How The Wrong Advice Can Quickly Bring Down A Small Business Website

As a small business owner on the internet you probably already know that one silly mistake can send your rankings spiraling down to page 100 where you will never be found, resulting in lost revenue and for some complete failure.

You might be thinking that you are about to read about some Google penalty like Panda or Penguin but that is not the case.

Bring Down Small Business

What I am about to share with you is a true story about how one small business owner received the wrong advice and is now paying a very big price. But before we get into the story here is a link to help you can get an idea of what this site does.  You may want to have a look at the products it sells.

Currently there are only three products, however they are very popular in Australia for water storage in new homes and businesses. They are the most innovative slimline tanks that I have seen to date. If we can kick-start this business again there will be additional products being added at a later date.

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you think you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain ~

This story actually starts back around February 2013 when the owner of this small business website Thintanks contacted me to say he was going to use a different company to redesign his business site for him. I was initially a little annoyed, as I had spent hours of my time trying to convince him that he needed to move away from the older HTML site he had and upgrade to a more modern and preferable Mobile Responsive WordPress Theme.

I specifically told him that he needed to use a WordPress site as well as making sure it was Mobile Responsive or he would be wasting his money and time. He said he understood and that his new designer had guaranteed him the site would meet those needs.

After some weeks had passed the phone rang, and to my surprise it was the owner of Thintanks calling me to explain that he had made a huge mistake. He actually called to ask if I would take his website back over and in his words FIX IT. I told him that I could not give any guarantees as I had not seen the new design or even what had been done on the back end of the site.

Needless to say I was horrified at what I saw.

The site was built using a free template from WordPress and was full of very thin content specifically targeting locations rather than products. The location targeting was a collection of pages that all had identical content with only the location changed on each page. And to make it even worse this designer had also created a number of doorway pages on different sites targeting capital cities within Australia all with the same content with the title of the page changed to reflect the city.

Oh and to make it even worse all the content on those doorway pages was copied straight from the main website. Each page also had two identical links with anchor text and URLs all the same.

This web designer had also contacted a Thintanks distributor in New Zealand and had sold them on the idea that he could build them a better website than the one they had which was also HTML. What this designer did was copy all the content from the main manufacturer’s website and place it on the distributor’s website as well as the exact same WordPress template including images.

This was the first mistake, the distributor site in New Zealand was launched before the actual manufactures site resulting in lower ranking than what it once had.

The next mistake was the web designer after removing all the old HTML pages – which by the way had PageRank ranging from PR1 to PR3 on all pages – to NOT Redirect the old HTML pages to the new WordPress pages.

This resulted in the site disappearing completely from the Google
search index and no page-rank passed back to the newer pages.

In effect, by not doing any redirects from the old to new pages it seems to have confused Google as to which site has the original content or even which site is the manufacturer.

My name is Ron Cripps and I have been creating mobile responsive WordPress sites for clients on a regular basis for the last two years. I even convinced Gail the owner of this site Growmap that she needed to switch from Thesis and use a real mobile responsive site from Studiopress. As you can see that has actually happened.

In closing: At the end of the day when you are deciding on a website or updating an existing site, you need to know what is needed and not just take someone’s word for it or you to could end up paying a very big price – just like this site has done.

Gail, who is an avid supporter of small business, has been kind enough to allow me to write about this on her site in the hope that many of her readers can avoid mistakes such as these. If you are reading this and want to help this small business out then please visit Thintanks and even like or share the site on your favorite social media sites.

About Ron

Ron Cripps the owner of Affiliate X Files has been online since 2001 full time firstly starting his own online business selling e-books and video courses. Then over time realized the power of affiliate marketing. Follow Ron on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Mistakes in a web design can affect your growth very badly…I\’m glad that you\’ve mentioned it here so that newbies designers can fetch help from it!!
    Aranyak would love you to read ..Happy Friendship Day 2014 Cover Photos for FacebookMy Profile

  2. Hello Ron,
    Really enjoyed reading your post.. This is not only useful but also helpful for SEO freelancer. Keep writing informative and useful post like these one.


  3. Boca web designer says:

    Everyone takes a advice of others for doing anything and yes you are right a wrong advice can take a small business down quickly and thanks for sharing this useful information with us and every businessman must careful before taking any offer.
    Boca web designer would love you to read ..How to select a Website Designing Company in Boca Raton, Florida?My Profile

  4. Thanks For This Article Yes Every marketer Think First Then Take Advices From Others

  5. Thanks for the information, Ron! Business owners must be careful in taking advice from the others. Before you accept the offer make sure that you get any information from the other and compare it.

