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It currently ranks in the top five on Google for the desired keywords and I dont want this to change. Will a redesign have any negative impacts on the SE position (providing I keep the meta and titles the same)?
As for the redesign of existing pages, you may get better or worse results depending on a number of factors, such as changes in keyword density (normal SEO stuff), also if the content changes position in the source code - eg. if you are going for a CSS layout replacing a nested tables one the content can be placed first and the menus afterwards, which may improve your rankings.
I would think of your users first - the redesign should aim to improve the usability of the site - clearer menus, better structure, etc. You can only win in the long run.
Regarding Google's response to all this, the other 28 pages remained at a zero PR for the first couple months, the other 2 pages jumped to a PR of 4 in the first month. Currently, a year later, the 2 pages are a PR6 while most of the other 28 have leveled out at PR5 ( a few PR6).
As for other SE, it appears to have had no positive or negitive effect. All 30 pages get crawled regularly and display decent in the SERPs.
What had been interesting to watch was the total click throughs from the SERPs. The 2 pages of changing content have generated at least double the incoming traffic from users during the first 6 months as I was constantly changing content. It became apparent that the SE's were not dropping the old, nonexistant content as fast as they were adding the new content to the index of these 2 pages. Users were still clicking through to a page using keywords for over 3 changeovers prior in addition to the newest indexed set of keywords targeted.
The test is over since I've found the right mix for the web site, so can't say what the results would be like today with the rapidly changing SE environment. But I'd say change can be good. Design changes are good for the end user and appears to not impact negatively with the SEs.
I have non-commercial site of about 100 pages.
Around 90 of those are map images or statistical graphs with explanatory text running down the right side of the images, all HTML, fast loading.
My main entry page has 3 links to MENU pages, (2nd level) each of which link to about 30
3rd level Maps and Statistics images.
Nearly every page has links back to index.html, to the three menus, and to closely related pages at the same level, 2nd or 3rd.
Main Entry page (index.html) also has about 8 links to an "All About" page, a Links page,
Contacts page and other 2nd level stuff.
Don't I already have a "site map" of sorts, due to this structure? Would it really be advantageous to whomp up a Site Map proper? Wouldn't this be kind of redundant, and maybe even look spammy?
There is nothing spammy about my site now, I want to avoid that at all costs.
I will sticky the URL to anyone kind enough to share their opinions. All suggestions deeply appreciated. -Larry
[edited by: Woz at 8:10 am (utc) on April 28, 2004]
[edit reason] tidying up [/edit]
I have no intention of changing file names. I see how disastrous that might be.
I just want to know if my relatively simple 100 page site actually needs a Site Map, and whether this might not even be a liability.
Would Google give me the slightest boost in the serps for my keyword, simply for having a site map? I doubt it would do my visitors any good, but many here seem to insist that it is a must. Opinions anyone? - Larry
[edited by: Woz at 8:11 am (utc) on April 28, 2004]
[edit reason] tidying up [/edit]
Changing filenames is *not* a good idea - particularly for Inktomi/Yahoo, irregardless of 301's. They are working on it, but 301's are NOT currently being properly handled.
A site map will help search engines find all the new pages, but there have been cases reported where old pages long gone were still retained and showing in the Yahoo/Ink index. Changing filenames could mean having TWO entire sets of pages in the index for ages until - and if ever - it's straightened out.
buksida's original question:
Will a redesign have any negative impacts on the SE position (providing I keep the meta and titles the same)?
There's far, far more than titles and metas for scoring - over 100 factors come into play. Scoring is based to a degree on page text, and changing the layout of the text code-wise along with other major structural changes, like navigation and internal anchor text (and placement of the links) could possibly make a difference.
Switching from text to mostly graphical is sure to make a difference - just sprucing up graphics and other factors to improve appearance and conversion wouldn't have the same potential impact.
[edited by: Marcia at 8:29 am (utc) on April 28, 2004]