Changing Blog Design... Is it Risky?

18 replies
Hi...

Need some insights from you guys...

I'm willing to redesing one of my niche blogs... Just got tired of the layout, pictures, etc... The thig is it is getting a "good enough" traffic flow, and everyday users post comments, and it is ranked high enough for my main keywords.

Changing design will affect rankings? Any steps to follow to make sure this won't happen?

Thanks in advance.

Cheers.
#blog #changing #design #risky
  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I'm guessing you would want to make sure all your content is as high up in the html code as possible. I think if you are changing to a completely different them there is no way to GUARANTEE your rankings won't be effected. Anytime you change anything on your page you take the risk of effecting the ranking of that page - it may do better, it may do worse, it may just stay the same.

    My question to you is, if it ain't busted, why fix it? If you are getting the traffic and people are reading and commenting on the blog, don't change the theme just because you are sick of it. You are probably looking at the blog every other day so it's no supriise you are getting tired of the same design - but is that really a reason to change it?

    Anyway, if you are going to change themes then maybe this time I would swap over to a theme like thesis so if you ever decide you want to change the look of your blog again in the future, you can just change the look of the thesis theme without having to reinstall a brand new theme.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913350].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Steven Wagenheim
      Forget rankings. If you change your design and a long time visitor comes to
      the blog and doesn't recognize it, they may think they're in the wrong place
      and leave.

      Having said that, I have changed the design of my main blog several times
      but that's simply because I don't care. Whatever happens, happens and it's
      no skin off my nose.

      I'm more interested in keeping the people who will take the time to see if
      old Steve just changed his design instead of thinking, "I must be in the
      wrong place."

      Those people are my loyal followers and the ones who will ultimately be
      staying around.

      So sometimes changing blog design is a good test to see who follows you
      no matter what.

      As for rankings, as it was said, nobody knows how changing design will
      affect them. So if you're concerned, the answer is simple...don't do it.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913430].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Bill Farnham
        One of the most important things you want to make sure you get absolutely correct is the link structure of your blog as it relates to the content.

        Mess this up and you'll lose your backlinks and your serp rankings.

        Make certain ALL current content will have the exact same internal and external link addresses just as it appears now when you change it. If you change anything as it appears in the address bar for that content you're toast. You need to keep those links exactly as they are.

        ~Bill
        Signature
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913501].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author sanssecret
          Lord, I hadn't ever thought that changing the design would affect anything other than the look of my blogs. I do it all the time. Mainly because Nick from Elegant Themes keeps bringing out great themes and I need excuses to use them lol.

          I don't think it changes the permalinks though so I really don't see how it would effect rankings. However, my geekie skills aren't good enough to comment so I'll just continue as I am and hope I'm right.
          Signature
          San

          The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. ~Muhammad Ali
          Pay me to play. :) Order a Custom Cover today.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913615].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author jlgbuss
          Originally Posted by Bill Farnham View Post

          One of the most important things you want to make sure you get absolutely correct is the link structure of your blog as it relates to the content.

          Mess this up and you'll lose your backlinks and your serp rankings.

          Make certain ALL current content will have the exact same internal and external link addresses just as it appears now when you change it. If you change anything as it appears in the address bar for that content you're toast. You need to keep those links exactly as they are.

          ~Bill

          Great point... I guess that will quite a big hell to do.

          A big thank you to everyone taking the time to advice me on this.
          Signature
          Want your English microsite, product and business
          turned into a Spanish language pro market champion?


          Less competition, millions of unsaturated buyers!
          I don't translate words. I translate Ideas, concepts,
          moods. I spice, shake and dazzle fizzle. PM me!
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913755].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
        Bill's right. Make sure the link structure remains the same.

        And, as others have mentioned, I think it's helpful that the content remains similarly structured on the page.

