Will Upgrading My Real Estate Website Hurt My SEO?
Upgrading your site can be a scary thing. You've worked hard to build up authority, earn traffic, and create a system that effectively generates leads. Therefore, it's understandable that one of the most common questions we get when people are considering an upgrade is, "Will it hurt my SEO?"
The short answer is "no." Completed properly, an upgrade shouldn't have any negative impacts on the authority you've built. It should only help. Here's what you need to know:
Steps of a proper REW website upgrade
A proper REW website upgrade is extremely simple:
- All content is automatically transfered by REW in its current state to the new website
- Go through the website and reformat the content to suit your new website design
- Take the new site live
If your website upgrade also includes a domain change, there are a few more steps you should include to help maintain your SEO authority:
- Transfer all content to the new site
- Create a domain-level redirect
- Take the new site live
- Add new domain to Search Console
- Submit "change of URL"
Of course, REW takes care of some internal steps behind the scenes to ensure a smooth transition. If you are upgrading your site with a different vendor, there may be additional steps required.
By following the steps above, the impact of your website upgrade will be fairly minimal. Google will be able to quickly recognize that you simply moved your content to a new design and you should maintain all your existing authority.
Changing content during an upgrade
However, there is one way people get into trouble during a website upgrade: when they also change their content. If you change your design, content, and URL all at once, is it really the same website anymore? That's a question that Google seems to have taken note of.
When a lot of content changes during an upgrade, Google will re-evaluate your site and determine where it should fit in the various SERPs. Your inbound links and domain history will be taken into consideration, so you won't entirely start from scratch, but you may see position changes you didn't expect. This may work out in your favor, but it also might not.
Therefore, we recommend all site upgrades that include content changes be done in two phases:
- Upgrade the site with its existing content—even if you don't love your content.
- Reformat the content to look great on the new site.
- Take the site live, and wait a few weeks.
- Begin to update the content gradually over time.
In other words, take care of the design upgrade first and then adjust the content afterward.
SEO benefits of a site upgrade
There are no negative impacts of a site upgrade that's executed properly, but there can definitely be benefits. A new site on the latest technology can provide a number of benefits, especially when compared to older websites.
As websites evolve, so do user expectations. The way people navigate and interact with a site isn't the same as it was several years ago, and newer designs take that into account. An upgrade to a website often improves user experience, which in turns creates more engaged users. Given that Google now considers user engagement when determining rankings, this is a good thing!
Many modern websites are more efficient, resulting in faster websites. Even highly complicated designs can take advantage of newer technology, like lazy loading and advanced caching, to create phenomenal experiences that are incredibly fast. Speed optimization is an ongoing priority for web design, which means newer sites are often faster than older counterparts.
Conversion rates can also increase with a new website for a couple direct and indirect reasons. Directly, a new site with a better design can make calls-to-action more attractive and prominent. And while less direct, the overall appearance of your site impacts user trust, which in turn impacts conversions; a newer, modern site is typically considered more trustworthy than one that's behind the times—especially as security protocols are consistently changing over time.
Google's mobile-first indexing means that sites are now being evaluated on their mobile version, not their desktop version, which makes a good mobile experience more important than ever.
The real estate industry started using responsive web design in a big way in 2014, but we've also seen massive improvements in the mobile versions of websites in the years that follow. Responsive design in 2018 is significantly slicker than it was in 2014. A mobile site today is simply better than a mobile site built in years past.
If you don't have a mobile site at all, then the need to upgrade for SEO is a no-brainer, considering Google is now migrating sites to its mobile-first index.
Temporary increase in traffic
And finally, though not guaranteed, we often see a major uptick in traffic for a week or two, followed by a decline closer to the original baseline—often with moderate improvements. This increase is caused by Google experimenting to confirm the placement of each of the pages in the SERPs. While the high-quality content from the former site acts as a bit of a safety net, the launch of a new site forces Google to take another hard look at the site.
Deciding when to upgrade your site
If you're wondering whether the time is right to upgrade your site, it probably is. We recommend upgrading your real estate website every 2 to 3 years to stay on top of the latest design and SEO trends, and ensure you're always making the best impression possible.
To find out what an upgrade can do for your site, call 1-877-753-9893 to talk to one of our expert product consultants.