What to do and not to do when switching website agencies

What to do and not to do when switching website agencies

July 20, 2021
(Reading time: 5 - 10 minutes)

Recently we had a couple of clients who wanted to move their services to another vendor. This may not seem like a big deal, but moving your website or performing a website migration can be a bigger task than one might think. This is especially true if you have engaged in any type of content marketing. In this post, I want to provide you with four examples of clients who moved, the mistakes they made, and how they could have been remedied and provide you with a checklist of what you should do and look out for if you want to move your website and marketing efforts to another agency.

What not to do when moving services

Here are four examples where the former clients made some big mistakes when they moved their services.

I am scared of a recession

Example 1: I am scared of a recession

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked with a client who was an interior designer. They were about four months into our content marketing efforts, and we were starting to see traction. However, they decided to pull out for fear of a pending recession and because they thought people wouldn’t want them in their homes. I even told them, “Why would you want to stop now, as we are going into lockdown? People will be staring at four walls, and there will be pent-up demand once things open back up.” Of course, they could only see the money going out and not seeing the gains they could have made if they had stayed in. Instead of transferring the site that was already built and optimized, this client had a new site built and didnt’ bring over any content that was already created and designed to start ranking.

 I have a friend who is going to do Google Ads and take over the website

Example 2: I have a friend who is going to do Google Ads and take over the website

In this instance, we were told by this 12-year client, who we recently increased services for and was seeing great success in increased traffic, that they were going to move to their “friend” and “spend *expletive* amount of money on Google PPC Ads.” Over the next few months, we discovered that they had a major falling out with the “friend.” By that time, we had already transferred the domain away to the friend and shut down our site that had over six years of optimized content bringing in a fair amount of traffic each month. Flash forward six months, they recovered the domain after months of work, and they have a “new site,” that was an incomplete copy of the site we had built from a copy at the Internet Archive. The new vendor didn’t bring over any of the optimized content that was created specifically for the client and now Internet traffic to the site, that was down for over 5 months, must start from scratch.

I need to save money, so I am moving services

Example 3: I need to save money, so I am moving services

This client recently moved to the area and set up a new business, and hired us to design, develop and perform content marketing services for them. When they contacted us to tell us they were leaving; they said it was a cost factor. I understand cost can be an issue for some clients. However, if they had contacted us before hiring another vendor, we could have gladly worked with them to review goals and suggest service changes to meet their budget, while still being successful online. Instead, this client’s new vendor didn’t bring over any content created for them that was building rank in the search engines, and started essentially from scratch with Internet rankings.

I go to church with this guy who is going to do the website

Example 4: I go to church with this guy who is going to do the website

By now, you probably see a pattern in my examples. Therefore I won’t go into the details. But this example has a twist; as this client came back, we restored their original site (as we keep a backup of all the files, just call us digital packrats). And I am happy to report they are seeing significant gains in their business to the point they have had to hire more staff to handle all the work that has come in.

The common thread

There are two common threads between all the examples mentioned. 

The site was recreated from scratch, or the design was copied. Now we have no problem with another vendor copying the design, as it is your site, and it follows your business’s branding. In each example, the issue is the new vendor didn’t do their due diligence in performing a proper website migration. They all have failed to move most of the content on the site. At best, they might have moved the top pages. However, we have monitored these sites, and none of the blogs, landing pages, or geographic landing pages have reappeared. Therefore all the gains we had made for them are sense long gone.

Think about this - in the first three examples, clients invested several thousands of dollars over several years, and now they have nothing to show for it. I am reminded of the words spoken by the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, of which he said, “He chose... poorly.” All three made poor business decisions and essentially rented the content. Now I have often said, “don’t build your business on rented land,” which is essentially what the business in the first three examples did; they chose to rent versus buy now have nothing to show for it. Obviously, I have a vested interest in keeping the client. However, if I am objective, I feel like it was a poor business decision not to have a conversation with us, or if you are considering moving, not to have a conversation with your current agency about costs if that is the real issue. When someone talks to me about cost, I am often reminded of the phrase attributed to by inventor, patriot, and founding father of the United States, Benjamin Franklin. That phrase is:  

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” 

With that being said, let’s look at what to do if you want to move forward with a website migration.

