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If I redesign my website, will I lose my SE ranking?

Discussion in 'Search Engine Optimization' started by ASM Design, Apr 4, 2009.

  1. #1
    Hi all,
    SEMrush
    I'm planning to update one of my sites over the summer with a new redesign that will make it look more professional and will integrate with a blog installation. However, right now I am very happy with my SEO - I rank in the top 5 for some very targeted keywords and I earn a nice income from that SE traffic.

    What I want to know is if a new tableless design would affect my SE rankings to any great extent, if the content is the same?

    Thanks,
    Alex
     
    ASM Design, Apr 4, 2009 IP
    SEMrush
  2. Laceygirl

    Laceygirl Notable Member

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    #2
    This is where you need to be careful. I recommend trying to hold on to the content(words) on your front page and somehow change the design without losing the paragraphs or whatever you got written in there.

    A re-design can mess with your SE ranking, but usually for the better, Although I did a the same thing and did pay a little bit of a price on my rankings for it. It was not too bad though.
     
    Laceygirl, Apr 4, 2009 IP
  3. Stella_Roberts

    Stella_Roberts Peon

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    #3
    Well, while re-designing a website the chances of getting your PR affected or drop down sharply increases. If you are not much careful about including the content of your site that has good PR or you have improperly redirected then it would be a big loss for your site's PR. Make sure that loss of rankings can be extremely difficult to get back.

    When it comes to redesigning a website, you really have to be careful with how it might affect your SEO strategy. If certain pages are ranking really well for their keywords, do your best to disrupt them as little as possible. It’d be a real shame to lose all the progress you’ve made in the search engines because of some oversights in your redesign.

    However if you are redesigning with the same content, same navigation structure and use the same on page optimization factors then IMO it won't affect the PR much.
     
    Stella_Roberts, Apr 4, 2009 IP
  4. dream_sonu

    dream_sonu Well-Known Member

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    #4
    don't change your content can give u some some problem
     
    dream_sonu, Apr 4, 2009 IP
  5. magda

    magda Notable Member

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    #5
    The big thing you need to pay attention to is the name of the urls - if these change at all you need to use a permanent redirect from the old pages to the new. Other than than, pay attention to page titles, headers, and how you are changing those classic onpage seo factors.
     
    magda, Apr 4, 2009 IP
  6. ASM Design

    ASM Design Peon

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    #6
    Thanks for all the advice, its looking like I might decide to keep the design as it is and maybe just add a blog and have it coded to fit in with my existing design as I think this will be the best option for increasing my SEO base without losing what's worked for me so far.
     
    ASM Design, Apr 4, 2009 IP
  7. misel

    misel Member

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    #7
    What about if you create a whole new website on a subdomain to the old one, and redirect all the pages from the old site to the new one?!

    Anyone knows if he then will keep his pr value?
     
    misel, Apr 4, 2009 IP
  8. ScottyGil

    ScottyGil Guest

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    #8
    I redesign my entire website every quarter. Each time my SE traffic increases. Here's some important precautions that I keep in mind for search engine friendly redesigns for myself and my clients:

    1. Use the same file name for each page and keep each page in the same location on your server.

    2. Use spider-friendly permanent redirects for any pages you choose to move.

    3. Update your XML sitemap with new URLs and resubmit your new sitemap to Google with Web Master Tools.

    4. Table-less design is BETTER!!! Just keep your content the same and do a few keyword density checks to make sure the content of your new pages matches your old ones.

    This is what works for me so I thought I'd share. Good luck.
     
    ScottyGil, Apr 4, 2009 IP
  9. Canonical

    Canonical Well-Known Member

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    #9
    I just spent a year redesigning a PR7 site with thousands of pages and converting it over to a CMS... Every URL changed (we went from .asp/.aspx to extensionless URL due to the CMS)... Every page's content changed... every <title>, <h1>, <h2> changed for every page... every page's content change. And within a 6 weeks we were doing better than before...

    Taking on such an endeavor is scary to say the least... but if well thought out and executed, it can be made much less painful.

    Things to consider:

    1) Crawl your site w/ Xenu or some crawler to get a list of every URL on your site. You will need this for several tasks.

    2) If you change URLs in any way, ALWAYS 301 redirect the old URL to a new URL whose content most closely matches the content of the old URL. This will give the new URL credit for the old URL's inbound links and the link text for the old URL's inbound links will still apply to the new URL since their content should be very similar.

