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Change the structure of the site. Easy and painless

Sometimes it happens that for some reason there is a need to change the structure of the site. At the same time, many begin to panic about what can happen to the flow of targeted traffic, purchased by external links and already achieved positions in search engines. 

These moments really need to be considered before changing the structure of the site, but you certainly should not panic. 

In some cases, you can only redo the design, and leave the link structure old. But if the decision is made and there is no turning back, it remains only to organize the transition correctly in order to mitigate the possible negative consequences. 

In addition, changes in the design of the site, content, layout and technical parameters of the pages by and large are even positive factors for search promotion (subject to the preservation of the subject). Especially if you take care of improving the quality of internal optimization. 

In any case, before changing the structure of the site, it is worth analyzing all possible risks.

3 basic rules when changing the structure of the site

  1. Do not change the URL of existing pages without the need. Changing the structure of the site taking into account new requirements is often inevitable when it comes to changes in the business of its owner. And yet, if possible, the addresses of most of the pages need to be saved. And those who do not find a place in the new project are replaced with new ones.
  2. If you decide to change the page URL, do it right - tune 301 redirect from old to new ones as similar as possible.
  3. If the pages do not have good positions in searchable TOPs and incoming links, they can be deleted. Delete pages only if old services / goods are no longer needed on the site, and nothing similar will appear when changing the structure.

Remember that changing the structure of a site cannot always be painless. Very often, you need to change the URLs of the pages in the TOP, in the promotion of which serious amounts are invested using external links. Then you have to take additional measures in the form of redirecting links. 

Try to minimize the number of deleted pages and redirectes so that the site’s position does not sift. And even redirectes need to be configured correctly.

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Preparation for a change in the structure of the site

  1. Defining page positions by key queries. Performed using one of the many services for checking site positions. For example, Topvisor or Seolib

    You need to select pages with bad positions that you can safely delete or change their URL. 

    Проверка позиции перед сменой структуры сайта

    An even more important task is to compile a list of pages in the TOP that need special attention and take care of redirecting the links leading to them.
  2. Analysis of incoming traffic. At this stage, using Yandex. Metric or Google Analytics, it is worth determining which pages of the website the largest number of visitors come to, in particular, committing targeted actions (order execution, mailing subscription, etc. d.). It is worth considering that pages with good key positions do not necessarily receive a lot of targeted traffic.
  3. Analysis of the external reference mass. This step is needed to identify pages that have incoming links. It is performed using standard capabilities of Yandex. Webmaster and Google Search Console. You can also use third-party services like

    Анализ ссылок перед сменой структуры сайта

Moreover, if the acceptor pages have very little traffic and poor positions in the search results, you can easily get rid of them. 

With the rest, more valuable, you will have to work so as not to lose the valuable influence of the developed reference profile. 

In the case when there is direct access to the management of external links, for example, if they are acquired through GoGetLinks or others link exchanges, redirecting them to modified or new pages should not be a problem. 

But if significant links were received naturally (for example, recommendations from visitors) or through direct communication with owners of donor sites to redirect them, you will have to try. In some cases, this will be completely impossible.  And then, if changing the structure of the site is a fundamentally necessary step, some links will have to be donated.

Taking measures to preserve positions and traffic

  • Delete pages. Such measures when changing the structure of the site have to be applied when there is no longer any place for pages with old information in the updated project. For example, when they start trading in new models of goods, it is more logical to create new pages for them, rather than changing old ones. 

    It is worth remembering the incoming links and the need to redirect them to the pages created in exchange (or simply other) with the change of anchors in accordance with the contents of the new pages.
  • Change page URL. Even if the pages have traffic and they take advantageous positions, when changing the structure of the site, it may be necessary to make adjustments to their URLs. For example, when the addresses of pages from incomprehensible turn into CNC, it is even positive from the point of view of SEO. 

    Смена URL адресов на человекопонятные

    But at the same time, again, you need to save traffic and redirect external links.
  • Redirection of visitors and incoming links. 301 redirect when changing the structure of the site is a universal solution that will help preserve both traffic and position. 

    At least 301 redirectes when changing the structure of the site and helps to save most of the weight brought by external links, if possible, it is better to do without changing the URL at all. Why this: the weight is not immediately transferred, it will pass from a week to several months, until new page addresses appear and are fixed in the index. It is clear that all this time the positions of these pages (build and new) will swing behind the facets of logic. 

Briefly about the main

As you can see, if you follow the above instructions, a change in the structure of the site can take place with minimal loss of traffic and search items. The main thing is to be able to manage external links and be able to configure 301 redirect.