Website Migration Checklist

Website Migration Checklist

Website migration is one of those time-consuming tasks that might help your site in the long run, but it may also go horribly wrong. Failure to move content, improper redirects, sitemap issues, problems with robots.txt files, and even broken internal links and images can wreak havoc and cause a significant drop in organic search traffic.

Use this list to double-check how to do a proper migration.

1. Take an inventory of your current site

The first thing you will want to do is take an inventory of the current site. While this can be time-consuming, some tools can help build a visual sitemap for you. SEM Rush has a round-up of the 10 of the Best XML Sitemap Generator Tools. I would also suggest doing a page-by-page inventory and using Google Sheets to help you organize it. 

2. Check for Non-indexable content

I have heard of this happening. A business wants to move from one agency to another. The current employed agency hands over the site but has set it to no-index and no-follow. Now what they have done is turned off your site to Google and all the other search engines. If this has happened, your search traffic will drop like a rock!

3. Check existing pages are moved

If you are moving content management systems, then often times you may have to move each page by hand. While this is a laborious process, it is necessary and something that a good agency should do. This should include blogs, landing pages, geographic landing pages, and any other pages identified in the inventory.

4. Check page redirects

Page redirects are very much what they sound like. If a site has been around for a few years, chances are there will be internal links and external sites linking to pages and content. If a site has been moved, all-new pages are created, you must ensure that all the old pages redirect to the current one if the URL has changed. We will often see this happen with sites where the menu is restructured, pages combined or removed.

5. How are you handling email

Let’s face it email vital to a business these days. One of the biggest challenges you may face when moving your website is email. Suppose you are using a cloud-based email provider such as Google Workspace, formerly known as Google Apps for Business, Google Apps for Work, G Suite, or the artist formally known as G-Sw33t (ok, I confess I made the last one up), or Office 365. In that case, you don’t have to worry about it much. However, if you are using email addresses hosted on your web server, then moving hosts and moving your website just got a lot harder. Most agencies know what to do and can help you with it. One side note, if you are using a consumer-based email service such a G-mail or Yahoo, you are fine as well. If you are using an AOL address or an email address provided by your internet service provider, you may want to consider another option. We can help you with that as we are a Google Workspace Reseller.

6. What other assets are on your website

Most small businesses don’t realize what all is on their website and what isn’t. In most cases, this happens with videos as they are not hosted on your website. It is much more efficient to load them from a third-party website such as Vimeo or YouTube. At Cube Creative Design, we much prefer Vimeo to host video for a variety of reasons. If you are moving your website, you will need to make sure that you have a copy of those videos as the agency you are moving from may remove access or delete your videos once the switch is made.

Other items we often see not being moved are pdf documents and downloadable files. These can be a little harder to track down, but there again, it all goes back to the site inventory. 

7. Other items and accounts 

When moving agencies, you will also want to take an inventory of your social media accounts, Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and accounts, usernames, and passwords of any other software integrated into your marketing efforts. Make sure that you have ownership of them, and you can add your new agency while removing or revoking access to the old one.

Final thoughts

When Cube Creative Design started in 2005, moving your website from one agency to another was a much simpler process. As time went on sites, have gotten more complicated, asked to do much more than just be an online version of your brochure. They have since become an integral part of many small businesses and may be your biggest marketing effort. If you are considering moving agencies, I implore you to be cautious and consider all your options. Have a conversation with your current agency about what you want to do and where you want your business to go to ensure you are both on the same page.

Now, if you are looking to move your website and marketing efforts to an agency that thrives on helping small businesses grow, then reach out to us for a free consultation. We will be happy to discuss your options and see if moving is the best option for you and your business.

Chad Treadway

Written by:  |  July 20, 2021

Chad is our business development manager. He will help you survey your business needs, ensuring you are educated on your options before suggesting any solution. Chad also has several certifications through HubSpot to better assist you with your internet and inbound marketing.

See Chad Treadway's' bio: cubecreative.design/about/chad-treadway