Your January 2017 Search Engine Bytes Digest
 by Kristi Hagen

How to Upgrade an Existing Site Without Losing Rankings

  • I am looking to update, refresh, and migrate a well established existing http site from html to https and WordPress. The existing structure is using an outdated URL structure that looks like keyword_keyword.htm.

    I've considered a permalink plugin to maintain the existing URL structure in order to avoid using 301 redirects. But, since I also want to update the security aspect of my site by upgrading from http to https, would using the 301 redirect be my best option for doing this all at once? ... and in conjunction with updating Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC) etc.?

    I'm thinking it may be better in the long run to use 301's to get rid of the old URL style anyway.

    I'm planning for the new content and structure to be very similar to the old one — but refreshed and updated to the most recent Web standards, built in WordPress, and based on the content of the current site.

    What are your thoughts and advice on how I should proceed?

Answer:

This is a really good question because switching to WordPress would require a major URL structure change. So, the #1 question is - Do you REALLY want to use WordPress?

Such a structure change will very likely have a negative impact on rankings for a period of 30-50 days. Mind you, it may not be a horrible impact but it's likely to be significant enough that you will notice it.

So, the next question I need to ask you is: Can your site afford to temporarily lose some (maybe a lot) of your usual Google-generated traffic?

If so, then yes; a 301 redirect from all the old URLs to the new HTTPS / WordPress structure is in order. As you know 301's can be tricky so if you need a refresher then read our article here on that.

If you aren't willing to lose that traffic, even if it's temporary, then a new static site redesign maintaining the old URL structure with very similar content would require only a redirect from HTTP to HTTPS

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