What's the best way to update a high ranking website?
 by Kristi Hagen

What's the best way to update a high ranking website?

  • I've been asked to work on the redesign of a WordPress site that was launched about 5 years ago. The site does very well in the search results and is often one of the top 3 positions in the organic results, frequently ranking just before or after TripAdvisor.

    This is impressive because the website provides regional information for tourism and derives revenue from local business and Google ads. The site owner has delayed updating WordPress or the theme for fear of breaking something. They're concerned that any sort of redesign or WP/theme update might cause them to lose their great rankings.

    How would you recommend we get all this done with the least amount of impact to rankings?


We often encounter this type of project. We typically can avoid loss of rankings provided that we...

  1. Change the theme only
  2. Do not change content
  3. Do not change URL structure

If you stick to that simple guideline, it's unlikely you'll see any impact on rankings. However, if you change any of the URL structure and/or the content all at the same time, then it's possible your rankings can drop precipitously. Therefore we suggest updating the theme without changing the URL structure or any of the indexable main content. Be sure to leverage our checklist to be sure you've covered ALL the bases when doing your redesign: A Webmaster's Checklist to Protecting Traffic and Rankings During a Website Redesign!SEN article end