We hear these questions a lot: “Won’t my search rankings drop if I make changes to my website?” “What if I update my site and it is no longer found by Google?”
We understand how scary it is to think that if you update your website it might drop straight off the face of the Internet. But fearing the loss of your Google rankings shouldn’t be the determining factor in whether or not you make changes to your website. Yes, there are some valid concerns to take into consideration when re-vamping your site in terms of SEO, but with a little guidance you can update your site, maintain, and even improve your search rankings.
We’re here to help you understand the potential risk of updating your website in regards to your search results. But, first we’d like to emphasize that updating your website is more important than holding onto an outdated site solely from the fear of affecting your SEO.
If your website looks dire – your visitors will leave [period]
For argument’s sake, let’s say you’ve scored the top spot in Google search rankings. That’s pretty incredible considering how many millions (possibly bazillions) of websites exist online. And it’s definitely not something you’re going to be willing to give up. You’re being found first, and that’s no easy feat online.
But being found is only part of the battle. What you really need are viewers who find you and stay on your site long enough to know that they want or need your services. If your visitors are thinking: “Geez. This site was last updated in 1992? Does this company even still exist?” you’re going to have a very hard time convincing them to contact you, let alone purchase your products or hire your services.
Valid points to consider
Of course there are some valid concerns when it comes to upgrading your website and the potential effects on your search rankings. The following points are the ones we consider to be the most crucial:
- Changing your domain name. At some point in time, you may decide to change your domain name; possibly because your business name has changed or you find your current domain doesn’t appropriately reflect your branding. Whatever the reason, if you do decide to change your domain name while keeping your website’s content the same, we highly recommend keeping your current domain registered when you purchase your new domain.
With your old domain name still in your possession, your web developer can redirect it to your new domain name so that you don’t lose any traffic if someone types in your old domain or follows an old link. Keeping your old domain registered will help you maintain your website’s search results. There are varying opinions on how long you should keep your old domain name registered. We’ve heard anywhere from 3-10 years, but if you’re concerned about losing your rankings it’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially given the low cost of domain renewal.
- Creating a new website and leaving your old site online. If you’ve developed a whole new site with a new domain name but similar content, make sure to redirect your old domain name to your new one and remove your old site. Having two sites online with similar content can negatively impact your search results; the new site will have a much harder time gaining traction in search rankings as it will be constantly competing against the older, more established site.
- Changing your web hosting provider. If you’ve been hosting with the same company for a number of years and have always had positive rankings for your site, we don’t see any reason why you would want to change your hosting services. However, if you do decide to change hosting providers, you will want to make sure that your new host company is credible, and well-established. Hosting providers with poor credentials or spamming habits will be looked upon poorly by search engines.
- Drastically changing your copy/content. Long gone are the days when best-practice SEO techniques included key-word stuffing, spinning articles, and “black-hat” link building tactics. Well-written copy that answers your visitors’ questions is, ultimately, the best way to be found by search engines. So focus on content that is important and useful to your viewers.
If your copy has been providing you with positive search results, you’re bound to be afraid of re-vamping your content completely. That’s okay; you don’t have to replace all of your copy if you’re re-working your site. We recommend replacing what’s necessary to keep your website relevant and up-to-date and useful to your visitors. Remember that you can negatively impact your search results by letting your site slide into a state of neglect.
There’s no need to be afraid of change if you keep the above points in mind. A good web developer will help you through the process and answer your questions and concerns. Always remember that an out-of-date website can negatively affect both your rankings and your visitors’ decision to use your services. So, let those new ideas flourish and help grow your business by keeping your online presence fresh and up-to-date.