Ever heard the saying “Never change a winning team”? What about “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? The concept is quite similar, and it applies to many fields and endeavors. A few months back I found that this applies to SEO as well….
I had a mini website that was getting a lot of traffic from search engines. When I looked for analytics to analyze the numbers I found that the same page was attracting the bulk of the traffic because it was ranking in the third position of Google for a popular search term.
I thought people visiting other pages on that site would also be interested in that page, so I created a section at the bottom of each page with relevant links. The goal was to improve navigation and increase the page views per visitor ratio within the site, not increase my search ranking. Actually I didn’t use optimized anchor text or anything to artificially increase my ranking.
Yet a few weeks later that page went from third place to third page in search results for the same search term…. And it remained there ever since.
Could it have been a coincidence? Sure. But there is a possibility that the changes I implemented to the site’s internal linking structure might raise some red flags with Google, despite being valid changes.
I’ve also heard many stories of website owners who redesigned their websites, moving links and sections around, and then found that their rankings had disappeared overnight.
Obviously this is not a rule carved in stone. Sometimes similar changes can have a positive effect on search rankings and traffic. What I want to say is that you should make structural changes to your websites with caution, especially if there is a significant risk involved (for example, if you already get a lot of organic traffic).