    3) Use the URL list from #1 to look at your web analytics or server logs. Look at the traffic you are getting from search engines. Determine which pages you are getting organic traffic to and which search phrases people are using to find those pages. This will give you great insight into which phrases your pages are already ranking for so you can be sure that <title>, <h1>, etc. on the new page includes those phrases. You don't want to change the topic of pages that are already ranking... you want to strengthen the <title>, <h1>, content to make that page rank even better for those phrases and similar variations of those phrases.

    4) If you are using query string parameters to pass tracking codes around your site, figure out a way to get rid of them. Query strings are the death nail of SEO. We used them to track where paid traffic came from and which type of paid search channel it was (Google Adwords, Yahoo display ads, etc.) This created canonical issues.

    If you need tracking codes for this, when your server sees a page request for a URL with a tracking code in the query string then set a session cookie with the tracking code... strip it out of the query string... and 301 redirect to the clean URL. Then on conversion if you need to log where the traffic came from, get it from the cookie instead of the URL. Yes, a tiny percentage of users will have cookies turned off (I'm guessing less than 1%)... Even if 2-3% have cookies turned off, who cares... A 97-98% sample size is FAR more than you need to determine which advertising channels convert the best.

    5) Put a lot of time and thought into selecting <title> element values. Use the data from your web analytics or server logs (#3 above) to determine which keywords you target for each URL. Limit to 1-3 keyword phrases and they should be very similar if you have multiple phrases in the <title>. ALWAYS put the most important keyword phrase 1st in the <title>and, if applicable, followed by the 2nd most important then the 3rd.

    <title>s like "Real Estate - Buying a Home - Home Improvement" suck IMO. In this case, there should be 3 separate pages that each target a different one of those topics. "Buy a Home - Buying a Home - How to Buy a Home" is a much better <title>. The 3 keyword phrases are very similar and about the same topic.

    DON'T put your website name in your <title>. This is one of the biggest mistakes webmasters make... I think it's their vanity that gets the best of them. They like to see their website name in lights... err... the <title> element. It only serves to dilite the keyword density within the <title> element and makes it harder to rank for the 'real' keyword phrases in the <title>. It's not likely that someone will be searching for "myrealestatesite.com buy a home". It's more likely they will search for "buy a home". But even if they do search for "myrealestatesite.com buy a home" or "myrealestatesite buy a home", the fact that your domain name exactly matches "myrealestatesite.com" or "myrealestatesite" should be enough... you don't need it in the <title>.

    6) Make sure EVERY page has an <h1> and that it targets one or more of the keyword phrases from your <title> (preferably at least the most important phrase).

    7) Where possible use <h2> elements to target the lesser important keyword phrases from the <title> or slight variations of those phrases.

    8) Take the time to set <meta> descriptions for every page. Limit them to 150 characters and make try to work every keyword from the <title> into the description. If all of the keywords from the search phrase appear in the <meta> description Google will typically show your description instead of constructing one (unless the URL has a DMOZ entry in which case they will use the DMOZ description). Start them with an action word like "Learn about", "Find out about", "Buy", etc. You want to use this to market the page and entice searches to click on your organic link.

    9) Set the <meta> keywords for all pages. Only use 5-10 keyword phrases... only use words that appear on the page. Yes, Google and other engines ignore them, but some lesser sophisticated engines still use them in their ranking algorithms.

    10) Create verticles within your site about single topics or categories. The main category or vertical page for a verticle should target the head term(s) for that vertical. The deeper you click into that category, the longer tail the targeted keyword phrases should be.

    Try to have the content of your pages MOSTLY link to the pages above and below it in its vertical. This helps with relevancy. The page above should be about the same topic, just more general. The pages below should be about the same topic, just more specific or long tail. If you do this you maximize the flow of relvancy around your site.

    11) Use BREADCRUMBS on your pages... They help to enforce the 'vertical' structure described in the previous bullet. AND they give you one more place where you get to specify targeted link text for the pages in the breadcrumb.

    12) Give a great amount of thought to the link text you use for interlinking your pages... Link text in a hyperlink gives Google a strong hint as to what the target page is about. NEVER EVER EVER use "Click here" or "Here" or "Get Started" as link text. What good does it do to tell Google that the page you are linking to is about "Click Here"... worthless.

