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Would migrating to a CMS kill a site on Google?

     
6:39 pm on Jan 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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With all the changes afoot at Google, I'm debating the implications of converting my old, outdated, handcrafted, somewhat messy yet well ranking site to a CMS, like Joomla. My question is would this be tantamount to suicide or possibly the best move to make at this time?

I'd have to start re-building the site in a side directory or junk domain that is blocked by Googlebot, but that seem like taking my chances since it does not always behave properly, what's the best transitional strategy?

Also, would a content trim down to focus on better user readability be a smart move? Do you retain keywords and descriptions or let content be you guide?
11:40 pm on Jan 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

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This forum has many reports of both success and failure in migrations like this. My personal experience has been heavily in the area of success, especially when other changes are not made at the same time as the CMS change.

The biggest problems people run into are when they get complicated. If you maintain technical precision (especially in redirects if the URLs change), maintain essentially the same internal navigation, and don't make other changes at the same time (for instance, "trimming content"), the odds of success are very good.

This thread from July 2010 calls out a lot of the important technical factors:
Site Relaunch Checklist [webmasterworld.com]
2:34 am on Jan 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Thanks, Tedster. I'm considering exactly the same thing, for the same reason, so I'll look over the checklist carefully.
5:01 pm on Jan 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I don't know about Joomla, but with MODX it would be possible to implement the site in such a way that Google can't tell the difference.

IMO your CMS should not force your site into a particular URL structure or format.
7:49 pm on Jan 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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These are all great suggestions thanks for the tips!
8:14 pm on Jan 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Joomla certainly forces lots of things and then fails to enforce a whole bunch of things that it should.
9:09 pm on Jan 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I moved some of my non-CMS sites to WordPress in 2011 and it was a screaming success. YMMV.
5:59 am on Jan 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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More of a framework, but codeigniter allowed me to keep the url structure roughly in-tact. Page structure varied to some degree, and navigation definitely did, as we did a redesign at the same time. Totally worth the effort as the site is so much more maintainable now, like a breath of fresh air.

If a CMS is required there are quite a few other options. I'd personally stay away from joomla, or drupal.
6:17 am on Jan 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm in the "just do it" group. But will say that before any roll-out dev testing/checks have been done and there are near zero internal link transfers for content. That said... I've done that with general success (not 100%).

But killing a site? One would have to qualify what is a "kill".

If this is a money site making money, move with due caution. Keep in mind that sites which have page dates back to the 1990s are still pulling income without benefit of a CMS. There has to be a compelling reason to make that kind of transition. If those reasons exist, then make the change, take any lumps, then SEO after the change.
5:12 pm on Jan 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I've moved lots of sites from html to joomla, no particular problems and no loss in traffic, and no negative change in rankings as a result. And much easier to maintain once its setup.

Things that might cause difficulties:
- if you currently have filenames ending in .php that can be tricky at first to replicate in joomla
- if you have lots of pages in the root directory they take longer to setup because each one needs its own menu item to be declared in joomla (subdirectories you just define one menu item for the whole category)

There are joomla components that in theory can import a whole html site automatically but I've never used one.

But - I would wait for joomla 1.8 (out soon) if I was transferring a site, which will be the first 'full' version to include a proper 'one click upgrade' for new versions (like wordpress uses) which will take a lot of the pain out of using joomla.
6:20 pm on Jan 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I have never had an issue in the two migrations I have done (both to WordPress). In fact the tools available on the CMS platform quickly resulted in SEO results.
3:51 am on June 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Just wondering if backdraft went ahead with the migration and, if so, what has happened since then?
10:03 am on June 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I would write a custom cms... but then I've always done this. Almost all of my sites are driven by custom cms and I can't say they rank any better or worse than hard coded sites.

Just be very careful with repetition eg title, meta data, content and links. Too much boilerplate style code without a decent volume of changing, unique content will land you in the duplicate content zone.
10:05 am on June 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Sorry I didn't realise this was an old thread. I'm interested to know also backdraft
12:25 pm on June 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Just a note:

I moved much of my information section on my site from .php pages into wordpress and they seem to be doing ok. This was AFTER I was hit by March 23rd Panda, so this is relative.

I unfortunately redirected on popular page improperly for about a week, and after I corrected the redirect, it still took about a month for traffic to resume to its previous level.

So making sure that all pages are redirected properly - or better yet, using the SAME URL structure as before - Is the best thing.

Just my experience. Your mileage may vary.
2:23 pm on June 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately, I don't have the ability to write a custom CMS, but I can see the advantages of avoiding the boilerplate syndrome.

Planet13 - I'm thinking of Wordpress, and will check that WebmasterWorld forum next. I'm very much hoping that I can set it up to keep the same url structure. Seems to me that will avoid a lot of potential redirect issues. Thanks.
2:53 pm on June 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm thinking of Wordpress, and will check that WebmasterWorld forum next.


If you do, I would pay very close attention to anything that rocknbil might suggest to you, as he is QUITE competent when it comes to wordpress plugins and scripting.

Hope this helps.
3:08 pm on June 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Last Christmas I consolidated 4 country sites (country specific domains, hosting, links etc.. and all ranking very well) onto one global domain - my checklist was thorough and felt a little like military procedures. We experienced no drops in rankings or traffic levels at any point and within 6 weeks we were seeing the benefits of the move and traffic has improved month on month since then.

Whilst my situation was different to yours I can't recommend highly enough to plan plan plan!
4:41 am on June 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Appreciate the advice. I've got a static 1200 page site, 10 years old, definitely in need of updating to something more controllable, but I loath the idea of a cookie-cutter site.

Still, like some other older, established, authority-niche sites that I've been reading about, I've taken several huge hits from Google in the past year or so.

My reluctance to make the leap was always predicated on "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Now it's broke. But I'll be sure to read rocknbil carefully, and check thoroughly through the forums to make my own checklist. Thanks.