If you're reading this you probably have a decently ranked website which you are considering for a redesign. How a redesign will affect your Google search rank depends mainly on what kind of changes you are making. Are you changing primary content? The way the site looks? The navigation structure of the site? I'll talk about how different changes can affect your website and also touch on basic guidelines to having a high quality, high traffic site.
The main thing to think about when creating a site is your users. If visitors to the site don't have a good experience then your site likely won't do well regardless of what rank it has in search engines. The best thing you can do to have a well ranked site is to have a high quality site. Google's own goal is to provide users with the most relevant results and a great user experience. There's no one special trick to getting a high rank on Google. They want the best experience for their users which means providing them with the best sites in search results. Ask yourself "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?" That being said, there are things to consider with a redesign that can affect your rank.
The aspects of your site that you change will determine how much your rank is affected. Changing your main content will likely have the greatest effect. That is, the words on your site is what Google looks at. If you remove words that people have been searching for to find your site then your ranking will go down. To get a good rank, think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it. Changing just the style or layout of your pages probably won't have as much effect on your rank. Redesigns sometimes change the link structure of your site which can affect page rank if some pages are harder or easier to get to from the home page than they were before the redesign.
Another thing to ask yourself is why you are changing the site. Is it to improve usability? Does it just seem like time for a fresh new look? Be careful of using flash content or images for your site since Google is really best at looking at text on your pages (see our earlier article The Difference Between an Image and Text). Of course there are no guarantees to your Google rank but keeping in mind the points in this article can help you have a high ranking. Remember, the most important thing is having a high quality site that's actually worth showing in search results.
Posted in Help Me Understand