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Preserving Search Engine Position in a new Website

We are developing a new version of an existing website using a temporary domain pointing to brand new hosting.

Once the client is happy, we will launch the new website and this will replace the current website.

This website has been in existence for a quite some time so ideally I would like to be able to help preserve the search engine position.

Usually I've used 301 redirects in .htaccess file to achieve this by redirecting for example from the root directory to a separate folder but this is not possible in this instance as the hosting is completely different.

I have two questions:
  • Is this possible to do with a WordPress website?
  • If this isn't possible, will this adversely affect the search engine position of the new website as compared to the old website

If anyone could shed any light or give any suggestions, it would be much appreciated.

3 Solutions
Branislav BorojevicFounderCommented:
Search engines usually love WordPress and with the right plugins for SEO it might even be better. But of course every chance in the structure of a site might trigger some lost rankings, maybe only for a short time.

Additionally, there are several great SEO tools that you can use with WordPress that can help you get on the right track fast.

Why don't you build a test version of the site and make sure that important rankings are included in the site as tags, in titles etc.

You can make 301 redirects with WordPress through the .htaccess, and it should not be a problem to achieve same redirects like you have them now.

To find out which of your pages are indexed in search engines, you can query the search engine. Each search engine uses a different method for this:

Google: type “site:example.com” to get a listing of pages indexed. You can click on “show omitted results” on the last page to get them all.
Yahoo: the same, except you will be redirected to Yahoo’s Site Explorer.
MSN: the same, except you will be redirected to Bing.

Each search engine will return a list of indexed pages, along with a number of how many pages are indexed.

In your case, your website is simply moving to a new server, and you are keeping your domain name, so all you will need to do is keep both sites up for a few weeks to ensure the search engines are aware of the switch.

I recommend leaving the 301 redirects up indefinitely, as some pages take longer to redirect than others.

Here are some useful .htaccess tricks for WordPress to get you on your way.

Ray PaseurCommented:
Usually I've used 301 redirects in .htaccess file to achieve this by redirecting for example from the root directory to a separate folder but this is not possible in this instance as the hosting is completely different.
Erm, what do you think is preventing you from using 301 redirects?  Have you got a test case that proves the 301 redirect fails?
Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
Also, any significant change in a site and URL structure will cause your SERPS to change almost immediately no matter what games you play with redirects.  The results are based on a combination of on-page SEO and off-page SEO including HTML structures, language analysis, server speeds, mobile-friendliness, etc).

A change to a new web site will change almost everything that Google looks at.  The 301 redirects simply preserves the inbound links which mitigates the immediate damage (so you absolutely should do it) but the rest of the changes are probably significant enough that there is no way to guarantee the level of the effect it will have on Google.
canuWebmasterAuthor Commented:
Thanks Jason & Branislav, great comments, they helped a lot.

Hi Ray,

You're absolutely right, there shouldn't be any difference at all, a 301 redirect is the same wherever, I was having connection issues so I wasn't actually able to download the .htaccess file at the time.

Thank you all for your help!
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