OMS Case Study
Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis is a charity that aims to educate people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) with regards to science-based dietary strategies that can help and at times completely alleviate their symptoms and disease progression. This is a small charity that started in Australia and now has its headquarters in the UK.
Upon the launch of a new website after a troubled development period, the site lost 90% of organic traffic from search engines. Bowler Hat was called in to help diagnose the problem and help restore the organic traffic to previous levels.
This was a highly challenging project as we had to reverse engineer the issues. The site had a forum with hundreds of thousands of pages that needed to be physically altered, and there was also a rebrand and change of domain name.
- Rebrand, change in domain name, and change of website created lots of variables
- No dialogue with original developer so no information on the history before this rebrand
- This was the second major rebrand after a change many years earlier from Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis
- Historical access to analytics was limited to a couple of years
- Technical and SEO issues with the way the new site had been designed
We first had to examine the history of the brand and the website. We identified that the site was now in its fourth iteration and its third name change. With a new site being developed, it was possible that essential redirections and pointing of historical domain names had been lost, so we had to query all previous versions of the domain and all inbound links.
We also had to analyse the old structure of the site against the new one – this is typically an easy job, but we had no access to the previous structure of the site.
We also conducted a strategic SEO audit based on our own audit process developed over 15 years. We looked at accessibility of the site, how it was crawled, how the new site was indexed, on-page optimisation, historical versions of the site, links, authority, and competitive marketplace, and worked with the developer to re-architect elements of the site to improve the optimisation.
We had to put everything together over the entire 15-year history of the site by exploring what we could in the web archive to understand the historical structure of the site. We also, unfortunately, identified that it had been decided not to renew some of the earliest domain names, takingcontrolofmultiplesclerosis.org, which meant a considerable loss of equity with no real way to resolve this issue, as the domain had been bought up by a domain prospector who wanted an unreasonable figure for the return.
To resolve the issue, we had to carefully reinstate all the historical redirections for the previous versions of the site and domain names, and ensure that all external links pointed to the relevant internal page. We also had to completely re-optimise how the site was crawled, internal navigation, and on-page optimisation.
Now, 12 months later, the traffic is 90% of what it once was, but it has been a slow recovery due to the severity of the problems created, and largely in part to the bad advice from the web developer regarding not renewing the original domain name.
Launching a new website should be an opportunity to improve organic search visibility, but this requires a careful consideration of the traffic, content, and history of the site, as errors here can cause considerable and long-lasting damage.