Having dealt with many SEO related sites, I often get asked what will be the impact if a webmaster makes changes to his site content, or structure. Usually the answer is what they don’t want to hear, making changes in the site’s structure, or changing around the content of the site too often, does impact the site’s ranking. To put it simply, every change you make forces Google to reassess your sites ranking, Google stores a copy of your website on it’s server, so whenever there is a change in the structure, content or any other aspect of the site, Google detects the change. Once the change is detected Google will recalculate your ranking based on the new pages it has indexed. Now depending on the changes you make your ranking might go up, or it might go down, but the probability that it is completely unaffected is pretty low.
For example, if you were to change the structure of your website so that after the change there was very little content left, or you have added more content thereby reducing the keyword density of your content, this results will more often than not, adversely effect your ranking. The same goes for your web design, if you frequently make changes to your web design, and shift around the structure of your links on a regular basis, you might end up harming your web rankings. But don’t think see change as all negative, if you have made changes to the text for the better, and have improved the structure of your web page, there will definitely be improvement in your site ranking.
Another thing to remember is that whenever you make a change to your website, make sure you keep the regularity of Google indexing in mind. If your site is indexed say once a month, make sure you have made all your changes before the indexing, this way any changes will be reflected in a go, if you keep making changes spasmodically, it will end up harming your ranking more than anything else. In addition make sure you keep as much of the original content and site structure in tact. As the saying goes, don’t fix something that isn’t broken. If you notice even popular news sites, have a set pattern of displaying data, only their content changes on a daily basis; pretty much everything else is the same; this is because they want to makes sure that the there are as little variables involved as possible.
So then how do you make changes without adversely affecting your website ranking? Well the first thing you might want to change is the content, make sure the new content you add is not impacting your keyword density, if possible try and add new content on a separate page, this way your original content is in tact. Many websites have done something similar and have added a news or what’s new? feature to their site instead of making frequent changes to the website. This is a smart and search engine friendly way of adding new content to the site. However there is another consideration to make, don’t put a link for every new page on the home page, this might decrease the ranking of the home page, instead just make a separate what’s new section and add new pages or events to that.
The second thing to remember when making changes to the website is to try and keep as much of the original structure in tact, if you have to make changes, make them as discreetly as possible. This ensures that the distribution of Page Rank is not effected throughout the website, even if you have to make changes you are better of revamping the whole site and starting from scratch, instead of making a change a week. If you notice this is why most major sites just shut down for a day or two and prefer a revamp.
No matter what the change to your website, the change does impact your ranking, but this is not all a bad thing, if you do it right and have made changes to improve the ranking, then you will benefit from these changes, however if the changes have not been made with SEO in mind, then you might end up loosing some valuable ranking.