A few weeks back I had something happen to my business that no one should have happen. I had a complete cratering of my online presence. My crack SEO team, Dragonsearch, discovered that my site had been hacked. Every page except my home page had pharmaceutical spam attached to it. Instead of being indexed as a company that offers mobile market research and strategy, we were now the purveyor of pharmaceutical products. Frightening indeed.
We also decided to perform a Web site refresh. I’ll spare you the details but we decided to change the Web hoster for my services. Why? Well, Dreamhost is down quite a bit. As a matter of a fact, they had a critical outage on the day we discovered my spam-ridden status. The outage was so bad that my web team was locked out of my account for about a day.
Now it gets really interesting. After I managed to sign up my new hoster, Bluehost, there is something wrong with my validation. Despite the fact that Bluehost took my money and told me my account was validated, my service wasn’t available. Hence, phone calls had to be made from the airport and there were apologies because they forgot to deflag something. (It was flagged originally for my security, which is good, but it should’ve been unflagged after my scanned documents were received.) After I’m “validated” (because after all, who doesn’t need alittle validation) the team moves my site.
My site is down during this timeframe, which could take up to 24 hours for the servers to change over etc. So it’s the middle of the week, I’m doing a presentation to over a 1,000 people and my site is down. Not my favorite scenario, but I pushed the team to get the Web site ported so all the people I’d meet could see the new site. It’s laughable now but at the time I wanted to cry when my site was down. Now the real fun begins. My email is down. Yes, my lovely Google apps email is tied to my old hoster and needs to be moved. I’ll spare you the details with one exception. My email was down for over 24 hours.
My site was down, my blog was down and all of my emails bounced. It’s the middle of proposal season and I’m at conferences meeting a bunch of people. For a day, I had basically disappeared from the online business world. Sure, there was Twitter and Facebook but most business prospects don’t contact you there. Fortunately, a few people did connect with me on LinkedIn. Many folks sent me Skype messages and text messages saying “ You’re site/email is down”. For this, I was thankful. It was also frightening. I still have no idea who gave up on connecting me because I had disappeared from the Internet. My site was up before my email and my contact form on the web also bounced. My team at Dragon worked diligently to get my back up as fast as possible, but they can’t fix issues with hosters and Internet servers propogating your changes.
What have I learned from this experience?
1) Never do a site relaunch or any major relaunch during the week.
2) Run things in parallel until you are sure everything is working.
3) Be around when the launch happens. If you’re on a plane, you can’t give people passwords etc. that are required to make things happen and you can’t call the vendors to “validate” anything. I lost at least 6 working day hours of uptime as a result of this.
4) Buy quality. You want to be able to call someone when things go wrong. If I didn’t have the DragonSearch team, I’d probably still have spam and still be trying to get up and running. Not to mention the fact, this was my SEO team acting as my IT team in my absence. Great customer service. I’ve used many of the new outsourced services – Elance, Guru.com, 99designs, yourremoteassistant etc. Some services were successful and others were disappointing. I’m a cloud fanatic but this reminds why its good to actually have people you can call if things go wrong.
I share this with you, not as a rant, but hopefully to be helpful. If anyone is interested in reading more about my SMB tales of joy and woe, please let me know by leaving a comment. This blog was designed for mobile industry trends but I’d be happy to share my experiences as an entrepreneur.