GoDaddy Hosting Failure & an SEOmoz Link

by Travis Ketchum · 11 comments

Wonder what it’s like to simultaneously get linked to by an industry heavyweight and have your host suddenly redirect your nameservers?

Let me save you the trouble, it’s a really painful experience.

If you came to our site yesterday and saw a parked GoDaddy domain then you are probably already catching on to the fact that this is exactly what happened to me yesterday.

It’s also safe to say that I wasn’t a happy camper, but we scrambled to move the site elsewhere and within a few hours now sit on a much better host.

This move should have happened a long time ago so I want to help save you from the same pain and agony I just went through.

#1 Rule: Never Host with GoDaddy

I’ve been using GoDaddy for their domain services since my first time doing anything online.

The experience hasn’t ever really been horrendous like yesterday, but it hadn’t been stellar either. I still use them to manage my domains, but I’m looking at changing to Namecheap for that too given the “fair weather” support they’ve given SOPA/PIPA.

Hosting however has been a whole different ball of wax, and nothing but problems. From shoddy load times, to a clunky interface and things just randomly breaking, I had been eyeing moving for a while now anyway.

What happened

When The College Startup was on GoDaddy, I had been using a CDN and security service called CloudFlare which improves the security of the site and helps it load faster for you (woohoo!).

However, recently there was an issue using FTP to get in touch with the backend of the site. When I talked with a GoDaddy customer service representative they were convinced that I wasn’t hosting my site at GoDaddy and that I was “hosted” with CloudFlare.

Sound the alarms, because even though I kept telling them that we were indeed hosted with GoDaddy and that changes made with our hosting account were reflected on the site. The representative continued to refuse to believe me and felt the need to “correct” the DNS information for the domain.

In essence they turned the site into a ticking time bomb, because as this “correction” propagated it’s way around the web incoming traffic started to see a “this page is parked courtesy of”.


To make matters worse, I couldn’t seem to roll back the changes in a way that was showing up. This also meant I didn’t have the standard admin access to my WordPress account and all of my data was in limbo. So here I was, no admin access and dead in the water when I was having an amazing traffic day that morning, getting more new visitors and opt-ins than ever before.

Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz Links to TCS

As my site was melting down thanks to a click happy rep over at GoDaddy, I knew something else was up. My traffic was spiking and conversions were pilling up (that is, until they came to a screeching halt).

Rand Fishkin Shares on Google+

Rand Fishkin Shares on Google+

It may not be obvious from the number of +1’s and comments on that status, but his social links bring some heat.

Not only was my Linkedin Ads article getting eyeballs, his traffic was crushing the real metric that bloggers like me care about, opt-ins.

While we missed a good portion of his traffic, I was seeing a threefold increase in opt-ins from the traffic coming from his direction. The interesting part? Only a fraction of them were happening on the actual article page, others were coming from the about and smarter marketing pages.

Simply put, his audience was completely engaged and wanted more. Perfect.

It’s important to understand that not all traffic is created equal, so it’s worth your time to go after the highly congruent sources of traffic instead of the vanity numbers.

How we fixed it

For my cause fundraising platform, MyBigGive, I’ve been using a very cleanly designed host called Eleven2 and have been pretty happy with the service at a more than reasonable price.

They offer cloud computing, dedicated servers and some still zippy shared packages as well.

I hit them up after I bought a three year package for the blog that I wanted to be able to give anyone interested in following suit a discount for their patience and hopefully let them make the migration on their own terms unlike my.

They graciously hooked TCS readers up with a 30% discount on any of their packages. Simply go through this link and then use the coupon code “startup” at checkout to cash in on your savings.

We were able to migrate the data with as minimal pain as possible but shoving the files onto Eleven2 via FTP and then giving the database some love, thanks in part to my friend Matt Mastracci

I urge you to take a serious look at where you are hosting your website and pick something that really fits what you need before you are cornered and have to scramble to keep your doors open.

About Travis Ketchum
A smart ass marketer who doesn't take no for an answer and always questions the status quo. Connect with me on Google+. Convinced yet? Get more tips and great content 100% free.

Follow me on Twitter · Visit my website →

Building a sustainable business is all about how well you can gather and maintain an audience. An email list is still one of the most viable ways to do just that.

We wanted to find a way to build an email incredibly fast, in a way that people actually find interesting, engaging and well - cool. It took a lot of testing to weed-whack through all the hype and find something that really worked.

The result? We ended up building our own solution, focused around the idea of contests and rewarding people for taking the actions that ultimately led to more leads on our email list. Everyone wins (and some literally do!), because as it turns out people love contests regardless of their market place.

Click to continue…

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Swanson February 12, 2012 at 8:18 PM

Ouch! Sorry to hear about this. Glad you were able to work it out so quickly. FYI, I’ve been hosting with forever (more than 10 years) and really like them – great customer service and WordPress-site hosting.


Travis Ketchum February 13, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Yeah, I’m glad we got it figured out quickly as well. I’ve been happy with the move to Eleven2 so far but I’m sure there are plenty of good hosts out there.


Harlan Yee February 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM

Hey Travis, remember me from the Dot Com Pho meetups last summer? Your article has me reconsidering hosting my sites at GoDaddy. This morning, I couldn’t log into any of my sites. Just got the message that Internet Explorer couldn’t display the page after about a minute of loading. I even have 2 hosting accounts with them and sites on both accounts weren’t loading.

