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  1. #1
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    Website redesign and rebuild, possible SEO impact

    Hello,

    I'm in the process of rebuilding a very old table-based design website and I'm concerned about how the redesign might affect SEO.

    The site in question is <snip> and it currently appears on the first page of the SERPS for the keyword phrase <snip>.

    If you look at the existing HTML for the Home page of the site you'll see that:

    1. No <img> alt tags are used
    2. There are no text tags (<h1>, <h2>, <p>, etc) used in the header - only <img> and <object>
    3. The block of text in the main content area is actually an <img>

    In my redesigned header, I would like to include several text fields (perhaps one <h1> and a couple of <h2>'s). I'd also like to employ alt tags for all <img>'s. And, I'd like to put the text block in the main content area in a <p> tag.

    I'm planning on:

    1. Keeping all page URL's exactly as they are (even though they are currently all .php and there will be no PHP used in any of the redesigned pages)
    2. Copy/pasting all <title>, <meta name="keywords">, and <meta name="description"> tags as is into the redesigned pages
    3. Removing the <meta name="robots"> since it's not required
    4. Adding two additional navigation items (will leave all existing nav as is)

    My concern is that one or more of these changes might adversely affect the first page ranking for the keyword phrase I mentioned.

    Any advice or input as to what I should or should not change, or how I might "safely" migrate to the new design is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by TechnoBear; Jul 25, 2012 at 09:55. Reason: URL removed

  2. #2
    Life is not a malfunction gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
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    I don't think you have anything to worry about here. All your proposed changes should have a positive impact on SEO, rather than a negative one. The good news is that anything that helps human visitors to your site - like proper heading tags, alt text, etc - also helps search engines.

    If you're changing the site from .php to .html, you can do a redirect in the .htaccess file to account for that.

    The only occasion on which I converted a table layout to a non-table layout, the site improved slightly in search engine rankings.

  3. #3
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    Hello Techno,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Just to clarify:

    1. Yes, I agree my changes should have a positive impact in the long term, but what about the short term? Could it be that all of my proposed changes will drop the site off the first page of the SERPS for a short period of time, and if so, how long might it take before the site is back on the first page?

    2. Do 301 redirects have any impact on Google rankings?

    3. I noticed you snipped the link and keyword phrase from my post. Is this because this kind of post should be posted in the Website Reviews forum (which I just discovered)?

    Thanks.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by webfeet View Post
    1. Yes, I agree my changes should have a positive impact in the long term, but what about the short term? Could it be that all of my proposed changes will drop the site off the first page of the SERPS for a short period of time, and if so, how long might it take before the site is back on the first page?
    I see no reason why your site should drop. Google knows that sites will be redesigned periodically; the search engines are interested in the content, not how it's presented.

    Quote Originally Posted by webfeet View Post
    2. Do 301 redirects have any impact on Google rankings?
    For changing a site from PHP to HTML (or vice versa)? No - none at all, in my experience. I've also moved a site from one domain to another, using 301 redirects for each page and there was no problem with it.

    Quote Originally Posted by webfeet View Post
    3. I noticed you snipped the link and keyword phrase from my post. Is this because this kind of post should be posted in the Website Reviews forum (which I just discovered)?
    Yes - and I did send you a PM to explain that when I did it, honest.




  5. #5
    SitePoint Member SearchMinistry's Avatar
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    If the current site is that poorly optimised then having a redesign while incorporating all the relevant SEO factors will only have a positive factor.
    Remember though, creating a new url without the .php will class as a new url and therefore you may well see a few fluctuations for a week or so when the new site is scanned by Google. BUT Google is clever enough to work this out eventually. Remember in webmaster tools you can make Google aware of what you are doing so you can associate www.yoursite.com/page1.php with www.yoursite.com/page1 and then you should see little or no impact.

    Rich
    Last edited by TechnoBear; Jul 27, 2012 at 06:08. Reason: Example URL delinkified

  6. #6
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    There will be inevitable fluctuations for a while as new urls will be seen and need to be indexed. New content may take a while to be for its keywords to find their place. Overall the changes should not have any long term adverse effects, but actually enhance your presence.

  7. #7
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    Hi Rich,

    Thanks for your comments. I wasn't aware of that "trick" in Webmaster Tools - it sounds similar to placing a 301 redirect in .htaccess.

    David

  8. #8
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    You'll still need the 301 redirect, of course, to ensure inbound links go to the new pages.

  9. #9
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    There are theories that Google will penalize your site if it is "over optimized".

    http://searchengineland.com/too-much...or-that-115627

    Google’s Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on a search ranking penalty for sites that are “over-optimized” or “overly SEO’ed.”
    In April 2011, we redesigned a site including changing the URL structure. The old URL structure had an ID number in it; the new URL structure was "search engine friendly" with descriptive keywords. Also, the meta data was all SEO'd, and all the h1 and h2 tags were properly SEO'd according to long-held beliefs. We also made sure to 301 redirect all requests to the old ID-based URLs to the new "search engine friendly" URLs.

    Google killed our traffic. It still hasn't recovered.

    If at all possible, do not change your URL structure. Even if you 301 redirect, there is no guarantee that you will escape any adverse impact. As a matter of fact, there is never any guarantee of anything when it comes to Google.

    If your traffic is important to you, the risk is far too great.

    Also, there really is no reason to change the URL from .php to .html. Even if you are not currently using any PHP code in your files, you might do so in the future. PHP files can be used for plain HTML (and I do that myself). If you use .html and want to insert PHP code in the future, you will have to add a handler to make the server parse the .html files as PHP.

  10. #10
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    Hi cheesedude,

    Great information, sorry to hear you are still recovering, thanks for taking the time to post.

    David

  11. #11
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    I would have to disagree with the suggestion that you avoid changing the URL structure. I would definitely use optimal URLs and put the 301's in right away. I've never had an occasion where it hurt, as long as it is done right.

  12. #12
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    Hi YowSeo,

    Thanks for your input.

    David

  13. #13
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    Google Places and Google Maps Consideration

    After closer inspection, it appears that the first page SERP ranking for the aforementioned keywords appears only in the Google Places/Google Maps listing that appears above the organic results (I don't see the site URL listed at all in the first 10 pages of organic SERP's) .

    So, now I'm wondering this - can I make all of my suggested coding changes and not worry at all about first page SERP ranking? In other words, does the on-site SEO coding have any affect on Google Places/Google Maps as far as ranking? Since the business address for the site is changing (and since the business address is shown on the website), I'm also wondering what affect that might have on where the site ranks in Google Places.

    David

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by webfeet View Post
    After closer inspection, it appears that the first page SERP ranking for the aforementioned keywords appears only in the Google Places/Google Maps listing that appears above the organic results (I don't see the site URL listed at all in the first 10 pages of organic SERP's) .

    So, now I'm wondering this - can I make all of my suggested coding changes and not worry at all about first page SERP ranking?
    As the old saying goes, when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose. You don't have to worry about losing a ranking you don't have.

    Quote Originally Posted by webfeet View Post
    In other words, does the on-site SEO coding have any affect on Google Places/Google Maps as far as ranking? Since the business address for the site is changing (and since the business address is shown on the website), I'm also wondering what affect that might have on where the site ranks in Google Places.

    David
    Whatever Google does today does not mean they will do the same thing tomorrow. As far as Google Places/Maps SEO goes, it's a case of "your guess is as good as mine". How much traffic do you get from that, anyway?

    http://www.seomoz.org/blog/google-pl...rrelation-data


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