  6. Small businesses are rather vulnerable because they cannot afford to hire really good specialists who will control everything. The only option is for sure to install some monitoring software which acan examine everything what happens to the site. Fortunately there are too many solutions which are ready to do it e.g. Anturis, Nagios and others.

  7. Nice information Ron, yes small websites want to face many difficulty to get high rank and you said correct in your article.

    Nice information.

  8. Jeniffer Cooper says:

    Your story seems quite similar to mine. Due to one of my friend’s wrong suggestion all my websites were heavily penalized. I think this post is going to help millions of people from being aware of incorrect advice and provide information on how to bring organic traffic to their sites.

  9. Hi Ron
    great article i learn many things after ready your tips. its very helpful with me thanks for sharing.

  10. I personally have experienced some bad advices from friends who claimed to know all about websites. Somehow I recovered thank God :)

  11. Yes ! Ron, wrong advice can drop down the web traffic. Thank you for elaborating your ideas.

  12. Story seems similar to mine, I was also heavily penalized for my wrongdoings by Google.
    Now I have learnt from my mistakes.

  13. Use of free wordpress themes is not going to poorly affect your SEO if you believe in developing engaging.

  14. And, it is not always the big decisions that matter, small decisions play an equally important role when it comes to success.

  15. Hi Ron, I think taking the right decision at the right time has always been the key to success. And, it is not always the big decisions that matter, small decisions play an equally important role when it comes to success. Thanks for sharing the post.

  16. Ron,

    Good post and story dealing with the consequences of having duplicate content. One of my clients wanted to do the exact same thing with a group of other business owners located in other cities. Except they were blog posts. I explained to them the impact of the having duplicate content on sites and the penalities involved.

    Anyways, I want to point out the latest Thesis 2.1 has a responsive skin. I am pleased with the looks and had a designer make my header and footer responsive. Too bad I hadn’t found you earlier as I would have had you do this.


  17. This is such a informative article which explain the actual truth behind the website traffic. This article help people to aware of wrong advice and try to get organic web traffic to get success.

  18. Best advise is to start part time and move slowly and learn.

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  19. Peter Giannakis says:

    Ron I’d love the chance to speak if you could email me back. I’m currently running thesis wordpress theme for my bookkeeping site and i’d love to pick your brain on it.
    Great post, by the way.

  20. Funny how many people go against the advice from web marketing and seo consultants because they are sold from a fast talking salesperson on empty promises. I hope you were able to get the sites that you took over again back on track.

  21. Use of free wordpress themes is not going to poorly affect your SEO if you believe in developing engaging content for readers (thin/ duplicate content is a major concern). However, unrelated links at the footer section on such free themes might hurt SEO rankings, more importantly after penguin update.

  22. Waaoo Ron……….that was a marvelous experience you shared with us. So many people just fool their clients regarding the quality as they are unaware of its value. With the greed to make more money they turnout ugly for the innocent good people.

  23. hi Ron

    That’s an interesting lesson to learn

    I wonder if you have a site where we can check out more articles or tips from you, as your resource box sounds appealing to me, and hope to others…

  24. Well actually the MISTAKE we are always talking here is never done as being thought of a mistake ! we all are experiencing things and cant make things right untill we have tried alot and struggled alot . I think this is the same position for most of the Internet Marketers !

  25. Thanks Ron for sharing this information about websites and how to help them rank better. I have heard a lot of different opinions on regular mobile sites vs responsive and will look into that further.

  26. Hey thanks for the post. I am looking to change the domain of one of my blog which is affected from Google. I have heard that removing the bad content and pages from affected site and then changing the domain and making 301 redirection will work very well.

    What do you say about it? I am still very confused and nervous as my affected blog is still getting somehow 4k visits a day and I don’t want to exchange it for 1k or 500 visits. You reply would be appropriated…

    • Qasim, what makes you think your site has been effected considering you have so many visitors has that count reduced in number from previous months?

      • Well my blog was getting 10k daily but now it has reduced to only 4k. There were many keywords for which it was ranked at first page of Google, now it has gone to 3rd or 4th page :(

    • so you got succeeded getting traffic from so mentioned bad content right? 301 redirects could help you to increase the exposure of your good content. If you already removed the bad content I think there is no need to use new blog

    • you may be hit by panda update or penguin update. try to see which update hit you and recover your blog from it.

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