sly : marketing

Is it Time to Bury Your Website?

kill website

Owning a website can feel like being a proud parent. Chances are you’ve poured endless hours into writing for it, you probably talk about it all the time to anyone who will listen, and no doubt you worked hard to come up with a design that appealed to you and that you would like. In fact the only difference between a webmaster and a parent is that the former don’t tend to upload hundreds of pictures of their websites to Facebook to clog up everyone else’s home feeds…

But the point is that many of us are close to our websites, and in many cases even perhaps a little bit too close to see them for what they are. I know this to be true for my own website which is something of a vanity project and which a lot of people don’t ‘get’. The niche is obscure, and the design is what can only be described as a ‘retro vision of the future’ (not my words) – hardly up-to-date and yet I continue to stick to the same design and the same niche why? Because I love it unconditionally just the way it is.

The good news is that that site is a labour of love and I don’t need it to rake in cash (though of course that would be nice). In this case I can afford to fun the site the way I want to because it’s not my main source of income – but for someone who only has one website and who perhaps wants to make a living from that site it is important to step back and be somewhat more impartial when making decisions. And the hardest decision to make of all? Euthanasia.

Why It May be Time to Say Goodbye

You might be wondering why on Earth you would ever need to destroy a website that you worked so hard to build, but sometimes this is in fact the most sensible option. Take a website for instance that has a lot of spun content on it, that has too many Google ads on it, and that has been penalized for both these things. Perhaps the design is dated and since creating it you’ve learned a huge amount about what makes a good website and about how to operate such a business. Maybe you have some bad links pointing at your site that you thought were a good idea before the Google Penguin update. In this situation you have two options – try to save a sinking ship by replacing all the content and fixing all your offending adverts, hoping that you’ll get re-indexed, or to simply start again afresh in which case you’ll probably save yourself a lot of time and end up with a much better end product.

In this situation your emotional side might be telling you not to give up on the site you’ve worked so hard for, and at the same time you might even trick yourself into believing that it’s the logical thing to do to avoid wasting that content and hard work. In reality though, if you’re objective then starting from neutral is always better than starting from a disadvantage and you may even find that you enjoy the thrill of creation again.

Why It’s Not a Waste

But don’t worry – your site will live on in the lessons you learned, in the images you created and in the very fabric that goes into your new creation. A metaphor that is certainly no longer applicable to children…

In other words, there are plenty of ways you can make the most of your old site in creating your new one – not just in terms of putting your new experience to good use, but also in terms of re-using some old elements.

Of course content can’t be re-used because Google will have indexed that content already and will view it as duplicate if you include it in a new site. On the other hand though, something like a photograph or a graphic is completely safe to re-use (though you can always change the dimensions/contrast slightly to be on the safe side) and the same goes for things like website templates or snippets of JavaScript.

And actually you can still get further use from your content too – just not directly on your pages. For instance if you are writing in the same niche, then you can always just compile those old posts and articles and use them to create an eBook that can then help you to monetize your site more effectively. And of course if you re-write some of those old articles you’ll find you write them quicker this time around, and they’re probably actually even better due to the extra knowledge you’ll be bringing with you.

So basically, making the difficult decision to kill off your website may just be the best thing you can do for your success online…

This was a guest post by Ben Austin. Ben is the managing director of SEO Positive Limited, an innovative search engine optimization company based in UK.



20 responses to “Is it Time to Bury Your Website?”

  1. Lisa says:

    Ben, interesting piece. I’ve often thought of that one a few retail websites I manage. Right after I thought about it orders flowed in. When it slows down I keep on wondering. If I had a new product to sell online I may really consider it again in the near future. Any website I have built is like a baby. Much more time consuming than I ever thought it would be. And each time you build a new site, you are much wiser.

