Website Revamp

I Am Revamping My Website – Could It Have A Negative Impact on Search Rankings?

If you’re revamping your brand’s website – or even just considering it – some changes (although not all) may have significant implications for the way the major search engines rank you. John Mueller,  Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, discussed this in a recent After-Hours Webmaster Hangout.

Search performance following a site revamp

Someone in the session said their last three site revamps had led to adverse ranking changes when it came to Google search and that this had not happened previously. (Admittedly they didn’t clarify whether their ‘revamp’ meant a simple redesign or full-on structural changes to the website.)

However, Mueller insisted:

“Nothing on our side says that if a website is revamped then we must change its ranking.”

In addition to this, he added that, if you are doing a revamp, the following should remain the same, as far as possible:

  • Your URLs
  • Internal linking
  • Content and structure of the pages

What would cause Google to treat an old website as a new one?

If the URLs of your site and/or the layout and content of your website change and there are no redirects to the new links from the old URLs, then Google will treat your site as new one.

Keep an eye out for Google updates

Remember that Google is always making updates and changes, so if your ranking shifts, it could coincide with something that they’ve altered at their end.

Mueller recommends using different testing tools to ensure your site is crawlable and indexable.

Crawl your site before you change anything, so that you have a record of what it looked like beforehand, and can compare the old and new sites.

Does changing a website’s structure affect rankings?

There can be an impact for search rankings if you make structural changes to your website and while each website will be different, that may mean good news – for example, if you go from a single to a multi-page website.

What about if I change the ordering of the paragraphs on my website?

Put simply, the answer to this is typically no, but there can be some impact, because the search engine aims to understand the context of the text that you have on the pages, so if you shift paragraphs around, that could alter the way Google would understand that information.

What sorts of changes might be noticed?

In the session, Mueller was asked about what would be an example of a change that Google might notice – and he gave just one example. If a heading is moved to the footer, he explained, that sends a signal to the search giant that that information no longer really matters.

Finally, if you have any pictures you want to show up in image searches, because these bring you traffic, bear in mind the rankings implications of changing any images.

Talk to us before anyone else

In summary,  you need to update your website carefully and bear in mind from the outset any implications for search engine placements. Always have a back-up copy of your original site in case you need it. If you can’t easily identify any changes, do a site crawl to pinpoint any potential reasons why. Equally, if any shifts are due to a Google update, you’ll need a different kind of audit.

Talk to us at Front Page Advantage about your website update. We’re here to help, with extensive industry knowledge and a thorough understanding of how to make effective upgrades without affecting where you come in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Give us a call today.