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I have a job coming up that is the classic converting a static site to WordPress. The current site has excellent SEO and the client obviously wants to ensure that it remains like that.

I am wary that the conversion will mess up the SEO. What steps do I need to take to make sure the SEO remains excellent?

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SEO has nothing really to do with the underlying technology that drives a site. If the page content, domain name, and URL structure are effectively remaining the same then you should see no drastic changes. Some things to consider as a just in case may be...

  • Page Speed
    WordPressm while being one of the best CMS's out there and being very popular as a content platform, is still a dynamic web application and will result in a marginally higher time to first byte (TTFB) which is one of the many signals used by Google. Unless there is a misconfiguration or a badly behaving plugin that shouldn't present a problem, but it is good practice in instances such as these with such a major change to run page load tests to ensure that it won't be an issue.

  • URL Structure
    Ranking is based, amongst other things, the links back to the pages in question, and as such any change to the URL structure itself can cause sometimes dramatic changes to ranking depending on the extend of the changed URL structure. In this sort of situation you need to ensure that any changed URL has a 301 redirect confiured in the server to direct the user to the new page which will cut down on ranking affected by a well ranking page suddenly disappearing (due to the different link) as well as maintaining a good user experience by not sending them to a page not found error page due to the changed URL. Changes to ranking based on these sorts of situations are often only temporary until new organic links can be established with the new URL's.

  • Domain Name
    Ranking is locked to domain name and as such if migrating to WordPress will involve a domain name change you will need to be carwful and use the Google webmasters form for changing the domain name in order to help transfer ranking to the new domain name while the organic links are built back up for the new domain name.

  • Content
    Here is the big one, as content is king as far as Google is concerned. You need to make sure that as part of the migration the quality of the content will remain the same or better. I have seen migrations where content was mangled moving it from static to dynamic due to user error and this can sometimes lead to larger than expected impacts to ranking depending on the severity of the mangling.
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