If you are a regular visitor to my website you may have noticed that I had my website on maintenance for 2 weeks as I tried to improve the words and layout of the site. Although my intentions where to improve the experience of users I feel as though having any holding page in maintenance mode for longer than half a day is very bad for business.
In this post I explain why Maintenance Mode is bad for business and an alternative to having a holding page.
Google tells a story about a bad decision
I have been looking at website UI for my current boss on his website lately and I noticed my website had certain things that I wasn’t happy about. I felt things weren’t quite right and I wanted to add a e-commerce feature to my website in the near future and I didn’t feel the UI at the time was right for that kind of experience so when I was looking at my boss’ website I also decided to put my website under development and put my website on maintenance mode for 2 weeks…bad idea, just look at what has happened to my traffic 2 days later to having the new website live…
Its dived from 275 visitors a day to…10
… someone pass me a tissue box!
It was clearly bad for SEO
Looking at my webmaster account I again have gone from making over 2000 impressions with 150 clicks a day to 500 impressions and less than 10 clicks! Its a total disaster in terms of SEO and generating traffic.
Having created a holding page that lasted for 2 weeks so that I could alter the website from the backend of my CMS I thought it wouldn’t effect my traffic too much and those who are really interested in what I write would return once its live again but I realised it effected my google search ranking position and totally wiped out the work I had put into my blog…
…i did it the wrong way.
The right way to use Maintenance Mode
Unless you want to destroy your websites traffic there are several ways to build a new UI and appearance of your website without having to use a maintenance mode for a long period of time and this is how I recommend anyone makes big alterations to their site, use a program called ServerPress.
Serverpress in a nutshell allows you to create a virtual server for developing your site away from effecting your live site. No need for a maintenance mode ( well not for 2 weeks anyway! ).
Serverpress creates fictional domain names and lets you setup your server settings to replicate that of your website ( you don’t know how much I wish I had used Serverpress 2 weeks ago! ).Each virtual server resides on your computer and can be easily accessed from your desktop web browser via a fictitious, pseudo top-level domain; You build everything on that virtual server with ServerPress just as you would on the live site, only its pretend! Awesome or what!? You create all your new website elements to avoid damaging your online reputation and then once you feel everything is created to your liking export the design
…its at the exciting part..nearly ready to go live!
Setting your evolution a-live!
The problem I found with my maintenance mode setup was that I put my website on a maintenance holding page for 2 weeks..2 weeks! What the hell was I thinking? That was not clever! There is nothing that infuriates Google robots more than a dead end and even worse a maintenance page! This immediately decreased my google ranking for everyone of my pages because the bots couldn’t access the information and why my traffic is struggling to recover since becoming live again two days ago.
Although it is the case that maintenance pages are deadly in terms of SEO & web traffic they do have a use, once you have created all your pages, UI and images then you can use a maintenance page for a maximum of half a day to import your new design and make sure all links and permalinks are working how they should be.
Live and learn
This has been a learning process for me. I didn’t manage to get my website exactly as I wanted in two weeks, holding down a full time job, life pulling you in different directions and workloads increasing unexpectedly all made the process slower than I wanted. Setting a time limit for how long the new layout will take makes it more like mission impossible than a pleasant process that it should be.
When you make huge changes to layouts and the look and feel of your website you should make the changes on a virtual server first then export the design to the live domain…NEVER make big changes on a live site and by god…
DO NOT USE MAINTENANCE MODE FOR WEEKS ON END!!
lesson learned the hard way…