Whenever a client appoints a web agency to re-launch their website that we don’t already have a relationship with, it always sets a trigger of fear in my mind that things won’t go to plan.

Well, it’s happened again. It’s happened before and I’m sure it will happen in the future, but I just can’t stress enough that it really, really shouldn’t.

We recently experienced a complete and absolute failure by a web agency that had absolutely no understanding of seo. I try not to put all web agencies in the same category, but most of those that say they do search haven’t got a clue. They produce a website that looks great, but that is about as far as it goes.

Launching a new website is, and should be, a really exciting time for a client: a breath of fresh air, a new look and lots of admiration.

But what if that also means you lose your search rankings and your website traffic?

This agency was told by us specifically to get the site finished and then give us two weeks to make sure the website not only looked great but was setup and optimised for search.

But what happened?

One day, all my alerts go off telling me there are broken pages, broken redirects, and multiple failures on this site. Straight away I load the site and realise they have ignored us completely and gone ahead, gung ho, and launched the site without even mentioning it to us.

The result?

I straight away log on to my search tools and find that there’s not just a few errors… there were a whopping 1,268 errors. There are broken pages, broken internal links, broken inbound links, no optimisation, the site was running slow, and this was only the tip of the iceberg.

I then log onto Google Analytics to check traffic and the last few days there has been nothing. I check the code and the analytics code has not even been installed – a rookie mistake.

Worse still, I go into Google and click on one of our prized number one ranking search terms and to my horror, I find a 404 error page on the website. They haven’t done the single most important part of launching a site and applied redirects. All of our years of hard work was straight away in danger.

Normally under these circumstances we would get to work on the live site, but this situation was so bad I immediately called the client and asked for authorisation to get the web company to restore the old site.

The old site was restored which then gave us chance to work on the staging site offline which should have happened before launch – as was instructed at the very beginning of the project.

A few (very busy) days later and we were able to sort it. All errors were fixed, all optimisations were done, a tracking code was put in place, we rewrote the un-optimised copy they had written and a full redirect map was written, tested, and put in place.

The site was then launched successfully for the second time with no further problems.

Thankfully this was picked up by us quickly and rectified. Those companies not working with a search agency alongside a web developer may not have picked it up in weeks or months. Sadly, I have seen websites’ traffic completely wiped out and rankings lost. If redirects aren’t put in place, you may as well just be launching a website for a new company rather than one at the top of its game that has been trading for years.

If there is one thing I can tell anyone about launching a new website is that it is VITAL to work alongside a company that specialises in seo only, and not just a web company that says that search is included in their work… because in almost all cases, it’s not.

Rant over!