        Originally Posted by jlgbuss View Post

        Changing design will affect rankings? Any steps to follow to make sure this won't happen?
        You may experience ups and downs in the rankings as Google adjusts to the new coding caused by the new design. But, as long as you aren't changing the actual content, these shifts should be temporary.

        I did a major facelift on two of my sites last year. Doesn't seem to have affected the rankings for either one of them.

        Originally Posted by Steven Wagenheim View Post

        Forget rankings. If you change your design and a long time visitor comes to
        the blog and doesn't recognize it, they may think they're in the wrong place
        and leave.
        They may be taken aback, but I think most people recognize that websites occasionally change. Besides, if they get that confused by a design change, they'll probably never be able to figure out a PayPal payment screen or they'll try sticking their credit card in their CD slot or whatever, so you probably don't need to be overly concerned about those people anyway.

        However, if the new design causes usability issues, people may not return. I've left sites for that reason. New designs made them more difficult to use or read, and so on. A few years ago, there was one site where I spent a good deal of money on a regular basis. But, then they did a redesign and the new design made the site difficult to read. It was a real eyesore. That lead to me spending less time on the site, which meant I spent a whole lot less money.

        Which is a good thing, because it's probably saved me a ton.
        Signature

        Dan's content is irregularly read by handfuls of people. Join the elite few by reading his blog: dcrBlogs.com, following him on Twitter: dcrTweets.com or reading his fiction: dcrWrites.com but NOT by Clicking Here!

        Dan also writes content for hire, but you can't afford him anyway.
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913655].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author imfornow
          are you changing to a wordpress theme? Wouldn't he need to use www. and non www, and also insert a / at the end if not there already?

          What are the details he needs to be sure to get right?
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913711].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author iobeek
    I would keep the overall look the same. Maybe just update it a little. Gradients, etc....how the content is presented...well I would not touch that.
    Signature
    Are you ready for some usability scrutiny? Click Here

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913627].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author DireStraits
    It could potentially have an effect yeah, but probably not a huge one. Depends on how much your site and interlinking structure is rooted in a particular theme layout, I guess.

    To be honest, if you're that concerned, can't you simply keep your actual theme/layout "code" the same, and just make changes in your CSS / stylesheet?

    This is, after all, what it's all supposed to be about: the separation of content from layout/design, or "style from substance", or whatever ... though I understand that it's easier to just swap themes than try to make extensive customisations that way.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913639].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author jlgbuss
      Originally Posted by DireStraits View Post

      To be honest, if you're that concernd, can't you simply keep your actual theme/layout "code" the same, and just make changes in your CSS / stylesheet?
      I don't know how to code CSS... Know of anyone that could do a job like this (changing graphics, theme, etc) WITHOUT messing link structure, etc?

      Thanks again to everyone.
      Signature
      Want your English microsite, product and business
      turned into a Spanish language pro market champion?


      Less competition, millions of unsaturated buyers!
      I don't translate words. I translate Ideas, concepts,
      moods. I spice, shake and dazzle fizzle. PM me!
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913775].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    I ran an authority site for 6 years and it ranked (for most search terms) 1st, 2nd and 3rd within Google.

    I totally blew away the site and redesigned it and relaunched and my rankings werent affected.

    This is because I was careful to preserve certain aspects of my site including page names, site structure, and all SEO related meta tags etc.

    If you dont know what you're doing, DONT do it just to make the site "look nice" Hire a professional who knows what theyre doing. Otherwise, leave it alone.
    Signature

    BS free SEO services, training and advice - SEO Point

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913778].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author mdvaldosta
    Changing just the visual design isn't going to make much of a difference on your rankings, assuming you maintain the same page titles and use of heading tags. Sure, it might fluctuate a bit in either direction but things aren't move much one way or the other. As for users, honestly - it's more about usability with them. As long as the change is for the better (site looks better, easier to use, etc) then changing it is for the better. Sure, there's that 10% that really dislikes change - but those are regular everyday visitors only (not search traffic) and very few would leave because of a layout change. Yea, if you've got a user base like Digg those 10% will make alot of noise if it's bad - but let's face it, who does?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913804].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author cassie_camay
    it wont have any effects on the ranking if your site is still accessible and user friendly like when old users visit your site after several months or years. They still find it smooth to navigate and easy to access.
    Signature

    great cosmetic surgeon seo awaits for you.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913811].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author jlgbuss
    An now... the BIG question... For a health related blog (sorry, not revealing my exact niche). What theme would you use (if you like any pre-made one)? Or which designer would you hire?

