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I am currently in a project for one of my biggest clients. We have built a website that will -replace- the old website.

When it comes to actual content its is largely the same. However, the presentation of the content has changed drastically. From our point of view much more user-friendly (main reason to update the site).

Now, since the sites presentation has changed we have some major changes in:

  1. HTML & CSS: To change the presentation of the content
  2. URL's: To make them better understandable (301 redirects have been taken care of and are in place)
  3. Breadcrumbs: To enhance the navigation (we have made the breadcrumbs match exactly with the url's)
  4. Pagination: This was added to enable content browsing
  5. Title tags: Added descriptive title tags to the major links and buttons.

Basically all user content including meta tags have remained the same.

Now since this company is rather successful and 90% of its clients come from Google's organic results I am obliged to take all necessary precautions. People tell me I need a migration plan to prevent the site being hurt in Google, but I have never worked using such a plan...

...So, based on the above. Would you consider a migration plan necessary and what precautions/actions would you recommend to prevent us being put down in our SERP positions?

Many thanks in advance for your answers.

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I'm pretty sure the 301 redirects should preserve the 'link juice' from the previous version. Aside from that user1337's answer has some pretty good suggestions. It's not all about inbound links nowadays. –  Evan Plaice Jun 5 '12 at 0:11

2 Answers 2

Don't over-optimize. Make sure the pages all have unique page titles and descriptions. Make sure the title attributes (not to be confused with the <title> tag) don't just replicate what the text link says.

Make sure the pages load as fast or faster, accessibility doesn't get worse, you use a XML sitemap... Also a good idea to do a full analysis of what you're currently doing well for SEO.

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If you are changing page URLs and especially domain, be prepared to have a transition period during which the website will probably LOSE visits. Google is going to reprocess your entire site (even if you used 301 redirects), and it might take some time.

If your customer looks at visits statistics you better warn him, because he might see a fast downturn in statistics for the 1st month, otherwise you will hear him screaming.

Anyway it will be a transitional period (but it might take couple of months), after the site (and the visits) should slowly go back ranking as good as before or even better.

This comes to my previous experience, when I migrated some eCommerce sites. It might be that you are doing a better migration, but why risking?!

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The advice on webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/2652/… helps with the effects of the statistics downturn. –  Metalshark Jul 15 at 14:43

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