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SEO: Effects of Changing Navigation and Search

Posted on 2011-02-12
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Last Modified: 2013-11-19
Hi All,

I want to change the navigation and search function on my website but I am a bit concerned that the SEs might downgrade my site because of the change. I have over 24 000 pages in my sitemap and changes to my navigation would effect them all, changes to my search however would affect over half of them.

I would be changing about 20-30% of the code to implement the change but I wouldn't be changing any of the content sections. Is it possible to make this change without incurring penalties from the major SEs?
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Question by:Mulith
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by:zippybungle2003
zippybungle2003 earned 250 total points
ID: 34878426
The oonly way it would hurt would be if they code was slower that the previous code so page loading would be slower.
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by:freshcontent
ID: 34891121
When you say "change the navigation function", do you mean the actual navigation/layout of your website?  If you change the way that your website is laid out, that could affect your Google ranking as they are the "path" to your pages. If you have subsections or sub-topic areas and the paths to those sub-areas change, even if you don't change the actual content on the end-result pages, having navigation paths change that lead to those content pages can affect your ranking (sometimes worse, sometimes better).

Can you be more specific about what you mean by "Change the navigation function"?

Thanks.

I agree with zippybungle2003 on the search aspect.
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by:Mulith
ID: 34891841
The site is still the same as before and I am not changing any URL structures or anything. I'm just replacing one navigation menu with another across the site and the search form on my search pages.


I have two for versions of my search pages. One in the form of a static URL and one in the form of a dynamic URL that is blocked by my robots.txt. By implementing my new search form I will be adding another 20-30 links to the page and will be replacing the old one. Like I said in the initial message, I would be changing about 20-30 percent of the source code.

Would it be better to implement the new navigation menu first and then wait a bit before changing my search form? Just want to stear clear of any penalties.
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freshcontent earned 250 total points
ID: 34892884
Mulith - agreed; changing URL structures would change your SEO for those content pages.

When you say "I'm replacing one navigation menu with another...", do you mean that it has the same static HTML, but it is styled differently?  If you are changing anything about the link(s) that Google will crawl (I'm assuming that these links are both indexable and followable), then it will change, probably slightly, Google's interpretation of the page.
If you are only changing the styling but the links stay the same name, href, etc., you should be fine.

To me, the search form change does not sound problematic from an SEO point of view, unless, as zippybungle2003 says, it slows down page load time.
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