I’ve seen this happen several times but usually resolves itself at some point but it shouldn’t be happening at all! I’m thinking of moving my sites from GoDaddy to my Bluehost account. What method do you use to transfer your sites? I know your sites are probably more complicated than mine but do you have an simple method to transfer Wordpress sites?

Also, I’m having a problem with a site that sells a Clickbank product. I’m using Profits Theme but on the last sale, my site didn’t send the customer his login credentials so I had to set him up manually to keep the sale. I had this problem before and thought it was resolved. Not sure if GoDaddy has anything to do with it.

I’ll have to check out Eleven2 for future hosting needs. Sounds like business is going well for you!


Travis Ketchum February 15, 2012 at 3:32 PM

The easiest way is doing a WordPress export from your existing site and then an import on the new site. Inevitably nothing will go without a hitch, but that should get you most of the way there.

Bluehost is decent, I’ve used them before. However, I’m loving for my new projects.

Regarding the site not sending them the login information, I had a similar pain when using the Good Karma software from Shoemoney on a GoDaddy database.. and it came to just be that their stuff is sooooo slowwwwww.

Move asap and get the pain over now, you’ll be thankful in the end. I definitely remember you from Pho, you still up for lunch sometime even though John lives in California now?


Harlan Yee February 16, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Yeah, I’d still be up for lunch sometime. I know you guys have met up a few times without John. My Saturday’s are busy with hockey right now but I think in April, I’ll have more time on the weekends. I’m also good if you do lunch on the weekdays. It’s actually easier for me on weekdays and downtown is easy since I’m right across the street from the Space Needle.

All my new niche sites are going on Bluehost now. I only have a handful of sites at GoDaddy but those are my biggest sites. I’ll start with moving the one with the membership problem first.


Travis Ketchum February 16, 2012 at 2:41 PM

I’ll shoot you an email, if you are ever around U Village and want to grab a coffee or something that would be easy as well.


Jonny Rowntree February 18, 2012 at 9:19 AM

Hi Travis,

I shifted away from GoDaddy about a year ago to go to NameCheap and I haven’t looked back since. I too had my domains and hosting with GoDaddy at one point but they were as controlling as ever – they even unhooked my backup system that transferred my data to Dropbox using a plugin and advised I should by some “industry standard” bull from them.

I politely refused and I’m now with Namecheap & hosting from Media Temple. I would advise you looking at a backup solution if anything else goes wrong down the line.



Travis Ketchum February 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM

I’ve heard good things about MediaTemple, but I’ve been pleased with my relationship with Eleven2.

How inexpensive is the privacy setting with Namecheap?


Mann June 24, 2012 at 12:36 AM

Hey guys…

I have heard nothing but nightmare stories about GoDaddy hosting for years. For a long, long time they offered little more than what I call “Mickey Mouse” hosting (I hope that doesn’t get you in trouble with Disney, Travis, hehe): low quality crap hosting for people looking for quick solutions. In other words, for people who don’t know any better. I know they came up with more capable hosting solutions in recent years (theoretically speaking, of course), but I never tried them.

However, I have to say this (and I should probably be keeping this “a secret”): their dedicated Wordpress hosting flat-out rocks. I’ve been testing it for several months now, and I’m seriously considering moving ALL of my WP hosting to their system.

I know, I know — heresy!

In my experience so far, GoDaddy WP hosting (they’re using a cloud system), is reliable and remarkably fast. Seriously.

The interface was different from C-Panel or anything else I’ve used, so it took some adjustment. But beyond that, it’s been really good. And I love the fact that I can register a domain and be up and running in a matter of hours, all from one place. How cool is that?

So, maybe the Wordpress division is different from the mainline hosting. And maybe I’ve just gotten lucky (though if it were a matter of luck only, it should have gone massively south by now). But I really think GoDaddy WP hosting is pretty darn good so far! And compared to what I’m paying with some other well-known and (in)famous hosting companies — and what dedicated WP hosting companies charge — this is a freakin’ steal!

If i get to the point where I’ve got any of these smaller sites really rockin’ the big traffic, maybe the story will change. I dunno. But so far, so good. πŸ˜€




Travis Ketchum June 25, 2012 at 10:22 AM

It’s good to hear that GoDaddy is at least working on something better. I’ve also heard good things about WPengine and other dedicated WP solutions. WPengine even keeps the entire database in RAM to make it quick.

It’s worth trying a few different hosts to find the winner, but sadly everyone says they are the best hosting until they aren’t for you specifically.


Mann June 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM

@ Travis

Yes, you are right: your hosting is great until it’s not great! I have no idea how it will shake out, but all I can say is, the GoDaddy Wordpress hosting has been good so far. πŸ™‚

I actually almost went with WPEngine when I found the GoDaddy hosting. I figured I’d give the latter a try with some new mini-sites, rather than going with the former. Why? Well, the difference in cost was staggering. WPEngine may well be the Rolls Royce of WP hosting, but you’re going to pay Rolls Royce prices, too.

So far, my decision is holding up, and I’m spending a lot less money every month. Would I get concierge-level service with WPEngine? Supposedly, yes. That’s part of what the cost is. But, as I said, so far, so good. Concierge not needed.



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