If you move a site from plain old HTML to CSS design, immprove navigation and add new content there is every possibility that your rankings will improve. (Mine did).
Just remember not to change your page names. ;)
AFAIK, updating frequently (or at all) will not in itself increase rankings in Google.
As you said, it's the improvements due to optimisation or *better* content that are driving any ranking improvements.
I'm in the middle of a big redesign at the moment. The aim is to increase "stickiness" and to encourage visitors to refer the site to their friends, which leads to more traffic.
More traffic leads to more people linking to the site, which hopefully leads to better ranking.
I'm not expecting that the redesign *in itself* will lead to better ranking, but that it will indirectly promote better ranking through encouraging more links. That's the plan, anyway.
if you ask me (which you didnt) these days you have more chances of losing rankings than gaining with any changes unless you have the holy grail of trusted and/or whitelisted status...
I think this is a scary time to be doing any redesign, especially if you rank well. If you're in trouble, you have nothing to lose, but I would still be conservative in your approach. Improvements to HTML and updated/expanded content should be good, but don't do too many pages at once, I've heard Google doesn't like that.
Good luck to you, and let us know how it turns out.
Last year, I inherited a site that was done entirely in Flash, and wasn't doing well in rankings. The company that designed the site did a last-ditch effort, which was to create static HTML pages, each devoted to a single keyword or phrase.
When the company I work for inherited the site and the task of doing a re-design, I suggested that we keep the static HTML pages, and only make very minor modifications. We kept the same URL's for the pages, and made minor modifications to title tags, <h1> tags, etc.
I was very worried that the entire site would lose its rankings, and told the client that this was a very real possibility.
Fortunately, the existing static pages held their rankings. We've added more static HTML pages, and those have done well in the rankings.
The pages that were completely redesigned are still struggling a bit. But nearly all of those pages are dynamic, and have long query strings in the URL's.
|I think this is a scary time to be doing any redesign |
If you redesign a site (retaining the same URLs) and make it easier for the search engines to index the information therein the effects will almost always be positive. Not dramatic, but positive. This should not harm your rankings in any way.
I have revamped sites on probably about ten occasions and it has never caused a problem. This is not theory, this is experience.
|don't do too many pages at once, I've heard Google doesn't like that. |
I wish you'd told me earlier! I've just completed a total update, with changed names, only 150,000 pages!
I'm expecting three months of dire traffic and almost total revenue loss.
I'm going through a "rolling redesign" as well, initially just a half dozen pages to get G used to them ;-)
Kept titles/metas/filenames but had to update look/content, I'm expecting to see drops though....
I have a site which last had a major revamp during the Florida mishap as we had nothing to lose at the time. It's designed using tables for structure and although (I think) the site still looks good and works well there will come a time when we have to change it for accessibility reasons. We should do it now really but have #1 rankings for the most important search terms in our market.
The problem is the leap in the dark that you have to take when doing this sort of thing. Some of our competitors have already brought their sites up to scratch and seem to have done OK in rankings but they still have not knocked us off top spot.
This is a major dilema and it would be very helpful if Google took positive steps to encourage changes for the right reason.
Sid, I changed a site of about 100 pages from tables to CSS and, if anything, it increased traffic.
Since I started adding new pages to my site about every other week my traffic increases by about 30% every year and my site is not 100% css. I have seen the same thing happen to client sites that keep adding more content.
Part of the reason for this increase in traffic is a wider focus on keywords but also more pages on site increases the links pointing at the home page and other pages and thus more PR.
We are in the process of reworking our entire 1200 page ecommerce site taking a section at a time.
We are applying css, adding keyword phrases for our niche, updating content, eliminating keyword repetition in titles and h1 tags.
Applying css does not appear to have had any result on serp's but will be big dividend in maintenance. We update every page once a year with new pricing and features.
Adding new keyword phrases has helped significantly for those keyword phrases. This was done in conjunction with eliminating duplicate titles.
Some improvement for existing keyword phrases. More lower level pages showing up in SERP's. Gains vary from no gain to many positions in SERP.
Updating content was more of a defensive move to keep our lowest level pages from going supplemental. Almost all of our individual product pages are indexed.
Bottom line is we will spend lots of money this year so we will be better positioned for future years. We won't get our investment back in increased sales this year.