Rebuild site without losing Google ranking

Hi guys,
I’m about to rebuild someone’s website which old and has a pretty good google ranking. If I retain the urls eg.,… will that preserve the google ranking?
If I change the urls around a bit, eg., will that break any google ranking?

Any tips on this is welcomed. Thank you.

There is never any certainty that any site will maintain current rankings - even if the owner did nothing to the site.

It depends what you mean by “rebuild”.

If you mean that you will change the colors, layout, images, style, etc but will keep the same content, strucutre and navigation then you should have a good chance of not destroying your current rankings.

The key thing has to be about the URL of each page on the new site compared with the URL of the same page on the new site.

If the URL is identical then google will have no problem finding the new content.

If the URL changes (even slightly) then it is extremely important that you set up http code 301 Permanent Redirection so that any request for a page using the old URL is immediately and automatically redirected to the same or closest equivalent page on the new site.

That will benefit your visitors, avoiding 404 Not Found errors, and will enable Google to understand better what your intentions are and update the indexes accordingly.

If you don’t do that your new site is likely to struggle for a long time.Google needs to know what to do with the OLD URLS and visitors need to have a positive experience when they follow links from google (and other sites) to your site.

Thanks mjarel. This has been really helpful.
Do you happen to know the best way to set up a 301 redirect? I have researched this in the past but can’t find reliable instructions. I am using wordpress, so a plugin would be nice but not essential.

If you are using an Apache server and can use the .htaccess file, it’s very easy. Open the file (or if you don’t have one, create a blank file in a plain text editor), and for each redirect that you need, add a line like:

Redirect 301 [COLOR="Red"]/old/page[/COLOR] [COLOR="Green"][/COLOR]

The old page can just be a path from the root folder, but the new page must be a full URL. Then save the file and upload it to the root folder on your website.

As mjarel says, it is important to set this up for any pages that you move, so that both search engines and people will find the right pages. It won’t guarantee that you retain your rankings - it’s quite likely that you will see a small, temporary dip as Google gets used to the new site structure - but it gives you the best chance of keeping as high up the Google tree as you can.

Thanks Stevie. I’ve read that this can cause problems if you do it wrong. If I misstype something in my .htaccess file, will it wreck my site at all? What are the likely risks?
If something bad happened could it be fixed simply by putting the original .htaccess file back?

If there’s an .htaccess file there already then make a copy of it and save it to your computer first, so you’ve got a backup of the original. If there isn’t one there then you can get back to the current situation by just deleting the file.

If you type it wrong, all that will usually happen is that a page might redirect to the wrong page, or might not redirect at all - it would be unusual for a typo to completely break the whole site!

According to me first of all try to rebuild your website design and other things without change but if you need to change forcefully then you can use 301 redirect method as a member describe already in above post and create a webmasters account and let google know about your changing, Otherwise your previous PR and position will be lapsed after few days.


Thanks again Stevie, good to know 301 redirects are not as scary as other forums make it out to be. I’ll give it a go on a test site first, just to see what happens.

Jeperry - yup, I’m going to try not to change the structure of the site where possible but the client does have many more pages to add, so I might need to rearrange the structure so its clearer for the visitor.
I’ve just started using webmaster, I’ll look into letting it know about the change.