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Responsive Web RE-Design and SERP

3:46 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

Lately I changed one of my site's layout to be responsive. This meant replacing <table> with <div> and moving styles to CSS, etc.

In addition, blocks of HTML, such as the menu and the Ads, may have been moving up or down in the overall code.

The content stayed exactly the same.

I am seeing a decrease in the SERPs, by around 20% - 25% in the pages that I had changed. The decrease was not sudden but over a period of 2 weeks, maybe because crawing of these pages took a few days.

Is it possible/common to loose this amount of ranking due to design changes? Or does the problem lie somewhere else?
7:24 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Might be another issue as I converted 2 sites to responsive style and neither lost rankings. In fact 1 maintained rankings while another improved.

Check where your ads are placed - if they've moved up in the code this could be your issue
8:11 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

I would say the ads moved down a little. The menu navigation (links) moved up in the code and the site name (title + logo) moved down in the code.
It could be other issues, but the decrease happens only in the English version (Spanish and German version is unchanged in SERP) and the decrease is not sudden, hinting that it is related to crawling. Maybe...

Just interested to know whether this happened to others?
9:27 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Did you change any URLs? Did you change the number or destination of any internal links on any of your pages(top navigation, left navigation, breadcrumbs, footer, widgets, etc.)? Did you change the link text of any internal links on any of your pages?

All of these and many more could affect your rankings.
9:38 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

You might want to check the Google Update History [webmasterworld.com ] to see if the drop coincides with any listed there before going further in deciding the cause.

Two sites I changed recently (2011-2012) to responsive didn't change. I've been doing responsive a while - my first responsive site was well before this recent popularity.

[edited by: Hoople at 9:52 pm (utc) on Feb 10, 2013]

9:39 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

I did not change any content, links, text, etc. Looking at the page it seems identical.

I just replaced Tables with Divs and Style with CSS and @media CSS.

However, the positions of HTML blocks may have changed, moving up or down in the code.
9:59 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I changed my major site in a very similar fashion to yours and noticed no drop in rankings. This was started about six to eight months ago and is still continuing.

The key changes, as you seem to mention, were tables to divs and a total move to stylesheets. The content remained unchanged.

At the same time I developed a mobile version of the site (the main reason for the change) and the mobile version has prospered well beyond my expectations.

Did you change of the navigation aspects of your site?
10:02 pm on Feb 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

@hoople Thanks.
Webmaster Tools show -0.7 in SERP in average for the section that was hit. G Analytics show that average position has dropped too.

In addition, I am suspecting something else: For many of my search terms Google now displays results from the knowledge graph, pushing me below the fold, even if I rank 1 to 3...

Do you know a link/list where Google displays ALL updates on their knowledge graph pushes?

(@nomis5 thanks, no navigation did not change)