A couple days ago I received an e-mail from someone who first reached out to me 9 or 10 months ago about updating one of her websites (she has 3 of them) to WordPress.
Anyway, when she first contacted me all those months (back in October or November, if memory serves) she mentioned how she wanted to hire me after the new year. That was fine with me since I was working on a LOT of new projects at the time. So when January came and my e-mails to her went unanswered I realized that she probably hired somebody else work on the site.
No biggy, since this also happens from time to time.
Needless to say, when I saw her email in my inbox about scheduling a call with me I knew something had most likely gone wrong and she needed some help.
This also happens from time to time (some clients actually do refer to me as “Mr. Fixit”).
A WordPress gone wrong
During our call she referenced how she hired a virtual assistant to update her old HTML website to WordPress.
I think paid the woman $15 an hour.
Look, no offense but flat fee pricing is the ONLY way to price this kind of work. Prospective clients sometimes do ask why my “hourly rate” is and I tell them I don’t charge by the hour. Why on earth would I? Why should you pay me more for being slow, for goodness sakes?!
So, paying someone by the hour might make sense if the person you’re hiring is doing – the lack of a better word – “grunt work” for your business. You know, repetitive tasks, simple filing, bookkeeping even. But when it comes to hiring someone to work on your website (or for creating any marketing materials for your business) why on God’s green earth would you ever hire someone and pay them hourly.
Again, paying someone hourly essentially means you’re buying incompetence, or inexperience, or both.
That was her first mistake.
Her next mistake was eve worse. As she mentioned during our call she is not a very technically savvy person. She knows how to log in and update content on a WordPress site, but that’s about it. And to be honest, about 90% of my clients fall into that category, so that’s not a big deal. But what IS a big deal is the fact that her ignorance of technical “stuff” meant she could not properly “police” the person she hired who was only MARGINALLY more technical than her.
When you hire somebody to update your site who is only a bit more technically savvy than you are how will you know that they’ve done a good job from a technical standpoint? In other words, though your site might “look better” how would you even know that all the important technical elements a working properly?
Why 301 redirects are important
In the case of the woman who called (and who quickly signed up as a new client) she mentioned that her site traffic, and therefore leads, had gone down dramatically after updating the site.
Though the virtual assistant she hired did, in fact, update most of her old webpages into WordPress, she failed to implement the most important piece when updating older html sites to WordPress that have long been indexed by Google… setting up 301 redirects.
So what is a 301 redirect?
It’s a Google-friendly way to point old pages (or sites) to new pages (or sites). This is important for older sites because any links will end with a .html at the end (for example, sample-page.html). However, new WordPress pages will use a much different URL structure and if permalinks are set up correctly will use this ending (/sample-page/). So if anybody clicked on an old link, say in your newsletter, email, or from finding your OLD page indexed by Google and they click on the OLD link they will NOT land on your new page.
Without a properly executed 301 redirect they will end up with a 404 page not found error message. Not an ideal situation to be sure.
But wait, it can get worse. Much worse, in fact.
IF your 404 page not found error is set up right your web visitors will at least land on your site, and can begin navigating to your content if they choose to. Yet, for my new client her 404 wasn’t set up correctly. In fact, it was such a “wonky looking” 404 error because when I tested an old link to see what came up I got an error page that wasn’t even on her site.
It was impossible to navigate to her new content.
To make matters worse, the error page made it look like her old site was gone, taken down from the server.
Which meant that all the traffic coming in from Google and from links in her newsletter were not landing on her new website at all. So it was pretty easy to figure out why her traffic was down, along with her leads and revenue.
As she mentioned during our call, “you get what you pay for I guess.” And right before she hung up my new and somewhat relieved client said to me “I should’ve hired you from the beginning all those months ago.”
The moral of the story?
You do at the end of the day get what you pay for…
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