A large candy site which I’ve been optimizing for the last 3 or 4 years has had top natural placement in the search results for the keywords “bulk candy” and “candy warehouse” for most of that time, at Google and elsewhere. This client now has great rankings for hundreds of individual candies.
The site is undergoing an extensive re-design to handle back end problems, which re-design is scheduled to go live today.
We have moved the site from Windows IIS hosting, where the pages all ended in .asp or .aspx, over to a Linux Apache mySQL PHP (LAMP) platform, where all the pages now end in .php. As well, we have moved their shopping cart from something that was originally cobbled together using an Access database, to a great shopping cart called x-Cart, including the SEO and CSS modules for that cart.
From an SEO point of view, this kind of site re-design is cause for extreme concern. The site has about 3500 pages indexed by Google,with about half of those in the regular results and half in the supplemental results. The site had had many https (secure) pages indexed by Google, too, and all of those need to be re-routed to the non-secure versions.
We’ve set up mod rewrites wherever we can so that the old .asp pages will be routed using 301 to the new pages.
The old site was also written in very complex nested tables. We’ve streamlined the code (although it looks almost identical to the old site) and put it into CSS only (no tables).
Duplicate pages from the old site and canonicalization problems (3 or 4 ways to get to the same content along different paths) have been addressed using mod rewrite.
So we’re crossing our fingers that the site does not fall into the sandbox because of extensive changes. Most of the static pages (there are about 200 of them) are identical, text-wise, to the old site, so Google may not even notice changes to the text.
You just never know ahead of time what might go wrong. What surprises will Murphy’s Law bring us?
It’s going to be interesting, and I’ll try to keep this blog current on the state of its keyword rankings.