Some spammers have been known to buy authoritative domains then change them beyond all recognition, hoping to capitalise on the existing standing of the domain, as well as the inbound links. As a result, search engines can be wary of domains that alter their content dramatically.
If you do revamp your site ask yourself this ‘are all of my inbound links still relevant?’ In other words, would all of the people who chose to link to your site before, still choose to link to you if they saw your site now, post changes. Google will be asking the same question. The only way it can make sure that you’re not a dodgy spammer (as opposed to a well meaning business owner, innocently investing in a few website updates) is to place you on probation – reducing the value of your links while waiting to see whether people are going to choose not to link to you any more.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of changes that may cause this to happen. We’re not saying that making these changes is a bad idea, we just want you to be prepared.
Content and Site Map
Altering the content and the structure of your site are red flags to the search engines. It may be that you have decided to implement a new content management system and you have taken the opportunity to revamp the site map, streamlining the flow of the site and updating the content.
This is all good stuff from a business perspective and most companies need to do it at some point but be aware that these are big changes that will take the search engines a while to come to terms with. In the meantime – which may be months – your ranking is going to drop. Don’t let this put you off if your site is in dire need of an update but make sure you alter your marketing to accommodate the change, during this period.
Topic and Theme
Really speaking, we’re still under the banner of content here, but we’re highlighting something ever so slightly different. For example, if you have always sold 2 main products and you decide to diversify, making a 3rd, new product the main focus of your site then the site will alter dramatically in topicand your ranking is likely to drop for a time as your authority builds again.
A change of ownership, if it’s noticed by the search engines, may negatively affect your rankings. However, in this case, there are ways to avoid this happening.
Changing the e-mail addresses on the site is likely to go un-noticed. Even changing the e-mail addresses and the name and address of the owner can slip under the radar. However, a change of ownership usually comes with other change and a desire to revamp the whole site. If you want to avoid a dip in rankings, resist this urge.
A change of content and of owner will almost definitely hurt your SEO. Change the owner details subtly and in isolation, waiting a while before making other changes, if you want to maintain your position.