What are some best practices for moving to a new CMS?

What are some best practices for moving to a new CMS? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

CUTTS: Here’s a fun question from Mani in Delhi. Mani asks, “We are changing a fairly large HTML site to CMS, that’s Content Management System. What are the essentials to keep in mind so that we do not lose our search rankings?” Very good question. I have seen a lot of people, a lot of websites go through like a two year redesign only to launch with a completely new software underlined package, you know, platforms, CMS underneath it and completely new HTML layout and suddenly their rankings aren’t what they hoped they would and they’re stuck. They’re like, “Okay, was it because we changed the layout, or was it because we changed the CMS, that we changed the URL structure?” So, the one big piece of advice that I would give is, try not to launch all of this at once. For example, if your CMS means, that your layout has to change, you can mock that up, you know, you can try to make it so you change your HTML, so that it looks like, it would like, from your Content Management System and then make sure that your rankings don’t change. They shouldn’t change very much at all, but you know, if you change a whole bunch of stuff on your page, that can affect, how Google scores at that page. So, instead of, you know, changing the CMS and changing the layouts, see if you can change only one at a time. Try not to change the URL structure. Another thing is, you know, if you’re really worried, you can change to the only one directory that is powered by the CMS at first. So, it’s almost like you’re dipping your foot in the water. But you know, it’s just like any other scientific thing, if you’re going to change four things at once and then your rankings change, you don’t know which of those four things it was. So if, if all possible, number one, try to, you know, change it so that everything from your CMS generates identical HTML. And then number two, if you are going to go through a big redesign, try to put some mock-ups up relatively early, you know. You can do, so maybe a testing, and see how it goes with users, and see how it goes in terms of search engine rankings. But the main thing is don’t just, you know, work for two years, without even trying it out in the search engines to see how it might be scored differently. That said, normally, if you’re changing things around, it isn’t a huge difference, it doesn’t make a huge impact. It is possible. So do some trials if you can but it is–it should be very doable to try to migrate between different Content Management Systems without losing your rankings.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


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