This has been a strange week. On Tuesday I was very worried about two things – Hurricane Hanna looked to be heading for a direct hit, and one of our clients took a major dive in Google for their key search terms.
Here’s what I’ve learned from this:
Examine the Situation
Hurricane: We weren’t as ready as we should have been. What needed to be done? Where would we stay? When would we leave? What would we bring?
Website: Had any major changes been made? Were other companies affected the same way? What was being said at Webmaster World and other boards?
Hurricane: We made hotel reservations which could be canceled right up to the last minute with no penalty. We sorted through documents, cleaned out the old and organized the relevant ones. Bought extra candles, water and supplies.
Website: Looked through the code for anything that had gotten ‘messed up’. Checked out some competitors to see how they were looking. Analyzed the traffic that was still being sent from Google.
Waiting. And waiting.
In both instances there was a lot of waiting.
Hurricane: Once we had established that we were ready as we could be, there was little to do but check the NHC tracking maps and listen for local advisories regarding a possible evacuation.
Website: There was still plenty of traffic coming from Google, it was just some of the most searched phrases that had taken a hit. We weren’t banned at least! We still had good back links. Nothing was obviously wrong on the site. So…we wait.
Hurricane: By Thursday it was pretty clear we should dodge the worst of it. Schools were closed as a precautionary measure on Friday, but other than some stronger than usual wind, and a little extra rain, we were fine. Yay!
Website: We tried to limit checking to once (okay, maybe twice) a day. On Saturday things were still not looking great – we had second page positions, but they were bouncing around between #19 and #20. Then, on Sunday, the storm blew past and the sun came out – back up to top 5 for both the affected search terms. Yay!
Somethings are just simply beyond your control. Yes, you should prepare for hurricanes and you can optimize for Google, but that doesn’t stop bad things happening.
What is important is that when it looks like trouble, then you know what to do.