Making some changes at the website webmasters wonder if these changes will have an effect on the website positions in search engines. In short, yes, will have! However, to begin with, it should be clarified what you mean by the word “changes”. In addition to the changes in the content, in the used keywords and incoming links, usually modernization, affecting positions in the sickle, includes:
- Change of the domain name
- Change of the content management system (CMS)
- Change of the design
- Change of hosting
Companies change the domain names for different reasons, including: improved usability, or better than before the domain name (for example, del.icio.us on delicious.com, or prototype.conio.net on prototypejs.org). These changes can be the result of the acquisition, of business expansion or just of the change of the name of the company.
If the search engines index the site with the current domain name, then it will be important how will be introduced a new domain name. What must be done? If you changed only the domain name then it’s enough to make 301 redirect from the old website’s domain to redirect visitors, and you need to say bots that pages are moved to a new address. Thus, all links weight of old pages are not lost, and will be transferred to new pages and the new domain.
Change of the content management system (CMS) and of the design of the site can affect the visibility of a website in search engines. A frequent companies’ mistake is that they do not pay attention to way of change of the syntax of the URL addresses (for example, webpage.html on webpage.php or webpage.aspx), and that moment will confuse the search engines.
You need to redirect the old URL to the new permanent (301) redirect. Those pages that can’t be redirected to the new addresses due to various reasons, you need to make them giving answer 404 to remove them from search engines’ index and to prevent errors of broken links.
Changing the hosting should not affect the ranking in search results if the change happened without any problems. Change of the hosting provider and the IP address of the website should include the complete customization of a website to a new hosting, changing DNS records to indicate the new domain name or IP address. Then you need to make sure that the website is available with its new address for the search engine bots. Only after that you can close (switch off) the website basing on the old host.
As for changes at the website, the search engines in this sense are not very smart and you must do everything to explain to them about the done modifications. Otherwise, the positions in search engines may decrease.