How to change the structure of the site without losing positions?

    If necessary, to do something with a site launched in the early 2000s, a prehistoric pangolin of the frontpage period, the first reaction of a normal perfectionist will be like this:

    But now the server is already doused with digital gasoline, and the digital match is ready to start the process of disinfecting the hard drives, and the responsible person comes to the head thought: “But what about the flow of the target audience? But what about purchased links, achieved positions in search results? .. ”Of course, it is necessary to think about this when reworking / upgrading, and when the site is completely restarted.

    In fact, during the redesign in most cases there is no point in changing the structure of the URL - even if it remains old, surrounded by an array of indexed incoming links. Changing the design, layout, content, technical parameters of pages while maintaining the theme will, in general, even be a positive factor for SEO. Especially if you comply with all the requirements of internal optimization and improve what was previously.

    So, rule # 1: You don’t need to change URLs just because you really want to start from scratch.

    If the site owner’s business has undergone significant changes, the structure will have to be customized to meet new requirements. Again, usually most of the URL may well remain. But some pages will still disappear and will be partially replaced by new ones.

    Rule No. 2: You can safely delete pages or change URLs if there are no external links to them.

    Rule number 3: If there are external links, but the pages do not have good positions in the TOPs of search results, these pages can also be deleted or changed URLs. If you have control over external links, you can redirect them to new pages.

    The most pleasant situations from the point of view of the developer of the new version of the site are considered above - all of them, in general, do not require any additional gestures. But if the site owner claims that it is necessary to maintain positions in the results, and serious money has been spent on links, you will have to pay attention to the structure of the URL and redirecting links.


    All pages that are subject to removal or change of URLs should be checked for:

    1. The presence of positions.

    The most reliable option is analysis using the installed statistics system. All of them (Google Analytics, Yandex.Metrica, LiveInternet) show visitors coming from search engines, including their requests and the pages to which they came. If the page has visitors from search engines for queries convertible into sales, it should be handled carefully and respectfully. It is necessary to try to save this traffic by all means, and then multiply it. It is the counter that gives the most adequate information: even if the page has positions, but there are no targeted visitors (although this happens extremely rarely, and this problem needs to be dealt with separately), any manipulations can be safely carried out. The second way is checking the positions by keywords (if you managed to get them from the site owner). You need to use a service , enter a list of keywords and the URL of the analyzed page. You can also spend 3 minutes and start a project in SeoPult - if you enter keywords, the system will not only show positions, but also tell you which pages are close to the TOP (in the future they can be quickly and successfully promoted).

    2. The presence of valuable inbound links.

    It is best to take the site owner access to the account on the service with which the link mass was created. Most often, this gives full control over the links, since even if there are any additional links, their number compared to the number purchased through such a service (for example, SeoPult) is insignificant. But in the case of old sites, everything can be more complicated: the owner could well not use exchanges and automated promotion systems, but negotiated directly with webmasters - that is, access to changes to URLs can be very difficult, and in any case not automated. This is a difficult situation, which must be decided in each case individually. In this case, remember the previous paragraph - if there is no traffic, you do not need to worry about reconfiguring the link mass. And if there is traffic, then usually there is access to work with external links. Nevertheless, it will not be superfluous to try to find all the backlinks - for this you can use Yandex.Webmaster (Site Indexing / Inbound Links), Google Webmaster Tools or specialized SEO services such or .

    URL Changes and Redirects

    1. Deleting pages without creating analogues.

    If the owner of the site has ceased to sell particle accelerators and switched to trading in Universe moderators, then the corresponding page needs to be removed. Visitors interested in small garden colliders are no longer targeted. Therefore, you must: a) delete the page about accelerators; b) create a moderator page with a new URL; c) if there is control over links to the old page, rearrange them to a new one - but with the replacement of anchors, that is, the linking text. You can redirect these old links to other pages - for example, some of the old ones, but not deleted during the modernization of the site (again, in most cases, you will have to change the anchor). In a few minutes, this can only be done if the link mass was collected using the exchange or an automated promotion system.

    2. Change the URL without changing the subject.

    Although we already wrote that changing the URL of a page with links and positions is not worth it unless absolutely necessary, sometimes it is still desirable. For example, when the addresses are not SEF (SEO-friendly) and CNC (human-readable). That is, for a page selling refrigerators, the URL / refrigerators or / holodilniki would be ideal, but not /? = 398tfdsdlll12 or something like that.
    If the page has no positions, and there is control over the backlinks, you can safely change the URL and address of the links. Otherwise, it would be better to include a redirect with code 301 (moved permanently), and then gradually - so as not to lose position - transfer incoming links from the old URL to the new one. Link weight is redirected, but direct links are still better. If the positions are very good, gradualness should be very gradual, since one of the most important factors in the quality of a link is its age. Although it should be noted that changing the backlink address within the same domain is less significant.

    3. Change the URL with a change of subject.

    Similar to paragraph 2, but with the mandatory replacement of backlink anchors. New anchors should include keywords that match the content and meaning of the new page. It is obvious that there will be no preservation of positions in search engine results - in the best case, there will be a “good attitude” and the conclusion with new keywords will be faster.

    4. Setting up redirects.

    Non-Habr users need to be taught how to work with CMS and web servers, but if redirects are a new area for you, we recommend that you read the article from the SeoPult mailing list and the article by Sergey Koksharov .


    If you have control over the incoming link mass, you can change the structure of the site without any special problems without sudden loss of position. If there is no control, then losses are inevitable, so it will be necessary to connect additional channels for attracting traffic (contextual advertising) at a time until the updated site restores the lost positions.

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