    See, the reason I'm thinking about changing my design now for this two year old blog is that I plan to be posting much more than usual in the next few months and planning to promote and baclink in a bit more agressive manner... PLan to be getting more NEW visitors (hopefuly).
    Signature
    Want your English microsite, product and business
    turned into a Spanish language pro market champion?


    Less competition, millions of unsaturated buyers!
    I don't translate words. I translate Ideas, concepts,
    moods. I spice, shake and dazzle fizzle. PM me!
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913818].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
      Originally Posted by jlgbuss View Post

      An now... the BIG question... For a health related blog (sorry, not revealing my exact niche). What theme would you use (if you like any pre-made one)? Or which designer would you hire?

      See, the reason I'm thinking about changing my design now for this two year old blog is that I plan to be posting much more than usual in the next few months and planning to promote and baclink in a bit more agressive manner... PLan to be getting more NEW visitors (hopefuly).
      I think functionality is way more important than "the look" of your blog!

      Why do you think posting more would require a different design?
      Signature

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913927].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author jlgbuss
        Originally Posted by Istvan Horvath View Post

        I think functionality is way more important than "the look" of your blog!

        Why do you think posting more would require a different design?
        Sorry I didn't explain myself correctly... I'm saying that, since I'll be working more than usual on this particular blog, I wouldn't mind spending a few more hours or some more money... I know that If I don't do it now I won't do it for at least six months (until I go back and check everything is ok with the site).

        BTW Istvan, thanks for taking the time to answer. I've taken a few good notes from your posts in other threads too. :rolleyes:
        Signature
        Want your English microsite, product and business
        turned into a Spanish language pro market champion?


        Less competition, millions of unsaturated buyers!
        I don't translate words. I translate Ideas, concepts,
        moods. I spice, shake and dazzle fizzle. PM me!
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2914020].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Istvan Horvath
    In itself just changing a theme and nothing else - should not affect anything on your site. Permalinks are not theme-dependent, FYI.

    Internal linking... may or may not change; it would depend on whether you change your menu structure or not.

    Yes, the content would be presented in the same way... however, there is (or could be) an issue - if your new theme is not coded smartly.
    E.g. recently somebody was asking why in their Google listing after the title of the page as "description" they had the calendar. Without seeing the site I guessed correctly: he had a 3 column theme with a left sidebar and in the sidebar the first item was the calendar...

    Be aware: if your new theme has a leftsidebar AND the theme author never heard about the "content first" principle... the very first thing after the opening <body> tag in your code will be the left sidebar. I don't know if you rely on any plugin to create meta tags for your your posts/Pages (e.g. description, keywords) but if not, then the SEs will take the first lines of "content" to use it as description... and in the case of the badly coded 3-column theme that would be the sidebar

    Summary. It is not risky to change the layout because, as DireStraits pointed out, the whole idea of a good CMS is to separate the engine (=WP core files), the content (=stored in your database) and the presentation (=design, layout). Just pay attention to details

    I have also changed themes and didn't notice any significant change in SERP positions.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913903].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author cassie_camay
    you can choose design that are related to your site. It's just a matter of multimedia combinations. But in my case if my site needs redesigning I would stick to the standards like
    considering loading pages should be prioritize since if your site is heavy people and other visitors would not try to visit the site again.
    Signature

    great cosmetic surgeon seo awaits for you.

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[2913929].message }}

Trending Topics