When Revamping a Site Can Negatively Impact Rankings

In an After Hours Webmaster Hangout, Google’s John Mueller answered a number of questions on what sorts of modifications might affect rankings and what sorts of modifications is not going to.

Along the best way Mueller explains completely different eventualities which might be innocent and in addition the sorts of modifications that will affect how Google sees the web site, together with seeing it as a model new website.

Search Performance Impacted by a Site Revamp

The particular person asking the query stated that the final three websites he had “revamped” had skilled extraordinarily damaging rating modifications in Google search.

He famous that had by no means earlier than occurred in earlier “revamps” and was looking for out if this was one thing on Google’s facet in addition to to know what sorts of modifications might affect search efficiency generally.

It should be stated that John Mueller didn’t ask to make clear what the particular person asking the query meant by a “revamp” of a web site.

A revamp might vary from a easy redesign to a full web optimization replace to the content material, meta knowledge and profound modifications to the location construction.


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Google’s John Mueller Discussing Revamping Websites

John Mueller Says it’s not Google…


“In common these sorts of issues I might have a look at on a per web site foundation.

There is nothing on our facet that’s form of saying that …if a web site is revamped then we should change its rating.

…If you’re seeing this with three web sites that seems like perhaps you’re doing one thing distinctive with the revamp processes and never that there’s one thing on Google’s facet that may be blocking revamps generally.

For revamps there’s typically a few issues that come collectively and it’s typically difficult to determine precisely what all is occurring.

But the principle factor that I might be careful for if you’re doing a revamp is to ensure:

That the URLs keep the identical as a lot as attainable so that you simply don’t change the URL construction.

That the interior linking stays the identical as a lot as attainable.

That the content material and the format on the pages stays the identical as a lot as attainable.

And if these technical components are basically aligned then from our facet the one factor that we see is that perhaps the web site is a little bit sooner now since you’re utilizing a sooner infrastructure.”


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What Causes Google to Treat an Old Site as Brand New

John Mueller listed the sorts of modifications that will trigger Google to deal with a web site as being fully new.

“If however these components don’t align like:

  • If the URLs change
  • If the format modifications
  • If the content material modifications
  • If you don’t have redirects from the previous URLs to the brand new ones

Then these are basically points that say to make use of that now we have to deal with this as a new web site as a result of basically we crawl from the beginning and there’s fully completely different content material or it’s fully completely different in setup or it’s a fully completely different format or the URLs are fully completely different.

So that’s… basically from our facet, we might say oh it’s a new web site, we’ll begin over and attempt to perceive it once more.

So that’s one thing that I might be careful for there.”

When Website Changes Coincide with Google Updates

Mueller subsequent talked about that Google is at all times updating and that modifications in rankings won’t be associated to current modifications to the web site.

Mueller noticed:

“The different factor can also be that we additionally make different kinds of rating modifications throughout the online as properly.

And typically if you do a revamp you get the timing in such a excellent means that it aligns precisely with after we make a core replace or after we make a larger rating change.

And then it’s actually laborious to acknowledge: Is this concern due to my form of technical change that I made or is that this concern as a result of Google simply usually would have understood my web site otherwise anyway.

Trying to determine like… is it one thing that you simply did with the revamp or is it one thing that Google modified?

I feel that’s form of a good first step and to do a few of that it’s actually helpful to simply double verify all the technical particulars and actually form of hyperlink get a map of all the previous URLs after which verify them in archive.org and see what they appeared like earlier than and make sure what they appear to be now.

Use the completely different testing instruments to be sure that it’s all crawlable and indexable… all of these issues.”


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That final bit about crawling a website is superb info. Always crawl a website earlier than making any modifications so as to have a document of what the location appeared like earlier than the change.

Once the location is up to date the brand new website will be crawled and any modifications between the 2 states will be in contrast.

Screaming Frog presents a visible illustration model of overview displaying the interior hyperlink construction with properly linked nodes extremely seen. Comparing the 2 views, for instance, can provide an instantaneous concept of any unintended modifications.

If a website URL construction has modified then the crawl of the previous website can yield a checklist of inner pages which may then be fed into Screaming Frog as a checklist crawl which is able to present if any pages are orphaned or not redirected as they need to be, and so on.

Is Changing the Structure of Site Impactful?

The particular person asking the query thanked Mueller then added that he had modified the construction of the web site so as to divide it into a number of sections.


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He hadn’t talked about this earlier than so now Mueller in impact is answering a completely different query.

Now he’s answering if altering the construction of a website will have an effect on how Google sees the pages within the website.

Mueller answered:

“It’s one thing the place altering the construction of a web site will have an effect on how search seems to be at it and it may be a optimistic impact too.

So that may be that the earlier revamps that you simply did in case you went from a one web page web site to a multi-page web site, it may be that that was a good change for these web sites.

But it may be that the identical change for the present web site that you simply’re engaged on doesn’t make a lot sense.”

Does Changing Order of Paragraphs Affect How Google Sees Page?

The particular person asking the query subsequent requested if altering the orders of paragraphs on the net web page might have an effect on how Google views these pages.

Mueller answered:


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“Not often however it might have an effect on a little bit as a result of we do attempt to perceive the context of the textual content that you’ve on the pages and in case you transfer one paragraph from one thing that could be very distinguished to an space the place it’s like oh that is a facet notice.

Then that would have an effect on how we see that info.”

Example of a Change Google Would Notice

In response to 1 extra comply with up query John supplied an instance of a change that would get Google to have a look at the web page otherwise.

“It can be extra in case you change one thing from it’s like a heading of a web page and also you moved it strategy to the footer or one thing like that, that’s one thing the place I might think about our system saying oh it’s not necessary anymore.”

Will Changing All Images Impact Rankings?

The particular person asking the query requested yet another comply with up query, this one asking if Google would change the rankings if the web site up to date their website with model new photos.


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Mueller answered:

“For regular net search it wouldn’t matter.

For picture search, if you need these photos in picture search and in case you’re getting site visitors from picture search, then in fact altering the pictures would matter.”

Negative Search Changes Should be Investigated

If the modifications in search rankings can’t be simply recognized then step one must be a website crawl to determine damaging modifications that may turn out to be obvious from the crawl knowledge.

When there are not any obvious causes then it could possibly be a change associated to a Google replace, which then means a completely different form of audit that entails checking the search end result to see what has modified within the sorts of net pages Google is rating.

Changes to a web site must be finished rigorously.

Backups are important. In the occasion that one thing goes horribly unsuitable the location can rapidly be restored to the unique state and rating declines reversed.


Watch John Mueller reply a number of questions on web site revamps and drops in rating, from the 40 second mark of the video.


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