    • Ben Austin says:

      @Lisa: Thanks for taking the time out for commenting on my post. I can totally relate to your sentiments here. I am glad you didn’t have to close some of your sites, but I am sure a lot of “successful” internet marketers are still supporting some sites that are only a ‘small’ drain financially but they are emotionally attached to the sites.
      Yeah, every time you develop a new site from scratch web design and development methods have changed, you are a better write and there is another social network that you need to incorporate 🙂

    • Hi Lisa,

      I don’t remember how many websites I have buried, but it’s been many during the years. I am sure that I have stopped working on many of the websites too soon, and just killed them because I got tired or just didn’t think see any future for the site. I haven’t treated my websites like a baby, and that’s probably why I have stopped working on them as well.

  2. Carolyn says:

    Hi Ben, Welcome to Jens’ place. I would be crushed if my website were killed. I just heard from a reader this week how much my site helped him and his wife which meant so much to me.

    But I have heard of people having to kill their sites because of evil hackers infecting their sites with malware from which they couldn’t recover. I really hope that never happens to me.

    • I am sure your website will never be buried. Wonder of Tech is fantastic. I have created way too many websites during the years, and I understand why I need to kill some of them. But, the two websites I currently own, they’re going to be alive forever.

  3. Jonathon says:

    I have had to kill many websites in the past 6 years. Some were bad ideas from the start, some were great ideas that never went anywhere and others were sites that required far too much time for a payoff. The ones that hurt the most to take down, were the ones that I had a personal passion in. I mourned for a day or two and moved on to the next idea.

    • That’s like me. I have killed many websites, and today I actually discovered that I had forgot to delete some of the old domains. I still own them even though I have killed the websites several years ago 🙂

      I need to be passionate about what I’m doing, if I get a bit tired, I usually end up killing the project.

  4. Tim Bonner says:

    Hi Ben

    Great to see you at Jens’ blog.

    I’ve only had my blog since May last year and I would hate to bury it. I see so many dead blogs out there littering the blogosphere. I would rather that someone tried to re-establish their blog rather than trash it.

    • I really hope you won’t have to bury your blog Tim. I have killed many of my sites, and it’s mostly because I didn’t plan the projects good enough. I just got an idea, bought a domain and created a site. A few weeks/months later, I discovered that the idea wasn’t that good to begin with 🙂

  5. Declan says:

    I let 4 of my websites just pass away over the last 8 – 12 months and have no regrets at all. Sometimes it’s just right to let them go and move on. I agree with what Jens said about not planning enough. If there’s no plan for a website, chances are we’ll find it difficult to consistently update the site – and eventually all motivation to any work at all slowly creeps in.

    I’m a one website kinda guy these days (except for sales & landing pages) and I find it a joy to work on that website.

    Cool post, Ben.

  6. Joe Hart says:

    I would really consider, selling the site before burying it..Maybe someone out there will be interested in purchasing the site as it already has a lot of backlinks and PR…If my site ever gets penalized heavily by Google and there is no hope for a reconciliation, then i would decide to bury it.

  7. Adrienne says:

    Hey Ben,

    Welcome to Jens place and as I was reading this I was thinking to myself wow Jens, what have you been doing. Then I realized it was a guest post.

    I’ve had a few of these sites. The way we were taught to build them a few years back they don’t work the same today so I’ve said goodbye to a few of mine. Okay, I just don’t update them anymore and I’m surprised to still make money from them occasionally but I’ve moved on to other things now.

    It’s hard though at first but as you said, a lesson learned. We can continue to take those lessons and build bigger and better sites that we can pray will last forever.

    ~Adrienne

    • Hey Adrienne,

      I don’t know how many sites I have buried during the years, but it’s been many. It’s probably because when I get an idea, I just can’t seem to wait to test the idea and start working on it. So, in just a few minutes after I come up with the idea, I have bought the domain and start working on the website 🙂

  8. Naser says:

    Hi Ben,

    Same problem with me. When my site turns an year old, I sell it to gather funds for my studies or for a project. I even save some money to start a new website as I feel creating new website from scratch is lot better than buying some others website.

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