Ever heard the saying “never change a winning team”? What about “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? The concept is pretty much the same, and it applies to many fields and endeavors. A couple of months ago I found it also applies to SEO….
I had a mini website that was receiving a lot of traffic from search engines. When I dug into analytics to analyze the numbers I found that one single page was attracting the bulk of the traffic, as it was ranking in the third position of Google for a popular search term.
I figured that people visiting other pages of that site would be interested in that page too, so I created a section below each page with related links. The goal was to improve the navigation and increase the page views per visitor ratio within the site, and not to increase my search rankings. In fact I didn’t use optimized anchor texts or anything to artificially inflate my rankings.
Yet a couple of weeks later that page moved from the third position to the third page in the search results for the same search term…. and it stayed there ever since.
Could it have been a coincidence? Sure. But there is a chance that the changes I applied to the internal linking structure of the site triggered some red flag with Google, despite being legitimate changes.
I also heard many stories from website owners who re-designed their websites, moving links and sections around, and then found that their rankings had vanished overnight.
Obviously this is not a rule carved in stone. Many times similar tweaks could have a positive effect on search rankings and traffic. The point I wanted to make is that you should perform structural changes on your websites with care, especially if there is a big risk involved (e.g., if you already get a lot of organic traffic).
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