I have had multiple clients over the past few weeks ask me to take their site down — either temporarily or permanently. Now, for those who have asked my opinion, I have been happy to offer it: DON’T TAKE THE SITE DOWN! However, not everyone has asked … nor have I told them. I’m a believer in keeping my opinions to myself unless they are solicited.
That said, I’m going to use this blog post to explain why no author should ever take down his or her website. Like … ever.
1. It will hurt you badly with SEO. I had a client contact me recently, asking that I take his site down temporarily while he finalizes his second book and decides what to do with the site to accommodate that book. But here’s the problem … You see, his site launched several years ago. During that time period, it had climbed up the Google search results for his name and his book title. I always tell people: there’s nothing like time to help with SEO. The longer your site is alive and kicking the higher it will rank. And so, what do you think will happen when that site is taken down; even temporarily? Google will realize those links don’t work any more and will take the site off its search results completely. When it relaunches, the site would be starting all over again at the bottom of the results. That’s a mistake that can be very costly.
2. You will lose followers. Maybe you haven’t been getting a lot of traffic on your site and blog. Maybe you want to take it down just to regroup and think about what direction you want to go in with the site. Well, those “mere” 50 followers that you have will be lost — probably forever — if you take the site down completely. It’s much better to let it sit while you make a decision, rather than potentially lose /piss off people who like you.
3. The buzz is gone. We launched a new author website about two weeks ago. We spread the word about the new site via social media and such, and I assume the author did as well. But then, for no good reason, the author reached out to us yesterday and asked us to temporarily take the site down. She gave us no explanation why. It could be that the book wasn’t available for sale yet and she didn’t like the fact that it couldn’t be purchased through the buy the book link. It could be that some of the information on the site needed to be proofed/corrected. I have no idea. What I DO know is that any links that had been sent around driving people to the site, any social sharing, etc… was all wasted. People clicking on those links today will be taken to a “Page not found” message. And that is never a good thing. Instead, there are a multitude of other options, from creating a quick one-pager to hold the site’s place until it’s ready to re-launch to removing/changing a few items in no time.
4. There are always affordable options. I sometimes get lovely emails from long-time clients explaining that they can no longer afford to keep a site up and running, and nicely thanking us for our services. But here’s the thing: there are varying levels of author websites. What we offer clients is top-notch; with premium hosting, technical support, etc… However, there are free — yes, free — sites available through WordPress and such. Rather than lose everything that they have done up until now, authors in these situations should simply rebuild their site on a free (or cheap) platform. Sure, it won’t be as beautiful. But it’s better than nothing.
5. You could lose your domain name! A domain name is pretty darn cheap; usually about $15 per year. And if you give it up? Well, someone else could scoop up your domain name and then you may never be able to own it again. And that can be a problem if, five years from now, you decide you want to resurrect your author presence on the web. So if you own JamieFoster.com (for example), hold on to it for dear life. Otherwise, JamieFoster.com may soon be the site for a photographer or a wedding planner. That URL is worth a whole lot more than the small cost of a domain name.
In short, there are always options that are better for an author than taking the site down completely. Ask me what I think … and I’ll be happy to provide you with a better option.