content, now working on new content and social media setup

    Next steps:
    - new twitter posts
    - blog posts (did not have that before)
    - 2 new articles
    - rewriting of old stuff
    - more links

    ::emp::
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2016
  20. emp

    emp Senior Member

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    I forgot that I am changing the color scheme and layout a bit as well.

    For some reason (research I did at the time), I had a green/white color scheme, but nowadays, the medical niche I am in is all white and blues.

    ::emp::