One of the questions that quite often arise in conversations with our clients (including those potential) is the question “whether during the contract for positioning you can change your website and whether SEO migration is at stake”. The question is very important, especially when we take into account two facts: building a new website is usually not an instant action, and a standard positioning service contract lasts 12 months. In addition, there is an appeal of an SEO specialist to let you know about changes being made within the site. So, are we signing our positioning contract hostage to our own website?
SEO migration is possible?
Let’s keep uncertainty and start by answering. Yes, it is possible to change the website or completely rebuild it during the positioning contract. Sometimes, it is also strongly recommended or simply necessary to be able to effectively position such a website. The last case does not mean surprises for the customer. We inform you at the stage of inspecting the website before signing the positioning contract that you need to change the website. In individual cases, such a recommendation regarding the site only appeared after signing the contract and transferring access to the site. At that time, the analysis of the website’s construction, possible thanks to the access received, showed that even basic optimization or removal of errors in the website’s construction was not possible (most often it concerned websites built on wizards or proprietary CMS). In our opinion, there was only one fair solution – informing the client about the condition of his website, indicating what can help the website and how it should look new (what should include a good site adapted for positioning), as well as enabling the client to decide whether we are finishing positioning agreement (without contractual penalties, notice periods, etc.) or are we trying to act with current focus, e.g. on external works, hoping that this will bring an effect.
What does website change mean for results?
In this case, a lot depends on what stage of the positioning process we are in and what positions the website to be changed. Here we will present several situations and discuss them in more detail in terms of what the change involves and how it affects the work of a positioning specialist.
The site is high in the results – presence in the top 10 or close – will SEO migration hurt?
This is a situation in which the customer will be particularly interested in whether the change of the website and SEO migration will not cause permanent decreases in position. Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that this undesirable process will not occur. A lot will depend on how Google evaluates the new website. Therefore, we are happy to advise you already at the stage of building a website and indicate what is worth making sure that this “shock” associated with the change is as low as possible. The risk of falls always occurs, it is important that this period of decline is as short as possible, and the site jumps as quickly as possible to the positions occupied by its predecessor (and of course improved its achievements) – this is the task of the positioner. Changing the website each time means the likelihood of a decrease in its visibility and traffic.
It is worth noting here that we are talking about a website that will be available at the same address as the previous version of the website. The new domain – even with a properly made redirect from the previous one, which is high in the search engine results – will not inherit its visibility.
In the case of websites with earned positions, it is worth paying attention to the following issues when changing pages:
– Is the new website similar to the previous one, which was successful in search results – is it similar in structure, is it similar in size or even larger (moving from an extensive website to one page is not a step in a good page in terms of SEO) or category names , subpages etc. are similar. It is worth identifying (with the help of an SEO specialist) in the old website those elements that had a positive impact on the positioning process and include them in the design of the new page. These can be category names containing keywords, including space for text on the home page, blog or news that are an integral part of the website, etc.
– Are the content of the new website containing keywords and an offer that matches the phrases to which the website is clearly visible in the search results? If not, then you can’t expect the new webpage to be clearly visible in the search results for these keywords, as was the case with its predecessor. It happens that the new website appears under the pressure of major changes in the company and its offer, in this case a lot of activities related to the website are basically work from scratch.
– Has the existing content been moved to the new website, is there more or have it been cut off for the needs of the new website, or is it missing at all? The positioners’ attachment to valuable content on the website and their suggestions to place it on the main page or in the descriptions of the categories can only be compared with the zeal of an English teacher speaking to the final grade. If the new website in terms of quantity and quality of content is similar to the previous version, then there is a growing chance that the decreases will not be so severe. Of course, if the offer, the scope of the company’s activity or other important issues have changed, even the best SEO supporting text from the previous version of the page is no longer necessary and must be replaced with something corresponding to the current state of affairs.
– Is the new website available for network robots? This includes issues related to whether the site is running (or how long it has been down), the contents of the robots.txt file, meta robots, or cannonical settings. Even the best new website, which has been sensationally prepared for SEO, will remain invisible if it is not available to Google web robots. As a curiosity, one can give the fact that sometimes (although in very rare cases) it is enough to unblock the availability of the site for network robots to enjoy being in the top 10.
– Access to the website for a positioning specialist. The new website means that the positioner will have to find time to audit it, determine which optimization actions should be implemented first and which may be introduced later. Even a website prepared in accordance with the guidelines of an SEO specialist may require work and corrections, e.g. in optimizing meta tags or redirections. the latter is important because of the links obtained so far. Links to dead pages do not support the site. If these non-working subpages are redirected to subpages that are part of the new site and are available to web robots, then these links are again gaining importance in the context of positioning. The sooner a positioning specialist receives the necessary access to the new page, the sooner he will be able to implement his changes.
The site is in distant positions in SERPs
In the event that the “old” website did not have specific results and was not in the lead, it is important to improve those issues that blocked growth in the past. It is important to identify them as early as possible and indicate what can be improved during the work on the new site (if these were issues that could not be corrected earlier for various reasons). It is also worth pointing out what was valuable in the case of the previous version of the page and ensure that this asset is also used in the new version of the website. This case is devoid of as much result pressure as the website, which is already present in the top 10. It is important here to create a new strategy that takes into account the changes that have occurred within the site.
The source of very low positions (100 positions visible in the report) may also be a penalty from Google on a given website. Changing the website does not mean automatic abolition. An exception may be a situation in which the new version of the website no longer contains an error that responded to the imposition of a penalty. Such situations are, for example, the old page was a threat to the safety of users (a site hacked) or was punished for texts (hidden text, dramatically low quality content, etc.). If the new site does not commit those sins (respectively – it is safe for people visiting it, has good quality text content, etc.), then there is a chance to remove the manual penalty. Manual punishment can be detected using even Google Search Console.
The site has been positioned for a long time
The case of a site that has been positioned for a long time and obtained a large number of links at that time is special. As we mentioned, links leading to dead pages do not support the positioning process. The way to “save” them is to make redirections correctly. This is especially important in relation to naturally obtained links, e.g. in the case of entries recommending on forums and containing a link to a subpage, the positioner cannot edit them and enter a new – correct URL. The link to the redirected subpage is less valuable than the link directly, but it is better than the link to the down page, which does not present value.
The effect of longer positioning can also be an extensive blog section (with internal linking) or a large amount of content added to the page. It’s worth moving them to a new page. If the content was used to perform internal linking, it is worth continuing to use it, but remembering about any corrections in the URLs of the links.