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Site redesign and Google search
site redesign, google search, LAMP environment,

 6:44 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

About to undertake a complete site redesign and eant the process to be as Google organic search friendly as possible. It’s rather nice-size content site with some shopping that's been on a rollercoaster with Google SERPS for awhile (see past posts)—we once were tops, then we had Jagger, 950, and a batch of witch brews with no concrete reason as to why.
The site does not presently use CSS and was about to embark on a total redesign incorporating CSS. Been suggested by programmers that a redesign using a LAMP environment instead of Dreamwever/CSS and preserving as many of the URL's as possible would be more efficient for content updates .
Question: How advisable is it to totally change the platform in way of incurring more of the wrath of Google organic search? Are we better updating the site in stages or as a total redesign at once? How is LAMP in general?
Google giveth a natural search spike last week and then Google tooketh by week’s end. When in the redesign process is the best time to contract new SEO analysis?
Thanks for your input.



 8:16 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

To get the best from Google, you need to rethink your policy of "Google is our natural enemy".

There's a wealth of evidence that you'll do much better visualizing a 'virtual partnership', where you build a good site, and Google builds good serps.

"incurring more of the wrath of Google" really will not get you far - Google is a complex of computers and software and really has no wrath.

You'll thank me later ;)


 8:39 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

*How advisable is it to totally change the platform..*

Not advisable but sometimes needs must, I'm doing a "rolling" redesign/content update while keeping the original file-paths, and so far so good.

Never heard of LAMP so can't help you there, and the best time to get some new SEO input is ab initio, IMO...


 1:56 am on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

LAMP environment is Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP


 10:37 am on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google giveth a natural search spike last week and then Google tooketh by week’s end.

Google dances on the weekend quite often.

I've been doing a site redesign without major SERP problems. Some things are up, some are down. It's not clear that there's been any penalty over many changes in a short period of time.

I try to minimize the number of new pages, keeping the old urls as often as possible. I suspect the main issue to Google is the relative increase in total pages for a week or month.

I also suspect its programmers understand there's no need to penalize a webmaster who's trying to better user experience.

They may even check a redesigned site (a lot of page changes) to see if it's been overoptimized, and then issue penalties if necessary.


P.S. I check SERPs of major key phrases daily to see if any changes upset Google.


 1:35 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks, but our Google rollercoaster is not the normal ups in downs over a few days-- it's massive highs and lows that last for months and could drive you out of business. We're not over optimized, but something somewhere isn't right. Glad for reputation and Yahoo!

Really want to know more about totally changing platforms and how LAMP fares in search.

Thanks again, for everyone's thoughts.


 5:15 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure why you're seeing LAMP and DreamWeaver as mutually exclusive. I recently redesigned a 600 page site using Wordpress and Dreamweaver (couldn't have done it without DW).

There has admittedly been a drop from page 1 to page 2 on Google's results for my main keyword. But that might have happened anyway. For some reason Google doesn't particularly like my very thorough, comprehensive site (with tens of thousands of organic incoming links) compared to some of the single-page wonders with a handful of incoming links that are above me.

Anyway, WP makes it easy to add new content, I'm using the blogging software to add lots of new material, and the verdict's still out on what the longterm outcome is. Somehow I cling to the hope that good content -- and lots of it -- will win out in the end.


 12:42 am on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)


I'm not seeing LAMP and DreamWeaver as mutually exclusive- the designer/programer is, if that matters.

As far as adding content goes, it's a content site so obviously we update frequently by adding pages.


 1:05 am on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

The designer/programmer is in all likelihood the most important factor in this project. You are planning on using a CMS, I assume. The right factors need to be baked into that recipe for search engine success. If you don't compromise around on-page factors or urls structure for the site, you can make any platform work.

These factors are not mysterious - we talk about them all the time here. But still CMS systems keep popping up that generate weak mark-up or even pages that are dead wrong. Make sure that your content creators understand the importance of title elements and meta descriptions, plus H1 and H2 tags. And make sure the CMS empowers them, rather than obstructs them.

Also make sure your content creators cannot subvert your intentions by hiding links on the page, and so on.

preserving as many of the URL's as possible would be more efficient for content updates

Preserving URLs is good, but not if the new system needs to do pretzel yoga to accomplish it. 301 redirects within a domain can kick in relatively quickly if you need to change the urls for established content. However, you are right that the best policy is to preserve your important URLs unscathed.

I think more trouble gets generated by technical errors than by technically sound site restructuring.


 1:08 pm on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thank you, tedster for sound advice.

I know you do not make recommendations here, but being this is an expensive proposition both in fee and potential business loss from poorly or subversely executed coding, is there a way to clearly check on our end that everything is going as hoped for?

Are there any advance signs in a CMS to avoid? Any checklist besides your already mention title elements and meta descriptions, plus H1 and H2 tags, and superflulous links?

One more question, that more a cart before the horse situation or vise versa: Is it more efficient to have a SEO and/or linking strategy strategy consultation before or after the redesign to ensure a better start?

Thank you again.


 9:18 pm on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Keep as many of the old URLs active as possible during this redesign. All new URLs flags it as an all new site.

Make sure that each "page" of content has only ONE canonical URL that can be used to access it.

Most CMS driven sites have several to many dozens of Duplicate Content URLs that cause serious indexing and ranking issues.


 11:06 pm on May 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

I like that if there is pictures they are at the end of a first page and not top.

what I dont like is - WHERE is the directory


 9:44 am on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

On the SEO/ linking strategy I'd have someone in at the construct stage to ensure you make the most of your internal architecture, done properly it can minimise dependence on external links, particularly for inner pages.


 10:44 am on May 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

I recently re-designed several medium-sized sites. About a year ago I re-designed my main site. I did use 301 redirects (as I did change the URL structure of a couple of hundreds of pages). There was a decline in traffic for a few weeks, and then it bounced right back and went up.

We're using LAMP apparently (didn't know the term before ;)) but that hasn't changed. Same server, different CMS, still PHP based with SEO friendly URL's.

I really don't think these things matter that much, as long as you keep the basics of SE friendly pages (not over-optimized) - other factors will determine how well your site does in the SERP's, IMHO.

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