I am almost ready to publish a new website design for my website. It contains some of the same content, but a lot is worded differently. My plan is simply to replace the old files with new ones. Would it be good for SEO purposes to keep my old website up, and perhaps move it to a new directory? I could have a link in the footer to "old design".

I know search engines love content, and if I am putting out new content, shouldn't I still keep the old content?


If your main content is about the same, just make the switch. Don't give your users two versions of your website. Those are your main concern, Google will follow the users.

Moving your old site to a new directory makes even less sense: you have a PR per page, or actually per URL. If you change /some-page to /backup/some-page, you will lose that the PR and have the backup indexed again. Which you don't want, you want your new site to take over.

Short answer: Just make the switch. Just make sure all your URLs are preserved, and try to use as many 301-header as you can where needed.

  • My new sites is actually structure pretty much the same as the old site, so for example, I have a "obstacles.html" page on both sites. I think that would mean it's not even necessary to use 301s because the url isn't changing
    – etangins
    Jun 18 '14 at 15:33
  • What I was thinking is just to have the old site have an inconspicuous link in the footer that web crawlers would see (and maybe some users). Would having that additional content gained from having two different versions help my site SEO?
    – etangins
    Jun 18 '14 at 15:35
  • no! Because you will have duplicate content. Either keep the old one as is, or replace it completely. If the links are the same, you dont need to change anything.
    – Martijn
    Jun 19 '14 at 7:10
  • yeah the links are the same, but the display of the page is different. I also reworded the content (nothing drastic but differently worded content) so I was thinking the old website would still look like different, unique content.
    – etangins
    Jun 19 '14 at 15:13
  • if it's 60% the same, it will be marked duplicate. How many visitors are we actually talking about?
    – Martijn
    Jun 19 '14 at 15:16

If you are completely changing the structure, theme of your website, my advice is:

Do not make all the changes together.

Googlebot and users do not like websites that are completely changed. For example you might have a blog and 100 direct readers. Your readers know the structure of your website, they know that on the right top there are the popular posts, at the home page there are some interesting widgets etc, they can easily navigate through your website.

If you completely change the website, some of them will leave. Also Googlebot and specially if you are using Adsense, will start to re-validate your website, and you possibly see that your rankings and earnings are going down, and you will need weeks or months to reach your old earnings.

To sum up:

Do not have 2 versions of the website (duplicated links) for any reason (as Martijn also said) this will destroy your SEO, and make the changes one at a time. Stay with the change for some days and continue with the next change, so Googlebot and your readers are get used to these changes.

  • with regard to the duplicate links, my links are relative to the root directory, so I would just move the old website's root directory (instead of linking to www.ninjawarrior.info/salmon_ladder.html it would be www.ninjawarrior.info/old/salmon_ladder.html and the new one would be www.ninjawarrior.info/salmon_ladder.html
    – etangins
    Jun 19 '14 at 15:14
  • Yeah, you do not need the old for no reason. It will create duplicate links. Somehow Googlebot will find then and start crawling them. You will need to block robots, or noindex them. But there is totally no reason for that. Just make small changes and after some time you will have replaced the whole website
    – krokola
    Jun 19 '14 at 15:33
  • The only problem is, to change one page at a time would look super wierd becaus the layout is changing, so I feel like it makes more sense to change it all at once. The reason why I was thinking of keeping the old site up was so that google would find it and would think it's additional content, thus improving my SEO.
    – etangins
    Jun 19 '14 at 19:20
  • More content yes is good, but would don't talk about more content, you talk about duplicate content :) That's not good. Your will gain nothing. Now for the replacement, it depends on your site. If you have 50 hits from Google per day, then replace your website at once and you will be ok, but if you get thousands, it would be better to make the replacements on at a time. I hope I helped :)
    – krokola
    Jun 19 '14 at 19:39
  • But my content isn't duplicate content on the new website, it is reworded content. The content on the new site pertains to the same topic and is structured exactly the same, but it is entirely different text. Granted, a lot of the same keywords to appear, but that is simply because that is what my site is about.
    – etangins
    Jun 19 '14 at 19:40

I agree with Martijn.

You say and inconspicuous link for web crawlers. That sounds like a good idea but let's say that when a user searches Google your old content is more relevant than the new for whatever reason. Then the user will be clicking on a link that takes them to the old design with old information. If this is acceptable to you then I say give it a shot.

Martijn also mentioned that Google follows the users. This is why Google built Chrome a browser for all types of devices and why they have Android phones. They literally follow users so if users never browse to the old site then Google might not give too much weight to those pages. Again, give it a shot and then report your findings if they are good.

  • It seemed like you are more for giving it a shot while Matijn was leaning toward no. I feel that my new content is far more preferable for users, but the old content is still acceptable. Doesn't Google typically show the homepage of the site though when it comes to search results, unless the specific page is HIGHLY relevant to the search term far above other pages?
    – etangins
    Jun 19 '14 at 1:56
  • Correct. That is my experience. But on my web log reports I have found people finding pages with keywords that I didn't expect. Remember when someone talks about Google they are giving you educated guesses based on experience. Only Google knows the real formula. That's why I say give it a shot because depending on your content you could be lucky. I had a website once with lots of tools for college like calculators and periodic table and then changed the website completely just to find people arriving at the new website looking for the calculators which I never killed.
    – edsanz
    Jun 19 '14 at 13:50

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