Glow sticks and SEO…I promise there is a connection.  As a writer I often find inspiration in day to day life and this is no exception.

Glow Sticks & SEO

A few months ago I had checked into an airport hotel for a night of relaxation before an early morning flight.  Visions of a quiet evening in mind were interrupted by a crazy wind storm in Los Angeles that blew up out of nowhere.  So picture this, I am running through the parking lot, darting flying palm fronds.  After I narrowly escaped death by palm frond (those things are vicious when they come flying down with you locked in as their target) I did make it safely into the hotel…just in time for the power to go out.  Waiting to check in when the computers are down and 10 people are in front of me, I knew it wasn’t going to be the relaxing night I had hoped for.

The alarm went off (warning: apparently power outages cause security warnings in hotels, they warned us to prepare to evacuate and mentioned a security breach – not all that comforting).  After a few minutes a few little security lights lit up but basically we were all standing in the dark. Some of us amused by the drama and others not so much.

That’s when I noticed the nice lady walking around with a box, handing something out.  Anxious to see what goody I was going to get I stepped a little closer to her.  To my surprise, it was glow sticks she was handing out!  Glow sticks!  Awesome!

A little bit of confusion ensued, as not everyone knows you need to crack and shake the stick to activate the glow.  Thanks to my nieces and nephew and many nights playing with glow sticks at the cottage I was prepared and quickly cracked and shook mine into a nice little glow that I promptly started to twirl through the air (yep the nieces and nephew taught me well and would be proud).

And that’s when it hit me “This is their contingency plan? Glow sticks? Really?”  They are fun and they make a great story but they don’t really give off any measurable or quality light.

And then of course since I had been away from my computer for a few hours at this point, I was in work-withdrawal and instantly my mind starting churning.  I started thinking about all the things we prepare for:  earthquake kits for the “big one” and life insurance policies to protect our loved ones, bug spray and sunscreen when we head out for a road trip.  We prepare for the big and the small things in life.

But what about our business?  What about our websites?  Where is the contingency plan for that?  What preparation do we have in place if things go wrong?  

Just like we assume the lights will work in a hotel, we assume our site will do what it’s supposed to (sell products/generate leads/generate add revenue etc).

So what should the hotel have done?  I really don’t know but since I’m not a hotel manager, I don’t really need to know.

But now that my eyes have been opened, I realized I need a contingency plan for my site and you need a contingency plan for your site.

Fast forward an hour or two and I’m at a new hotel a few miles away that has power and I’ve got my laptop fired up – I can always relax on the plane the next day!

I wanted to capture some thoughts and create a contingency plan and now I want to share that plan with you.  Especially after you were kind enough to read my whole story to get to this much alluded to content.

So, let’s assume all is going well – your keywords are ranking, your site is getting traffic and the traffic is buying.  All very good things and you are happy.

But what happens if one day something breaks?

Do you know what to check to find the error?  Do you know how to fix what you find?

(Do you have an SEO company working for you?  Ask them if they have a contingency plan also!)

While glow sticks are fun, I would never want you to rely on them for light.  While I hope your systems for generating leads/sales don’t break, I want you to have a solution if they do.

If you are in desperation mode, you don’t have time to second guess your action plan.  You need a checklist you can work from so you can act quickly and efficiently.

Let’s take a look at my contingency plan – starting with the proper set up:

To ensure that you can act accordingly when there is a problem, you need to start by making sure you have access to some important data.

  • Install Google Analytics or some other analytics/stats program.
  • Set up Google and Bing webmaster tools.
  • Take a baseline report to see what things look like now and file it away for future use.

Now do a quick check-up to ensure there is nothing broken now:

  • Check your site for broken links and fix any that you find.
  • Test your shopping cart.

Now you have a good working foundation and baseline of data to pull from if needed.

In the unfortunate event that you do encounter a problem – whether it’s a decrease in traffic, or sales or rankings, you need to have a quick action plan in place to find out why.

The bottom line is when something goes wrong most people panic and lose valuable time.  If you have a contingency plan or at least a starting point, you can get to work on solving the problem quicker and with minimal impact.  Review this action plan as your starting point and add anything you think I’ve missed.  It’s important to have an action plan that is specific to your site and business.

Guest post by Jennifer Horowitz

Jennifer Horowitz Director of Marketing at Ecombuffet. com handles in house marketing, as well as consulting with clients and overseeing all client campaigns. Follow her on Twitter @Ecombuffet