Quite often I have clients who look to change their websites and indulge in the art of a site redesign. One of the first things that they ask is "Will this affect my search engine rankings?" The answer to this question is an emphatic yes. Anytime you perform a drastic change such as a site redesign you run the risk of jeopardizing existing organic rankings. The trick is to plan, prepare and try to minimize the risk.
Google's Vanessa Fox addressed how to handle transitioning a website recently in an interview with Rand Fishkin at SES NY. In the interview, the following question was posed:
When a webmaster moves an entire site, what's the best way to handle the dip in the search engine rankings while that transition is made?
Fox stressed that it was a bad idea to simultaneously move a website to a new domain and redesign the whole thing. Instead, she says, take the pages from your old site and put them on your new site exactly as they are. Redirect the pages one at a time, carefully mapping on a one-to-one basis.
"What I see people do a lot when they do this move," she said, "is that they restructure the content of their pages instead of having this one-to-one mapping."
It's easier for the folks at Google and the robots working for them to know that this is the same site as before, just in a different place.
But it's also easier for the Webmaster if he or she approaches moving by doing it one thing at a time. When the inevitable dip in ranking comes, the one-thing-at-a-time approach makes it easier to pinpoint what's causing it.
The video interview is quite good considering that it is about 25 minutes long. If you have a moment check it out.
Labels: moving a website, ses ny 2007, vanessa fox