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Forum Moderators: phranque
We have since added URL re-directs for the old page URLs, submitted an XMl sitemap to Google. The new pages have pretty much the same content as the old, and I'll be improving the content, page titling etc. over the next couple of weeks.
Do you think:
Will we recover the page rank, how long might it take, and any other ideas?
Contact websites that link to the client's site, to get as many incoming links as possible changed from the old URLs to the new ones.
Make sure the new link structure is squeaky clean -- no current pages should contain any of the old URLs, all canonical issues should be addressed, etc.
And I second phranque's question: Why did you change the URLs? I would think that the only safe approach would be to always assume that the client wants to retain their Google rankings. And that URLs should never be changed unless it's unavoidable, and after consultation with the client to ensure that the client knows the ramifications of changing URLs and is willing to take the short- to mid-term hit in exchange for greater long-term gains.
Who knows how long it's going to take for your pages to rank again, but you should stress to your customer that the work you've done is going to benefit them in the long run and then hope like hell that it does, I guess. Definitely want to check out the inlinks and make sure they are changing their links to point to the new URL's and it might also be a good opportunity to get in touch with those inlink webmasters to see about optimizing that anchor text, etc.
You might also want to consider issuing a press release about the site relaunch as that may get some relevant content distributed around the web and help you out a bit too.