John Mueller Explains How Revamping A Website Can Harm Its Rankings
Publishers and site owners will often conduct a website SEO analysis to ensure that any changes they make won't negatively affect their rankings and search visibility. In an After-Hours Webmaster Hangout, Google's John Mueller discussed several factors that could affect one's rankings, which emphasises the need for a thorough SEO analysis when making website changes.
Mueller also explained that while there are multiple scenarios where changes could be harmless, certain kinds of changes could impact how Google perceives the site. This includes situations where the search engine sees the site as brand-new.
Search Performance Impacted By A Site Revamp
One SEO shared that he had revamped his last three websites and experienced a significant decrease in their ranking changes in search results. He said that this situation had never happened before, and he is now trying to determine the root cause, whether the problem lies with Google or other underlying factors in general.
On a side note, Mueller did not clarify what the person meant by "revamp". This term could range from a simple design change to a complete SEO update, including the meta data, content, and site structure. Nevertheless, Mueller was adamant that it was not Google's fault.
He said that it is best to look at the case on a per-website basis because Google never changes a site's ranking after revamping it.
In the person's situation, they experienced a decrease in rankings in those three websites they revamped. Mueller suspects that the SEO is doing something unique when revamping their websites because it is not Google's nature to block revamps in general.
Next, Mueller shares the three essential things that SEOs should watch out for as they revamp their websites:
- The links should stay the same as much as possible. This ensures that SEOs will not have to change their URL structure.
- The internal linking should also stay the same as much as possible.
- The content and page layout should stay the same as much as possible.
Moreover, if these technical elements are aligned, Google may perceive the website as faster because they are now using a faster infrastructure.
Mueller then shared the kind of changes that could cause Google to perceive websites as being completely new. According to him, the search engine will treat a website as new if the factors do not align or if the site owner changes one of the following: URLs, layout, and content.
Having a website without redirects from the old URLs to the new ones would also give Google the impression that it is a newly-launched site. The main reason for this is that the search engine will re-crawl a website from the ground up, and it can determine if there are completely different layouts, content, or URLs from the previous version.
Website Changes May Coincide With Google Updates
Mueller next discussed Google's frequent updates and the possibility that the ranking changes might not be relevant to site changes.
Some online businesses and publishers would make changes to their websites at exactly the same time as when Google updates their core algorithm system. When this situation happens, SEOs are left to wonder if it is Google's fault or if they did something wrong while revamping their website.
Therefore, it is crucial to conduct a website SEO analysis and double-check all of the technical details, including the old URLs and the archives, looking at the before-and-after changes. Webmasters and publishers can use various testing tools, like Screaming Frog, to ensure that all of the site parts are crawlable and indexable. They can crawl their current website, update it, then crawl it again; this way, they will know how the before and after site looks.
The Impact Of Site Structure Changes
The SEO who asked the question thanked Mueller for the new insights he gave. Then, he opened up about changing the site structure to divide it into multiple sections. This is the first time he mentioned this information, so Mueller treated it as an entirely different question.
Mueller said that changing the site structure impacts how search results present one's website, and it can have a positive effect, too. In the SEO's situation, changing a one-page site to a multi-page type might have a good effect on those websites. However, that same change may have a different effect on the current website where it does not make much sense.
Changing The Order Of Paragraphs
The SEO then asked if changing the order of paragraphs on the web page could affect how the search engine sees the page. Mueller replied, saying that it is unlikely to have a huge effect on the website because their algorithm system can understand the context of the page's text.
However, it could only affect a little bit; for instance, if they move the paragraph from a prominent part to an unimportant area, Google would perceive it differently.
How Changing All Images Affect Rankings
The person's last question was about how Google perceives the website if updated with new images. Mueller said it would not cause any changes for normal web search but may affect the site's image search rankings.
If SEOs get most of their rankings from their site images, then it is obvious that their rankings would change.
Negative Search Changes Should Be Investigated
If an SEO could not easily identify the changes in search rankings, they should conduct an SEO analysis and a site crawl to determine the negative changes on the website.
If there are no apparent causes, then there is a possibility that a Google algorithm update caused the change. This would mean that the site owner would have to run a different site analysis, which includes double-checking the search results to determine what Google changed.
Update Your Website With Position1SEO
One should observe precautions when changing their website, as one wrong move can immediately hurt a website's rankings online.
We at Position1SEO can help you revamp your website while still maintaining your rankings thanks to our white hat SEO tactics that are 100 per cent compliant with Google's guidelines.
We pride ourselves on our years of experience in the SEO industry, and we have successfully worked with a long list of clients from different niches. We take a no-stone-unturned approach in our work, and we make sure to highlight and resolve every little problem that could be holding your website's rankings back.
To know more about our services, we can schedule a time and date for a free phone consultation. Just write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0141 404 7515.