    If Page A links to Page B then the link text used in the hyperlink on Page A should be a keyword phrase (or slight variation) from Page B's <title>. This will help Page B rank for its targeted phrases.

    If Page B has 3 keyword phrases like "Buy a Home - Buying a Home - How to Buy a Home" then MOST of the time I would use "Buy a Home" but sometimes use "Buying a Home" or "How to Buy a Home".

    If you have multiple links on Page A to Page B then always vary your link text in those hyperlinks. For example, if Page A links to Page B in the header, in the body, AND in the footer of Page A then use "Buy a Home" for the header link, "Buying a Home" for the link in the body of the page, and "How to Buy a Home" in the footer... It's much more effective than having 3 links on Page A all using "Buy a Home".

    13) Use keyword rich URLs... NOT spammy URLs but keyword rich. Don't use numbers like a lot of CMS packages render. Use how-to-buy-a-home.html instead of 1322818.html. Also use hyphen (-) as word separators instead of underscore (how_to_buy_a_home.html) or cramming the words together (howtobuyahome.html).

    14) If your site has a slow season then your redesigned site should go live during this time. In other words, if Christmas is when you get most of your traffic and most of your sales then do NOT implement the redesign anywhere near this time of the year.

    15) Test... Test... Test... ESPECIALLY your 301 redirects.

    After your new design is live, expect to take a hit on organic search because you have to wait on the search engines to absorb all of your changes... especially if you change URLs. If you had to implement 301 redirects, you have to wait on the engines to recrawl every link that pointed to the old URL and discover the 301s for each inbound link before the new URL will be given credit for that link. This can take a couple of months before things settle down and your rankings return.

    Monitor 404 errors on your site to look for problems. Hopefully you have a Google Webmaster Tools account and a verified site. This is very useful for monitoring potential problems.
     
    Canonical, Apr 4, 2009 IP
    ASM Design likes this.
  10. ASM Design

    ASM Design Peon

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    #10
    Wow, so much useful information to take in! Thankyou for your advice, its definitely helping my get closer to my decision.

    I will be looking in to programmer prices to see how much someone could follow all that information for me for - as I don't have the skill to be confident enough to follow that through, or the time to invest in learning. This thread is bookmarked for future reference :) and +1 rep for you canonical!
     
    ASM Design, Apr 7, 2009 IP
  11. Canonical

    Canonical Well-Known Member

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    #11
    Thanks... Hope it helps.
     
    Canonical, Apr 7, 2009 IP
  12. teamnirvana

    teamnirvana Active Member

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    #12
    Canonical, thats a huge bunch of tips there.

    Thanks for letting us know the best procedures followed.

    Didnt get the time to go thru one by one, but will surely get to know them in detail.
     
    teamnirvana, Apr 7, 2009 IP
  13. lindamood1

    lindamood1 Active Member

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    #13
    if u put seo tags as it is then redesign not give any prob in ranking
     
    lindamood1, Apr 7, 2009 IP
  14. dlmania

    dlmania Peon

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    #14
    Thanks, Canonical.. that's a whole lot of info in there. I am planning to redesign my website too, so all of this really helps! :)
     
    dlmania, Apr 8, 2009 IP
  15. swanbros

    swanbros Peon

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    #15
    good on you, canonical!!! it helps a lot.
     
    swanbros, Apr 8, 2009 IP
  16. bollinger1985

    bollinger1985 Peon

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    #16
    according to my experience, changing the design of a website does change the SE ranking
     
    bollinger1985, Apr 8, 2009 IP
  17. mystyleportal

    mystyleportal Peon

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    #17
    I've redesigned 3 websites in the last year and for all of them I monitored the ranking of the top 10 keywords closely before and after. I can vouch that if you take care of your redirects and url, it does not affect your SE or PR ranking.
     
    mystyleportal, May 8, 2009 IP
  18. roverfind

    roverfind Peon

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    #18
    roverfind, May 8, 2009 IP
  19. jtrzpis

    jtrzpis Peon

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    #19
    I agree that as long as you don't change the name of your url and locations then you're safe. I do professional redesigns on a regular basis so I tell from experience.
     
    jtrzpis, May 15, 2009 IP
  20. budget

    budget Peon

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    #20
    Keep contents the same , it would not effects much, also the linbound and internal links should be same
     
    budget, May 15, 2009 IP