Am I going to screw up my client's search results?

First, I appreciate having the opportunity to ask questions in this forum and all those who answer. I believe that currently I understand as much about SEO as my cat.

My client has a few general informational html files (< 10) plus an ecommerce application that contains about 4000 pages of products according to a sitemap generator I used to get a sitemap to submit to the search engines.

I just completed a graphic make-over of this site and was planning to submit it to the major search engines because I thought it necessary. Turns out it might not be.

I thought it necessary because in doing searches from the top 5 engines using keywords related to her business (quilting) I couldn’t find her in any of them. So I thought to do that which I’ve read are the basics, i.e., add the site to my webmaster accounts, create and submit a sitemap, implement the robots.txt and ask the various engines to index. I assumed this would help since none of this has been done since her site was first launched several years ago.

I tell my client I’m going to do this and she’s a bit perplexed. She proceeds to tell me that her clients report they find her primarily by doing searches of products they’re looking to buy and her site comes up #1. Turns out she’s right.

I took 10 different product numbers in several different categories listed in her product database and searched these against the top 5 search engines and if her site isn’t #1 in each engine every time, it’s within the top 5 every time.

Is there any reason whatsoever to implement the “best practices for seo” for her site?

2-3 years ago I would definitely have said “yes”. More recently, if the site is getting good traffic for the keywords, I would probably not mess with it too much. Improving a title tag here, adding an H1 there, and improving the text on the page somewhere else is a good practice over time. But doing sitewide changes in seo could impact negatively, even if following the guidelines, as I have seen it happen pretty often lately.

Now that is not to say you should stop making a site better because you want to please google. If there is a problem, it may only be temporary as google reprocesses the changes, but I would be very careful if you are going to be changing the url structure or something major like that.

Thanks for your reply. Actually, all of the informational pages have been rewritten and modernized. Moreover, a few new pages have been added.

I have renamed the new general files, i.e., aboutus.htm has become about-companyname.htm, etc.

Should I keep the original file names instead?

Should I delay submitting the new sitemap to the search engines then?


As long as you have put a 301 redirect from each old URL to the appropriate new URL, there’s no real harm in changing filenames - you might experience a slight temporary drop in rankings for those particular pages but it shouldn’t last long.

If you don’t put a 301 redirect on, so people going to aboutus.htm just get met with a 404 error page, that really will screw up your client’s search results, as Google will quickly lose interest and confident in a site that does this :injured:

Thanks. Unfortunately, this site is externally hosted and I don’t have access to IIS. For some reason I couldn’t get rel=canonical to work in the pages either. What I did was, e.g., renamed aboutus.htm, created a folder called aboutus.htm, then created a default.asp page for that folder that redirects the request to the new about-companyname.htm file.

Everything’s getting redirected properly but it’s not really like a true 301 redirect is it?

I didn’t touch the internal shopping cart url structure at all, btw, just the external ones that linked into it.

In the final analysis of this makeover, 2 old URL’s have been redirected to their respective 2 new URL’s. There are no other old URL’s.

9 new pages have been added. The URL structure for the shopping cart application has not been changed at all.

So, would the concensus here then be that I should or should not submit this site to the various search engines at this time?


Even though you only have a few new pages, submitting a sitemap can’t hurt. On the other hand, as long as you have good internal links, the major search engines will probably find those pages very quickly even without a new sitemap.

Thanks for you help!

If the site is ranking well for the keywords and getting good traffic for it I advise noy to do anything.

Many thanks for your help.