A client asked to re-do his website entirely. After I finished, I uploaded the new website into a folder of the old one, so the new one is in www.oldwebsite.com/new/.

The old has few pages, static content and nothing more. The new one has the same content plus additional pages, in terms of weight, it's 5 times bigger. The problem is that the old website has a very good SEO and when I search it on Google it displays on the first page of results. At this point I was thinking to not delete the old website and leave the structure as it is now, www.oldsite.com/new/ and just redirect all traffic to the new one. My main concern is that this way I may lose Google ranking and be penalized, so when I search it on Google it won't display anymore in the first page of results.

Being a beginner with SEO I don't know if this is legit and if not how to handle this situation, so I ask you what would you suggest me to do? Can I leave it this way and not being penalized?

  • I prefer using a subdomain for development because it makes this a lot easier when the trailing URLs don't need to be changed. And that is usually the biggest challenge in a new site migration. Web migrations are not easy make sure you have a plan in place. And a backup that you have tested with a restore.
    – keepkalm
    May 4, 2021 at 16:43

2 Answers 2


The idea is to put the new website at the same URL than old one (www.oldsite.com) to keep benefits of done SEO in the past (you lose just a little PageRank if you apply a 301 redirect to www.oldwebsite.com/new/.

Moreover, you must apply 301 redirect of all old webpages to the new ones one by one.

Then, just wait a little and you won't lose Google ranking (or just a little but your website will keep the same SERP positions).

  • Hi, thank you for your reply. I studied the code of the old website and I noticed the code is poorly written, inline CSS, no rel attributes, no meta keywords etc, so I was surprised that it had so good SEO. At this point I was thinking of deleting the old website entirely and upload the new one in the root. The new one has better code structure in my opinion. Do you think I will loose much rank ?
    – Ovidiu
    Jun 14, 2013 at 10:08
  • If the new website has a better code and you apply 301 redirects correctly, there is no reason to lose many positions in Google ranking. Or the loss of ranking is not about website migration. Otherwise, you mentioned you're beginner in SEO, are you sure the new website is better SEO optimized than the old one?
    – Zistoloen
    Jun 14, 2013 at 11:03
  • The things about SEO I know are the structure of the page, avoid inline style, apply 'rel' and 'alt' tags, proper meta tags, avoid broken links. The new website has all these things right, the old website is a mess. I think I can say the new is better than the old one. But being a beginner, of course I am not 100% sure, what do you think ?
    – Ovidiu
    Jun 14, 2013 at 12:22
  • I think the old website was most SEO optimized because points you quote are not the most important factors for SEO. Try to apply SEO factors described here on your website and you will get back your SERP positions.
    – Zistoloen
    Jun 14, 2013 at 12:49

SEO has little to do with the code and more to do with people staying on the site when they're presented with the site as a search result. The reason for the ranking is because of all of the social traffic associated with the site before. If you change those URLs regardless of how bad the code looks to you, it can cost the site dearly.

The best thing is to make the new site have the same directory structure as the old site. Google will see that you've made major changes to the code, so they will take time to go through and look at the code for snippets and content (you may disappear from the rankings temporarily), but they shouldn't have to map any new URLs if you're simply replacing an old site. Additionally, links in places like blogs and other sites will not cause bounced traffic or 404 errors because the pages can't be found. Remember Google not only tracks you with their search engines, but they also do it with mobile devices, browsers like Chrome, plug-ins in browsers, and places like links in g-mail. So they will find out about a 404 relatively quickly.

If for some reason you've changed the structure of the site or the folders, directories, etc, or if now you're using something like mod_rewrite to process user requests, then you'll need to create a 301 redirect from the old pages to the new pages that specifically have to do with the old content. If old content is going away for some reason, do NOT try to redirect that traffic back to anything other than the homepage, in fact it's best to let the search engines know that the page is GONE. That way they can remove it from the rankings. If it looks like you're trying to link to unrelated content, it can damage the overall performance of your domain.

Google and other search engines expect a single page of content from your site, if you keep both sites live for any reason (especially on the same domain), the duplicate content can cost your old page rank a bit.

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