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Major Changes to a Website: Why Are You Even Doing It?

Google's John Mueller answers a question about migrating to WWW version of a site. Then he offers points to think about regarding major changes

Major site changes and google rankings

Google’s John Mueller answered a question about how long it takes for Google to process moving from non-www version of a site to a www version of the site. Mueller answered the question but he also addressed the bigger issue of site changes and whether or not they are even necessary.

What’s Best Way to Change Site Without Affecting SEO?

The person asking the question wanted to know how to make a major site change without it impacting their top ranks.

The question:

“My website is on non-www which is ranked number one on Google. Both pages and posts …I want to switch from the non-www version to the WWW version.

What’s the best way to do it without affecting SEO ans is there any risk in… of changing when you do that?”

Google’s John Mueller answered:

“The best way to do this is to follow the normal site move guidelines that we have. And essentially everything is outlined there.

So with regards to tracking the URLs that you have previously to kind of the following through with the redirect and making sure that all of that is set up properly, I would follow  those things.

My feeling is that overall a move within the same domain where you’re just changing essentially a different subdomain is something that is fairly unproblematic and should happen essentially fairly smoothly.

And if you set up the redirects properly, if you’re not blocking things in any specific way then I would imagine that this is something that is processed within a week or so.

Even for, I don’t know, a medium-sized website it should be like a fairly straightforward move just from one subdomain to another.

Moving between domains is a little bit trickier.

Moving or kind of splitting or merging websites, that’s a lot trickier.

But this kind of move from one version to another version is usually totally unproblematic and it’s also something where if it were to take a little bit longer it doesn’t change anything for the user because they would click on the old link and just end up on the new page and it would all just work.

So, I think this is totally unproblematic and probably something that’s easily doable.”

Related: Site Migration Issues: 11 Potential Reasons Traffic Dropped

Website Changes Should Make Things Better

John Mueller brought up an interesting point about making website changes. The point he makes is that any change that is made to a website should ideally help the site become better in some way.

That can mean that the site is easier for users to navigate and find content.

Or it could mean that the site has faster performance.

John Mueller continues his answer:

“The main thing I would think about here though is that this is always like a site move kind of situation where you have a lot of work that’s involved.

So I would kind of consider like what are you really trying to do by moving like this?

What is the problem that you are trying to fix?

Because it might be that you do all of this stuff essentially everything is the same in the end if you get it right.

But if everything is the same in the end why are you even doing it?

So that’s kind of the direction I would look at there.

I could imagine there might be situations where you have a CDN where you need to do that to have kind of separate host name.

Bu if there’s no strong technical reason to do it I would just keep it as-is.”

Major Website Changes Should Be Considered Improvements

John Mueller began his answer by answering the question directly. But then he did an interesting thing and pulled back from viewing the tree and took a look at the forest and began addressing the larger issue of successfully implementing large website changes.

The key point he made is to ask if there is a valid reason for making the change and if the answer is that it makes the site substantially better then that’s a great reason to proceed.


Time it Takes for Google to Process Non-WWW to WWW Change

Watch John Mueller answer the question at the 37:48 minute mark

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Roger Montti Owner - at

I have 25 years hands-on experience in SEO and have kept on  top of the evolution of search every step ...

Major Changes to a Website: Why Are You Even Doing It?

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