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Site Redesigns and the Google Page Rank Implications

Published: April 30 2005

Regular visitors to Walshaw.com will have noticed that the site recently underwent a complete overhaul in design and structure. The directory is now database driven, and the site has been rewritten in PHP.

One of the main concerns I had in rewriting and restructuring the site was the impact it would have on my Google page ranks. I say page ranks in plural because Google determines a rank for each individual page of a web site, rather than a rank for the site as a whole. While the homepage URL would remain unchanged, most categories were to be given their own folder as opposed to having everything dumped in the main directory. On top of that, every page would have a new extension: .php.

Will a redesign kill my hard earned page ranks? Will I have to start my search engine optimization over? The fears that I had are shared by many web designers who rewrite and restructure their web sites.

Once the new version was up my fears were realized. Every page of the site, apart from the homepage, were given a page rank of zero, and I suddenly had link partners refusing to exchange links with me because of it!

However it is now two months later, and guess what? Most of my old Google page ranks have been restored to their previous levels. The lesson learned? For those of you who are thinking of redesigning their site to the extent that many URLs will change, be aware that you may temporarily lose the Google page ranks you have worked so hard to achieve. However, over time your page ranks should be restored to their previous levels so long as your homepage URL is unchanged. This result derives from the fact that your ranked homepage is the primary source of visitors to your other pages, and its rank should drag the page ranks of the rest of the site up to their previous levels. For the case of Walshaw.com, I found this process to take approximately two months.


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